Normally when fanboys get their knickers in a twist its nothing but a bellow of pointless hot air spewed forth on a subject that isn't worth getting riled up about in the first place. This is a shame, as when the fans do voice a worthwhile opinion it gets shot down as more typical aficionado drivel. But this week news of the upcoming part three in the Ghostbusters franchise saw fans take to forums to have their say on some very emotive topics.
Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray, teasing fans at the Spike Awards in 2010...we can but dream...
For those that missed it, writer/director Paul Feig announced last week that Ghostbusters III would feature an all female line-up. Leading the charge would be funny-fem of the moment and star of the comedy hit Bridesmaids (2011) Melissa MCarthy. Despite the tragic passing of founder member Harold "Egon" Ramis earlier this year, this was still unexpected news. And boy were fans unhappy. We're talking Ben-Affleck-Batman levels of displeasure. Media outlets, seeing a feminist shaped pot that was crying out to be stirred, reached for their nearest ladle. Soon news stories started to appear across the web slamming Ghostbuster fans for being sexist and backward thinking.
As tends to be the case in twenty-first century journalism, the writers missed the mark here by a country mile; fans weren't humpy because McCarthy is a woman, they were hacked off because she's not Bill Murray. One of the many things that made Ghostbusters (1984) such a masterpiece was the chemistry between the titular team of spook banishers. The quartet sold the script, penned by two of them, beautifully and after the fun of the special-effects and the toe-tapping soundtrack wore off, it was Murray, Akyroyd, Ramis and Hudson that made the film so revisitable. It just so happens that this central foursome were born male.
Fans aren't upset that its going to be women in part three, they're upset that they aren't going to spend some more time with Pete, Ray, Egon and Winston. We love those guys and it hurts having hopes of seeing them again dashed. Of course, this mattered not to the media who set their sights on kicking up another anti-women brouhaha.
Tackling the issue from a strictly sexual orientation perspective, the angry feminists are still on shaky ground. There's been much progress made in the last few decades on equal rights, and quite right to; there is simply no justification for not treating men and women as equals anymore. That is for one unarguable exception which will probably remain forever more; the emergency services. If I'm trapped in a burning building, or for the sake of our argument menaced by an angry spook, I don't give a toss whose doing the rescuing, just as long as I'm saved in one piece. The fact is, on the whole, men are stronger, fitter, and more suited to these sort of rescue jobs. That's plain old genetics and there's no getting away from that. If a team of "ghostbusters" are going to be running around with weighty proton-packs on their backs saving lives, its likely that the majority of them are going to be men.
But the uninspiring announcements from Paul Feig didn't stop there. A couple of days after the bombshell that the Ghostbusters would be going girl-power, a further hand grenade was tossed into the ring; the third film would have absolutely nothing to do with the first two movies. Fans cringed and prepared themselves for the worst. And then it came, the word that now fills franchise fans with dread, "reboot".
The reboot concept use to be something to get excited about, new life breathed info a long dormant franchise, giving the fans something to get excited about after years of nothingness. But after the likes of Transformers (2007), A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Alex Cross (2012), Evil Dead (2013), Robocop (2014), Godzilla (2014), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) fans have grown wise. What a reboot really means is an easy route to ensuring your film turns over a decent buck at the box office. Stick a familiar franchise name on your project and it pulls in a ready-built audience of millions of fans, all willing to part with their cash no matter how turgid the actual movie is.
And that's exactly what appears to be happening with Ghostbusters III. None of the original cast are likely to be in it, or the original characters, and its going to have no connection with the original films at all, which begs the obvious question, why even bother connecting it with Ghostbusters? The link is being maintained simply because there's more money to be made that way. Its the cheapening of a highly regarded franchise for the sake of making money; some people call that whoring.
The fans do have to take some of the responsibility here though. If we didn't all stagger sheep like into cinemas to hand over our cash for endless film "reimaginings", no matter how poor the quality, studios wouldn't keep serving up rubbish reboots. We will all keep going though, just as long as there's a franchise out there that Michael Bay hasn't gotten his mitts on yet.
A few fans have said that maybe its time for a new start with Ghostbusters, time to shake things up. But when you consider that we've only had two film outings to date, and the last one was released a quarter of a century ago, there isn't a whole lot there to shake up. Ghostbusters isn't the James Bond franchise, where every few years its time to get a new face in; they didn't replace Connery after From Russia With Love (1963). There's still some Pete Venkman and Dana Barrett story that needs telling. Granted, they aren't quite the young turks they once were, but a "passing of the torch" tale would have been a good enough springboard to a decent part three. Instead it looks like we'll end up with McCarthy warding off spirits with a book of magic spells in between fart gags, unwelcome comments on her haunted under-carriage, and a predictable search for three model-pretty compatriots. As a great man once said, that's some shit that will turn you white.