In 2016, ‘Ghostbusters’ fighting more than just ghosts

The reboot of the 1984 original, opening next month, has been met with controversy since it was announced

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Turns out paranormal activity is the least of the Ghostbusters’ concerns.

The rebooted all-female “Ghostbusters” opens in theaters next month and has already waged battle with a force much more powerful than Slimer or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man: Online haters.

The official trailer for the film debuted in March and has earned the distinction of becoming the most “disliked” movie trailer in YouTube history, receiving more than 850,000 “thumbs down” votes from users, a number will likely top 1 million before the movie’s July 15 opening. (A bright spot: the trailer still has a looong way to go before it tops the 6.3 million downvotes of Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” YouTube’s all-time most disliked video. Oh, baby, no!)

Why all the hate? In a move that Zuul never saw coming, the new “Ghostbusters” tapped into a reservoir of hot button topics — sex, class, race — that is currently boiling over in America, and is playing a major role in our upcoming presidential election.

Complaints about “Ghostbusters” and how changing it is ruining the past run parallel with cries that America is changing and being taken away from those to whom it once belonged. It’s the reason Donald Trump exists as a candidate for president; “Ghostbusters” fans’ platforms can be summed up neatly on red hats with block lettering that scream, “Make Ghostbusters Great Again.”

So now a remake of a 1980s comedy about a team of wisecracking scientists — well, mostly scientists, which we’ll get to — has become a symbol of something much bigger than proton packs and Ecto Coolers. It has become a victim of outrage culture, the economy of anger that fuels everything from debates about the Cincinnati gorilla incident to backlash against the Chewbacca Lady.

The “Ghostbusters” outrage isn’t necessarily about “Ghostbusters.” It’s about the changing of the world and those who don’t want to see it change.

Even before the trailer was released, “Ghostbusters” had attracted a flood of negative attention from the online community, mostly due to the cast’s gender flip of the 1984 original.

Mount Clemens-born director Paul Feig was accused of ruining the childhoods of the film’s fans, as if “Ghostbusters” is some sort of boys club and he was setting fire to the original scripture by casting women as the busters of ghosts.

Once the trailer debuted, another wave of controversy erupted accusing the film of racism, because Leslie Jones’ character is a toll booth worker while the three white stars play scientists. Jones’ reply on Twitter was swift and dismissive: “ITS NOT A MAN, WOMAN, RACE, CLASS THANG!! IT’S A GHOSTBUSTER THANG!!”

But wait. How did we get to the point where “Ghostbusters” was being taken this seriously, like the makers of the new film have reworded the Declaration of Independence?

For starters, for years fans have clamored for a new “Ghostbusters” movie, but when the all-female reboot was announced, it was not what the original film’s fanbase — let’s call them largely white and largely male — wanted to hear.

Partially it’s a backlash to remake and reboot culture, which is understandable. But remakes and reboots don’t do anything to change the original films. (Only George Lucas does that, when he literally goes back and changes his original films.)

Similar outcries were not prompted by 1989’s “Ghostbusters II,” a sequel so hapless that the characters’ uniforms and equipment were outfitted with “Ghostbusters II” logos (how did they know they were in a sequel?) or the cartoon series “The Real Ghostbusters,” which ran from 1986-1991 and was mostly a vehicle to sell toys.

But the internet wasn’t around back then, fanboys didn’t have the same megaphone they do now, and the culture of fan entitlement and societal outrage hadn’t reached the insufferable levels it has today.

Ghosts we can handle, but the rage machine is what really needs busting. Who ya gonna call?

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