The 2016 Ghostbusters is one of the most divisive movies of recent years. From the moment it was announced, it was a magnet for the worst behavior on the internet, and it was the target of ratings-tanking and downvote campaigns—the kind of toxic fan behavior we’re used to seeing around comic book movies but exploded all over Ghostbusters because it “ruined childhoods” or something. (Funnily enough, kids LOVED the 2016 movie.) And then the movie didn’t do well, playing right into the “nobody actually wants lady-led movies anyway” narrative popularized by a particularly gross corner of the internet (never mind that one year later, Wonder Woman came along and proved them wrong. They’re now crowing that Aquaman’s success proves Wonder Woman isn’t THAT popular, which ???, and they’re foaming at the mouth to “take down” Captain Marvel. This is a very disheartening group of people to observe). They wanted Ghostbusters 2016 to bomb, and then it did, and we all lose when fedora bros get what they want.
Which is why I can’t get excited for Jason Reitman’s new Ghostbusters. Yesterday, a teaser was released for Ghostbusters III, coming 2020. It’s a continuation of the original franchise, though there are no details on how the remaining ’Busters will be involved (sadly, Harold Ramis passed away in 2014, so there will be no Spengler). There are no details on anything, really, except that Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, is picking up the reins, he is maybe casting teenagers, and the 2016 movie won’t have anything to do with the new one.
You know what this means, right? Sony will pretend the 2016 reboot never happened. It’s wiped off the map. At one point there was talk of making an animated show with the NuBusters, because kids did like the movie so much, but that has evaporated and now with this new movie, it’s pretty clear Sony intends to move on like nothing happened. I don’t care that Jason Reitman is directing a new Ghostbusters movie. I hope it’s good. He seems a slightly odd choice (broad studio comedies aren’t really his thing), but it’s his family legacy and he’s a great filmmaker, so no reason to think he won’t make a good movie here.
I do care that the fedora bros will get what they wanted all along, which is a world in which women don’t get to play in the ’Busters’ sand box (unless she’s a love interest or secretary). The whole Ghostbusters '16 experience was discouraging and now it feels like we’re catering to the very people who made it so toxic and gross. I generally hate the term “culture war”, because asking that people be treated like, you know, PEOPLE shouldn’t be a contentious thing. Suggesting that everyone is entitled to the same basic dignity, respect, and compassion shouldn’t be the start of an argument. We’re not at war with each other, we’re just fighting to make things better for everyone, because we’ve inherited a f-cked up world and if we don’t work to make it better, it won’t get better. But Ghostbusters '16 really did feel like a culture war, and today I think the side of progress lost. It’s not the biggest or most important thing, but it is a sad chapter in pop culture.