The 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot set an ugly pop culture template.
Suddenly, to merely dislike a female-centric film made one a sexist if not an outright bully. That media narrative took hold during the rollout for the anticipated film, the biggest gender swap project to date.
Since then, similar themes have greeted the release of “Birds of Prey,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Captain Marvel.”
Sony, the studio behind “Ghostbusters,” endorsed that narrative. A Sony top executive had a simple, profane message to the film’s early naysayers:
Everybody says I’m making the female Ghostbusters, but I say, ‘No, we’re making the funny Ghostbusters.’ Yes, it happens to be four women. It’s original. You get pissing and moaning on the Internet — sexist comments – but, you know, [bleep]’em.
The stars embraced that victimhood status, too, a curious pose for a multi-million dollar project with a major studio behind it. The film even inserted a scene where the ghostbusters mock online trolls.
And, of course, the cast gathered on “Ellen” alongside a certain female presidential candidate.
The film famously underperformed, stalling the franchise and costing Sony a reported $70 million. “Ghostbusters” director Paul Feig complained shortly after the film flopped that the project became political, ignoring all of the above.
Now, he’s taking a different tone. It’s those racist, sexist Trump voters who sank his movie.
Feig shared that view on SiriusXM radio May 22, complaining the 2016 presidential campaign mortally wounded his film.
“I think some really brilliant author…needs to write a book about 2016 and how intertwined we were with Hillary [Clinton] and the anti-Hillary movement,” Feig said.
Perhaps Feig should have complained when the film’s marketing team arranged for the stars to team with Clinton on “Ellen?”
“Everyone was at a boiling point. I don’t know if it was having an African-American president for eight years that they were teed up, they were just ready to explode….”
“It’s crazy how people got nuts about women trying to be empowered or be in positions they weren’t normally in, and it was an ugly, ugly year.”
Yes, remember what happened when Jennifer Lawrence fronted the “Hunger Games” trilogy and it made roughly a gazillion dollars? Or how the wokest superhero movie to date, “Captain Marvel,” became one of the MCU’s bigger hits?
What about the time the racist, sexist GOP prayed Sarah Palin would become the nation’s first female Vice President? Or how the same group rallied behind feisty White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany?
Feig is a talented director on a career decline thanks to the commercial dud “Last Christmas” and 2018’s terrible “A Simple Favor.” Playing the racist and sexist card should be beneath him.
It’s also easier than admitting, finally, that his “Ghostbusters” reboot cost too much and lacked the timeless joy of the original.
Then again, perhaps Feig is following in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps. The former First Lady has spent the last three-plus years coming up with new, creative reasons why she lost to Donald Trump in 2016.