As of the publishing of this article, 854,312 people have “disliked” the first trailer for the new Ghostbusters reboot. In comparison the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot trailer only received 20,223 dislikes, and that was a movie shot in grey tones solely for the enjoyment of the executives at Fox who were only interested in keeping the rights out of Marvel’s hands. We’re not saying that everyone hates the new Ghostbusters solely because the entire cast has “Ghost Traps,” compared to “Proton Guns,” -if you get our meaning- but we cannot deny that there is an element of our Internet culture that seems aggressively obsessed with hating anything that doesn’t discharge positively charged ions while standing up. However, the real question is where does that leave this movie, and what should the rest of us believe? Is it good? Is it bad? is it just another chance for a studio to cash in on 80’s nostalgia? We can’t tell you, because we haven’t seen it yet, but we can at least try to break down some of the arguments in this incredibly disheartening debate.

Slimer? I Don’t Even Know Her…
Let’s start off by saying we are all Ghostbusters fans. We have all seen the movies 2.3 million times. We quote lines daily. We all owned at least one action figure, and one of us may own the box set of the old Saturday Morning Cartoon show. So let’s start with people’s legitimate complaints. The remake of any classic “near-holy” movie franchise is going to raise some ire. In fact, the first trailer even goes out of its way to make allusions to the old movies, as if they were afraid that the Internet forgot they existed. It very much is a big sort of, “Hey remember this thing you love? Here it is again. Give us money.”  The real problem with defending the reboot -which we promise we will eventually try to do- is that from everything we have seen this new movie is designed to be pretty look like a retelling of the original. There are four Ghostbusters, three of which are scientists, and one is a poor black working stiff. In the first trailer we see them in a library, we see Slimer, we see someone get slimed, and we see a trailer goes out of its way to hit every familiar beat we know from the originals. Granted this is only information gathered from the trailer, but it does leave us legitimately wondering if we are going to see anything new this time around. We mean aside from the cast and director, and that has people concerned as well.

You see, some fans are worried because the movie was handed over to Paul Feig and notably Melissa McCarthy. They have both made some good movies and some bad, but if all we are getting is a retold Ghostbusters with the comedy styling of Bridesmaids, there might be a legitimacy to some of the fears out there. Those two things are a questionable mix. After all, the original movie and its sequel were the products of a very specific time in the 80’s and very specific comedic minds. There has always been something off putting about remaking the franchise, mostly because Murray, Ramis, Hudson, and Akryod, were epitomized for a generation with those movies. Their faces are as much the Ghostbusters as Harrison Ford is Han Solo, or Indiana Jones, or the President that one time. Objectively, it is going to be hard to see a movie without them in it. However, -and Michael Bay aside- we are also not saying 80’s nostalgia remakes are all bad. There has been plenty of remakes, reboots, and sequels that sit proudly on our DVD shelves along with their originals, -Well, we don’t really own DVD’s anymore but you get our meaning- but it is a hard formula to replicate.

There is No Dana,… Only Internet Trolls
Let’s be honest, though, the reason this movie has become so divisive is not really because it is a remake of some “holy cow” of our childhoods. It is very definitely because it is a remake of a “free-floating full-body holy cow,” being remade with women. The entire cast is made up of “Gatekeepers,” instead of “Keymasters,” -if you get out meaning, again- and the anti-feminists of the world are hoping mad about it. “Women are just incapable of being funny. What a terrible idea,” “Did this just become a chick flick?” “Feminists ruin the world,” “Shouldn’t they be in the kitchen?” “All-female, I think, would be a bad idea. I don’t think the fans want to see that.” The last quote is from Ernie Hudson, by the way, but put all of this together and you start to see a clearer picture of what is really going on here. This movie is facing a 30-story unstoppable thought-form specter made of anti-feminism and spewing sexism, like some sort of Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman-Hater. This is also not a new problem, but it is one that seems to have become crystallized by this movie.

Over the past decade there has been a movement that has formed -largely because of the Internet- which has been labeled as a Men’s Rights movement. This group of individuals -some of which are not actually men- see the rising equality of women not for what it is, but instead take it as an affront to their own manhood. They see it as the feminizing of our culture, as if raising up women somehow negates their worth. It is the kind of backlash movement that you see with anything. After all, white supremacists don’t go around shouting that they hate black men -well sometimes they do- instead they go around talking about “white pride,” or “preserving the white race,” or “White Lives Matter.” No hate group actually frames their message in hate. They couch it in a subversive pride, as if somehow making another group equal means demeaning their own group. These Men’s Rights activists don’t look at the new Ghostbusters and think, “Hmm… I suppose we can give women this, considering the majority of all other movies -especially in the action/comedy genre- so often cast women as vapid sex objects or MacGuffin-like prizes to be pursued and won by male leads.” No, they look at this very narrow and rare type of gender reversal and somehow feel it is a threat to them and their way of life. They have to focus on this one example so vehemently, because if they expanded their worldview even a little their argument falls apart.

Compare this to the classic movies, where even Dana Barrett a strong and capable woman still ends up being nothing more than Venkman’s love interest and the person the Ghosbusters need to rescue… twice. Janine Melnitz is the secretary who basically throws herself at Egon, only to be comically rebuffed by the otherwise distracted scientist. That is the majority of the women roles in the old Ghostbusters, and many similar 80’s and 90’s movies. Even Marvel -the wildly successful comic company- has never had a female lead, after nearly a decade of movies. The other problem is that the women selected for these roles are not “Hollywood Hot.” They are comedians, -all of which, by the way, are funnier than the majority of the current male cast members of SNL- but even in 2016 women in movies are meant to be eye candy. At least in comparison to men who can look like Jonah Hill or Seth Rogan and still pull in the crowds. There is an undeniable double-standard in Hollywood, and the new Ghostbusters, has knowingly and willingly stepped into it. At the very least, no matter how bad the movie may actually be, that is something worth applauding.

Don’t Cross the Memes
Here is the thing, if anti-feminists want a movie to watch there are literally thousands of them to choose from. We recommend 50 Shades of Grey, mostly because that movie spouts the same sort of abusive, untouchable, masculine power crap that most Men’s Rights activists would find appealing. In comparison, the new Ghostbusters is doing something to help break boundaries, and it is causing us to have this conversation. Those are both good things, and as fans of the Ghostbusters franchise we feel that is actually a pretty worthwhile addition to the history of these movies. Yet, the real problem with this whole containment breach of a conversation is that we may never actually know how bad or good this movie will be. There will be people who will hate it for no reason and others who will love it for the very same “no reasons.” This movie will never be judged based solely on its merits as a movie, and that is a shame.

As we said previously, we have not seen it yet, but we will. Hopefully, we will be able to be fair and objective in our like or dislike of this newest installment in the world of busting ghosts, but we are not always hopeful. After all, to hate it will mean that we are anti-feminists, but to love it may be disingenuous. This peripheral ectoplasam that we are all stepping in does nothing to enhance the conversation of whether or not this will be a good and a bad movie, and really isn’t that what it should really be about in the end? In a world that is truly equal it shouldn’t matter if the lead is a woman or a man or a green blob of free-floating goo. The fans are the ones that have kept this franchise alive for over three decades and that is something special. All the rest is just a bunch of bull… slime, but that’s only one opinion.

The original Ghostbusters came out back in 1984, as a true product of its time. The Reagan era was just starting to heat up. The recession of the early 1980’s was affecting families across the board, and Times Square had more strippers than a paint store. It was not a time for heroes who were powerful or rich or even expertly skilled. Instead, it was a time for the working class man to stand up and take charge. The Ghostbusters fit the bill perfectly. Blue collar workers just doing an extraordinary job, not with a flashy smile or a giant cape, but with jumpsjuits and an unsure joke, like heroic garbage men. We at The NYRD can only wonder if the newest crop of Ghosbusters will have the same every-man -or every-woman- feel to it.

Dogs and Cats
To understand the true charm of Ghostbusters you need some background on what America was like in 1984. Two years prior, unemployment reached 9.7% nationwide -and as high as 11% in some areas- which is the highest it has ever been. By 1984 it was still hovering around 7.5%, and would not shrink down to less than 6% until 1988. The recession of the early 80’s was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. This economic state came about because of a few factors. Many of the newly unemployed were from the production industry, as American producers began moving overseas or just could not compete. The Federal Government also tried to regulate inflation and unemployment through an artificial stop-go monetary policy, but it proved to be unsustainable, and eventually burst. In essence the economic loss was created through a failure of business and government.

Ronald Reagan was serving his first term in office and running for reelection in 1984. The President’s message of American exceptionalism and optimism resonated with voters and he easily defeated his Democratic opponent in a landslide victory. Part of Reagan’s success and part of the tenor of the decade came from the President’s personality. Some would call it arrogance, but for many it was a reassuring feeling that even when times looked bad Americans had the ability to pick themselves and change their circumstance and the world. This was doubly so when it came to the Cold War. America was left fighting an intangible boogeyman, but for maybe the first time in several decades that enemy no longer seemed as unconquerable or scary. American arms and ingenuity showed potential to exterminate the red specter, once and for all.

In the field of science, the United States was proving it could make fantasy seem like reality, with innovations like cell phones and stretchy pants. The shuttle program was still brand new and exciting. Suddenly, the astronauts going into space were no longer military heroes or combat pilots. Instead, the shuttle allowed regular scientists to journey into near Earth orbit to conduct tests and repair satellites. Being an astronaut now meant being a scientist, not a test pilot. The label of scientist itself was beginning to change. No longer did it apply to villains in pulp comics, or that guy in the laboratory with crazy hair. In a small way, scientists and their crazy ideas were becoming something more mainstream.

Crossing the Streams
Ghostbusters drew on everything that the early 1980’s had to offer. Dr. Stanz, Dr. Spengler, and Dr. Venkman were all scientists, originally working at Columbia University, but within the first few frames of the film they find themselves out on the street. Many people in early 80’s, including highly educated and professional workers, similarly, found themselves unemployed and forced to work jobs at lower wages that they were overqualified for. Enter into that mix Winston Zeddemore, who didn’t even believe in ghosts. He was just a man looking for a paycheck, perhaps the most believable motivation in movie history. Nor did the ghost-busting business even bring success to the four men as they were always broke, but like many Americans they pushed on hoping  to find a way out of financial crisis.

The group was never portrayed as heroic. They were just regular guys doing a job, and that has always been part of the movie’s charm. The Ghostbusters are more like exterminators than elite commandos. Even the imagery of Ecto-1, the simple uniforms, and the firehouse portray images of the working class. Being a Ghostbuster looks like a job anyone can do. In fact, part of the optimism of the 1980’s was the romance of the working man. People like Bruce Springsteen immortalized the plight of the average Joe who was just doing what he could for a paycheck and his lady. Yes the three main characters were scientists but they didn’t exactly fit any typical scientist mold, except for maybe Egon. Much like NASA, Ghostbusters showed us that scientists are not all alike. Some are weird and straighten their childhood slinkies while others can actually be funny and charming, and they were accomplishing something that even the government couldn’t do.

Reagan was a big proponent of the idea that the “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Nor was big business the solution either. After all, both the factory industry and government regulation had failed to keep the American people out of a recession. Instead, everyday people became the solution to even the biggest problems, including ghosts. The idea of actual and dangerous specters is the type of problem you would almost expect a government agency to handle. Gozer seems like the kind of thing we would need attack helicopters and marines to solve, but in Ghostbusters, the government is part of the problem. Gozer is heralded by an explosion caused by Walter Peck, the EPA representative and most-punchable-character, after he shut down the containment unit. Eventually, even the government of New York has to admit that the Ghostbusters -independent workering men- were more quipped to solve the massive ghost problem than their own agencies. It is the ultimate fulfillment of Reagan’s declaration.

Lastly, it may be a stretch to say that the ghost could literally represent the Soviet Union, but there may be something to the fact that in the 80’s people were tired of feeling afraid of some vague and nebulous specter hanging over them. The ghosts more accurately represent the ever present threat that hung over the Cold War, an intangible spirit that quietly menaced an otherwise peaceful existence. Yet, with the reassuring leadership of Reagan beginning a massive nuclear buildup suddenly defeating the Great Red-Free-Floating-Full-Torso-Vaporous Apparition seemed not only possible but within the realm of accomplishment. After all, what do the Ghostbusters use to defeat ghosts, nuclear power, or more precisely “unlicensed nuclear accelerators,” and of course a good bit of Murray -read American- charisma. In the end of the first movie the Ghostbusters choose the nuclear option to defeat Gozer and in the second movie they choose giant walking symbolism -and American patriotism- to defeat the Eastern European tyrant, Vigo.

Bustin’ Makes Feel Good
These blue collar hero scientists probably could not have existed in cinema even a decade before hand. The Ghostbusters were products of their times, and like any good art that imitates the paranormal-antics of life, they also helped influence it. For many children of the 80’s and 90’s -like those currently employed here at The NYRD- Ghostbusters became a mark of the decade as much as bright colors and big hair. Of course, it is also worth mentioning that the movie would not have been possible without the prior existence of organizations like Saturday Night Live or National Lampoons who perfected the right sort of comedy/interest movie that became so classic in the 1980’s. Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd did not set out to pen an existential and supernatural look at the world around them, but they did nonetheless. They not only managed to make something that was funny but also relatable to the world they inhabited. That is not an easy task for a supernatural comedy about exterminating giant walking marshmallow men, but it worked.

So as we near the opening for the newest Ghostbusters, we here at The NYRD have hope. Much like the original, the new one is emerging after a time of an economic recession rivaled only by the recession that helped herald the 1980’s Ivan Reitman film. Saturday Night Live -though modernized and slicker- still holds the comedic heavy-weight title and it is no coincidence that much of the film’s cast is drawn from its ranks. We doubt that this newest female-led version will be the same as the original male-led movie, but that’s okay. After all, if this new movie hopes to succeed, it will need to be a product of 2016 in much the same way that Ghostbusters translated and epitomized the feel of 1984.