2016 Part Deux: Even Worse
In my My World of Flops piece on Milo Yiannopoulos’ loathsome manifesto Dangerous, I wrote about the right-wing provocateur writing about his online harassment of Leslie Jones and anti-Ghostbusters campaign “with the arrogance of someone who knows he just needs to drop the right buzzwords or say the right names to get his audience to lose their shit. Milo seems to think that he doesn’t need to explain how his harassment of Jones got him kicked off Twitter, or the basics of GamerGate to readers because they are both such historic triumphs that minstrels sing songs and poets write rapturous odes to the epic victory that ensued when the Great Milo slew the silly movie about the girl ghost chasers, saving humanity and men as a gender in the process.”
Milo can legitimately point to helping a monstrously unqualified, just plain monstrous non-politician, non-leader like Donald Trump get elected leader of the free world as a genuine accomplishment. Yet he seems just as proud, if not more proud, to have a played a role in the commercial under-performance of a silly movie about wacky goofs battling ghosts.
The cultural conversation surrounding the 2016, female-centered Ghostbusters reboot was mind-meltingly stupid and obnoxious. A gaggle of man-children, empowered by the “victories” of Gamergate, or at least the attention and the exposure, decided to turn a science-fiction comedy into a hotly contested cultural flashpoint involving race, gender, sex and representation and Milo was there to cheer them on, less because he gave a mad-ass fuck about something like Ghostbusters but rather because this was an opportunity to whine about the excesses of PC culture and SJWs in a way that would attract lots of attention and hurt his enemies where it most counts: in the bottom line.
The controversy was so huge, and overblown and cynically manufactured by opportunists like Milo that it completely overshadowed the goofy, mostly enjoyable and totally justifiable popcorn movie ostensibly at its center.
As obnoxious as the Ghostbusters controversy was, I took comfort in knowing that eventually it would be over, and we’d never have to think about all these particular man-babies shitting their diapers over something from their childhood being different ever again. It was like the “Bernie versus everybody”/“Bernie would have won”/“Bernie got screwed” kerfuffle: incredibly annoying, even for people who voted for Sanders, as I did, but also something that would blissfully be over soon. These angry, heated debates took up lots of time and energy that otherwise could have been devoted to finding a cure for Cancer and wiping out homelessness but at least they finally fucking ended.
At least we thought they had ended. In the past month or so, two of the biggest, most obnoxious controversies/debates of 2016 came roaring back to life like a seemingly dead slasher in a horror movie with a pair of unfortunate developments. The seventy-seven year old Sanders decided to run for president again, and his army of devoted followers began angrily and confrontationally re-litigating the events of 2016 all over again.
Then a teaser trailer for a new, non-female Ghostbusters movie was released and its director, Jason Reitman, told Bill Burr on Burr’s podcast that his new Ghostbusters movie would be a “love letter to Ghostbusters” that would “hand the movies back to fans.”
Reitman’s comment about handing the movie back to fans was widely criticized as a dog whistle to sexist Ghostbusters fans that their beloved baby had been snatched away by feminists and SJWs out to make some manner of shrill political point at the expense of the Ghostbusters franchise’s fundamental integrity but that a Hollywood prince of nepotism would get them their movie back, and with it, their humanity and dignity as human beings, all of which were lost when a Ghostbusters movie starring women was green-lit.
If Reitman was handing the franchise back to the “fans” that implied that it had been snatched away from the fans. If that were the case, then who did the franchise-snatching? The ladies, of course, with the help of that monstrous traitor to his gender, Paul Feig.
I don’t think Reiman was trying to insult the people behind the 2016 Ghostbusters. But he is a pragmatic second generation Hollywood professional who was catering his words and his message to the audience, and “We’re making a real Ghostbusters for the fans” is going to resonate with the audience of Burr’s podcast a lot more strongly than “Maybe I can get Diablo Cody to punch up the script” or “of course this movie will reflect changes in our culture that have occurred over the past three and a half decades.”
It makes sense that the female Ghostbusters came out in 2016 and the Jason Reitman version will come out in 2020, since they feel as much like political campaigns for the hearts and minds of the moviegoing public, but more specifically the internet, as they do motion pictures.
These dispiriting rehashes of the most obnoxious, divisive debates of 2016 has just kicked off and I’m already bored to tears by them. All that’s left is for David Bowie, Prince and Tom Petty to all come back to life just to die a few days later to make 2019 officially the worst reboot of an ostentatiously terrible year EVER.
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