But Is It Funny?

From everything I’ve seen, unless you are a rabid man hater, no the new Ghostbusters movie is not funny. I’m certainly not going to pay to see it. especially when this seems like the biggest joke.

Since Paul Feig’s all-female reboot of the 1984 classic was announced, a small yet vocal group of angry misogynists have derailed the film’s rollout, spamming social media and launching a coordinated effort to make its trailer the most disliked in YouTube history. These crackpots are not representative of the larger viewing public, but they do represent a more extreme version of the ingrained sexism in Hollywood. As we know from experience, if Ghostbusters flops, one narrative will engulf all others, like a tidal wave of ectoplasmic slime smothering all rational voices: Women movies bad! Women no funny! Women box-office kryptonite! Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts!

Ghostbusters faces an uphill battle to be considered a success. The film cost $144 million, pricey for a comedy, so the studio will be hoping for a $50 million opening weekend (with low-end predictions around $39 million to $41 million). Opening weekend shapes the story about a film’s fate, which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to drawing more viewers in down the road. While some films gain “legs” over time, usually by favorable word of mouth, Ghostbusters will be expected to start strong, given the fact that it’s part of a much-hyped franchise with major brand recognition. If the numbers are middling come Monday, it may be too late.

This wouldn’t matter much if the only thing at stake was Ghostbusters sequels. But female-led blockbusters in Hollywood are still such a rarity, and the view that audiences won’t watch movies helmed by women so pervasive, that every female-led film is seen as a litmus test for every future one. (Particularly a major action-comedy tentpole like this one.) If Ghostbusters flops, nobody will point to the weak script or an excessive budget. They’ll look to the one factor that deviates from the Hollywood norm: the gender of the stars fronting it.


The assumption that a few people could or would create almost  a million or so sockpuppets just to downcheck the YouTube video is just silly.   All those people are only doing this because they are misogynists?  Or maybe it was because the trailer was just plain bad.  As I said at the time, it looked to me as sit marketing was sabotaging the movie. Apparently not.


By making this political rather than just letting the movie stand or fall on it’s own, New York Magazine and the rest of swells are putting the kiss of death on the very thing that a movie needs to have, entertainment value.

Instead the film seems to be a mess. The people making this movie seem so intent on making MEN pay for all their sins that they forgot that extremism taken seriously is “NOT FUNNY.” Comedy is hard because you have to hold things up for self examination and most people can’t do that. Especially when, like most Progressives, you take everything as SEROIUSLY, IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD, take it to eleven approach that always seems to permeate everything they do.

It doesn’t help matters that the film  resorts to obvious crude stereotypes and treating women the same as men while trying to remind  us that they are still men.  To say nothing of the just plain crudity that shows up in the trailers. Along the constant SJW speak and clips of useless men.




Now, as Steve Green points out, the original Ghostbusters was the result of a special series of things coming together in just the right way.

Ghostbusters was lightning in a bottle — a weird, one-off, one-time thing. The timing and the elements were such that not even the original writers, cast, and director could make a decent sequel. But the beloved original worked for a host of interlocking reasons, almost certainly never to be repeated.

The first is Dan Ackroyd. The man is obsessed with the paranormal. He believes in this stuff:

Dan Aykroyd really does believe in ghosts. “It’s the family business, for God’s sake,” he says from his family’s farmhouse in Ontario, site of Aykroyd séances for generations. Aykroyd’s great-grandfather was a renowned spiritualist; the family had its own regular medium to channel souls from the other side. His grandfather—a telephone engineer—investigated the possibility of contacting the dead via radio technology. His father authored a well-regarded history of ghosts; strange lights halo his daughter in photographs.

Outside of Hollywood, the Ackroyd family obsession might make Dan at best an awkward party guest. But Ackroyd also enjoys a earnest-but-goofy charm and serious comedic chops.

However — Ackroyd’s initial treatment for Ghostbusters wasn’t the grounded NYC comedy we remember so well. According to the DVD commentary, Ackroyd had originally envisioned the ‘Busters as bored ecto-garbagemen sent to other dimensions to do cleanup work. Comedy is difficult enough in the real world, let alone when trying to drag audiences through unfamiliar universes.

Fortunately, director Ivan Reitman recognized the comedic (and budget-busting) problem early on, and suggested a rewrite set in New York City. While the production did have big budget for a comedy at that time, the relatively primitive special effects meant that Reitman couldn’t rely on spectacle to save Ackroyd’s idea from its inherent weirdness.


Alone, Ackroyd’s earnest devotion would have been too much for an audience to accept — so we got Bill Murray and his cynical charm added to the mix. That was the audience’s “in” to this strange new world, much like Han Solo’s comment about the Force being “a lot of simple tricks and nonsense” helped audiences to suspend their disbelief for Star Wars. Ernie Hudson was the Everyman who allowed us to imagine ourselves doing the unlikely work of busting ghosts, and Harold Ramis was the real-world scientist/engineer who provided the necessary veneer of scientific credibility.

On the screen, Murray, Hudson, and Ramis brought Ackroyd’s otherworldly lunacy into the real world for everyone to enjoy. Behind the scenes, Reitman’s light touch from the director’s chair let all the stars shine. It also helped that everybody was just funny and/or sexy as hell — I’m looking at you, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver.

And, as a follower on Twitter reminded me last year, New York City was just as much a character as any of the actors were. That is, the NYC of the early ’80s. The city at that time was nearly broke, crime-ridden, badly managed — a lovable underdog in need of heroes. A city to cheer for.


It’s important to remember that the NYC of 1980’s was a key part of the atmosphere of the original movie. The movie worked because it set up believable conflicts.  The mayor in the original movie was believable because, well we could almost see Ed Koch right there in the character and poor Ed always seemed to be out of his depth. I lived through NYC Back there was always that gritty edge to the place. It was the city that was burning itself down.  And going just plain crazy, seemingly  Along with the general sense of chaos and weirdness. The  place was already very creepy and that  made it all too easy to believe in ghosts rampaging through town.

That’s not the NYC of now.  The NYC of now is the city that bleeds wealth and security, the city where Times Square is Disney.  That city of the 1980’s is gone, replaced by a city that’s in some ways much better and in others lacks the gritt opportunism that pervaded the 1980’s. Now it’s the city where even the copycat Rolex vendors pay rent for the space. IN any case it’s no longer the great setting for ghost stories that it was.

If they were going to reboot Ghostbusters,  why not try a different city. How about San Francisco? Or Portland OR?  OR LA?  All cities with issues, all cities with a large degree of chaos right now.  Of course all cities with aggressive feminist Progressivism. I suspect that there was a certain of fear in poking the wrong ox.  Better to not risk the offense of the trigglypuffs with a mistaken micro aggression.

Better to appease the people who would take you down out of spite by feeding that spite, I suppose.  Better to lose a fortune of somebody else’s money by retreading the same old tropes and reinforcing the tired narrative.  Better to keep it safe.  The problem with that is that true comedy is never “safe.”  If you only offend those that are safe to offend, then there’s no risk and that risk has been fundamental to comedy right back to the beginning.  Read the old Greek plays.  Or much of Shakespeare.  They were not playing it “safe.”  Which is why those plays have endured as great literature. And are still funny.  Which the ghostbusters movie doesn’t seem to be.  Nobody seems to be laughing anyway.

The people at Columbia should have read this quote from John Wright.

Markus Dohle, you dolt. We are in the clown business. Our job is to make the customer smile, or laugh, or on rare occasion, ponder some new thought, but only if it entertains him. We are not his teacher, his father confessor, his mother or his guru. We are his servant, the fool the king keeps by his throne to kick. In a free market, the customer is king.

We are competing for his beer money. He could buy a computer game, a comic book, a pack of songs or a pack of smokes instead with the money we ask him to plunk down on the barrel head for books about space marines in power armor or men from Mars named Smith.

If the customer wanted us to do social engineering, they would have voted for us for alderman. If they wanted us to lead a crusade, they would have written a letter to the Pope.

They want us to sing a song, say a poem, tell a love story, tell a tall tale of adventure, make dark days bright, boring days memorable, and to remind them of what the world really should be.

It is a godlike task, not to be taken lightly. But that is the whole task.


What goes for books, goes double for movies.  the studio is asking us for our hard earned money. For that all we ask is a couple of hours relief from the stresses that are oppressing us.  In the end it comes down to; “Is it funny/”



  1. Del Varner · July 19, 2016

    For a truly disfunctional city use either Detroit or Chicago.


    • bpeschel · July 19, 2016

      You’re right. Detroit would have been a brilliant idea. Or, heck, use New Orleans and throw in some Cajun voodoo. Have Katrina unearth the Zombie King, a la Godzilla.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob B 59 · July 19, 2016

    I like the idea of a Portland setting. Especially if the ghosts appeared in a cameo at the Womym and Womyn first bookstore. It would have defused a lot of the casting brouhaha. Self deprication is necessary in these circumstances.


  3. pohjalainen · July 19, 2016

    For starters a sequel reboot would have been better. Make up some reason why the ghosts disappeared for a couple of decades and lots of people even stopped believing in them which is why there are no more Ghostbusters, then some reason why the threat is now coming back and some student/s/daughter or niece with a few friends/fan/s of the original group figure it out and decide they need to do something. That would have shown more respect to the original and its fans. And I don’t care that they are all women, at first it sounded even like a good idea, but I hate almost everything else I have seen online of this movie. And the fact that it does not sound particularly funny (the trailers and clips sure as hell aren’t). And doesn’t look good, I quite dislike the candy colored ghosts.

    And I do hate the idea of the stupid – genuinely stupid – male receptionist Hemsworth seems to be playing. I generally dislike stupid characters and don’t find them funny. Janine in the original is a ditz, but she doesn’t seem to be particularly stupid. Why not do that as a male version? Noo, they had to go for the idiot version…

    I haven’t seen it yet. I will probably watch it at some point, but maybe not in a theater (or I’ll pick some cheaper matinee showing – not sure, I am morbidly curious about this, kind of for the same reasons why people slow down to look at an accident, but would much prefer not to give it my money), but everything points to a movie I will most likely hate. Even if it is halfway decent.

    And I am a woman, btw. Which adds one more reason to hate this movie. I would actually like to see blockbuster type movies with female leads a bit more often, especially normal looking women instead of the more normal beauties. But when they make this kind of shit when they try to make one – yep, they are quite right that it makes the chance of seeing a bit more of them quite unlikely. Except they are so goddamn wrong about the reasons…


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