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Paul Feig and the Ghostbusters Stars Aren’t Interested in Being a Litmus Test

"I hope hate stops being popular. It’s tiring and completely ineffectual."-Melissa McCarthy, Ghostbuster.


The closer we get to Ghostbusters, the wearier and warier I become. The movie comes out July 14th, and I increasingly feel that, if it’s bad, critics and fans who have supported the movie during its turbulent internet reception will be expected to concede defeat. Of course, the only people who would see it that way are the people who don’t think women-led movies should be given the same leniency as films led by men.

In the unlikely event that Ghostbusters is an unfunny, messy, addition to the franchise, I won’t regret defending the trailer against people who hated it just because of the performers’ gender, and I won’t feel like an idiot for having been excited by the concept of a film that did not ultimately deliver in its execution. If Ghostbusters is bad, I won’t see it as a blight on women everywhere. Plenty of male-driven movies don’t live up to their hype or the standard set by other films in their franchise, and no one sees those flops as definitive proof that male-led movies can’t succeed.

Unfortunately, lots of people on the internet and in Hollywood can’t see that the absurd pressure placed on Ghostbusters right now evidences a double standard, so there’s a chance that, if the movie is widely conceded to be bad, it could have an impact on any upcoming possible female-led comedies.

In an interview with The New York Times this week, Paul Feig and the movie’s stars addressed that unfair pressure. They gently reminded the interviewer that no female-led comedy will ever be the litmus test for whether or not female comedies can be commercially and critically successful in Hollywood, because every female-led comedy faces intense scrutiny. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

Will Hollywood look at this movie as a litmus test of ——

WIIG [emphatically] How many litmus tests do we need? [laughter] I’ve been hearing this for five years. Sorry, I’m finished.

FEIG But I will tell you, yes, it is being looked at that way. It’s not fair, that in 2016 we should be in this situation where this is standard. That’s where Hollywood should go, “Wow, we are so behind the times.” There’s so much gender diversity and parity, in other fields. Here it just hasn’t happened and that’s ridiculous.

Feig went on to say that he hopes one day female-led comedies will be just as accepted as male-driven ones: “The whole “chick-flick” idea is an excuse for guys not to have to see something. It’s what I consider to be a derogatory title. I try with my movies to go: Look how funny these people are. Guys were taken to see “Bridesmaids,” which looked like the ultimate chick flick to them, and they all came out like, Oh my God, that’s so funny.”

The director also admitted that, no duh, Ghostbusters is a cash grab. Literally every Hollywood movie ever is a cash grab: “I think it’s the death throes of the old guard. It makes a smaller minority scream louder, because they’re losing their grip on the cliff. I understand, if somebody was remaking The Godfather, I would be like, “Wait a minute.” But when everybody’s like, “It’s a cash grab”? Everything ever made in Hollywood since the beginning of time is a cash grab. That’s why the original Ghostbusters existed. It wasn’t an altruistic thing. Studios make movies to make money, and filmmakers try to make something that will entertain an audience while trying to make money for the studio.”

For her part, Leslie Jones says she can’t understand why fans of the original Ghostbsuters wouldn’t be excited to see the property getting attention again: “When we did this reboot, I thought Ghostbusters fans would be so excited: “They’ve got the new technology — the ghosts are going to look real now.”

To read the interview in its entirety, head over to The New York Times.

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