Stories are often rewritten by those who want to share their personal vision on an original tale – this is nothing new. From picture book renditions of source materials to blockbuster movie adaptations, there are countless retellings of stories like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast. Recently Jon Favreau’s interpretation of Rudyard Kiplinger’s novel the Jungle Book presented a darker take in live action/ CGI format. In Favreau’s movie, “I Wanna Be like You,” the iconic catchy jazzy tune from the original Disney animated version sung by King Louie, takes a slightly more sinister spin as presented through the recognizable voice of Christopher Walken. However, while my inner child was nostalgic for the original light-hearted song, I also appreciated Walken’s representation as well. Other popular movie remakes (some with several) include Godzilla, Robin Hood, Tarzan, The Nutty Professor, The Karate Kid, The Bad News Bears, The Parent Trap, Clash of the Titans, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes a new interpretation, like John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, may even surpass the original or become the preferred version among fans.
When a remake is announced, sure, some might roll an eye and think “can’t anyone come up with an original idea” or “I really liked the first version – why did they have to go and remake that movie?” but being a fan is, after all, being defensive in a sense. The release of next week’s remake of the 1984 Ghostbusters movie with its all-female cast replacing the original foursome of Aykroyd, Murray, Hudson and Ramis seems to be taking more hits than usual though. Much of the criticism surrounding the reboot stems from whether or not Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon can do justice to the original film not as actors but, specifically, as female actors. So, rather than media focus centering on how the cast has the potential to, perhaps, motivate young girls to pursue careers in the sciences, it is instead focusing on whether or not women can carry a blockbuster movie.
When the trailer released in 2015, naysayers took to social media like YouTube and Twitter posting misogynistic remarks regarding the all-female cast. An article posted on MSNBC.com, “Sexist ‘Ghostbusters’ Backlash Coincides with 2016 Gender Divide” by Adam Howard notes how “after just two trailers and a few commercial spots, legions of fanboys have taken to comment sections to lambaste the project. Its first trailer, released in March, set a record for most dislikes on YouTube and prompted one popular online critic to refuse to even review it.” The article further emphasizes how the success or failure of the movie with its all-female cast has the potential to affect the careers of female comedians both directly and indirectly.
Not all the backlash points fingers at the female cast. For example, movie producer Ivan Reitman, as shared in a Time.com article, claims that criticism isn’t based on anti-feminist rants but rather from overly protective hardcore fans of the original movie. And, yes, many fans are most likely annoyed at a remake in general. However, the fact that any criticism suggests that the movie’s all-female lead cast is a negative simply because they are women is a disappointingly sad reminder of how closed-minded many can still be.
I am a fan of the original movie and I have my concerns just like I do when any movie I have fond memories of is remade. My concerns, though, have nothing to do with the casting choices for the lead characters. I’d feel the same concerns if the cast had consisted of people like Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen. Ghostbusters was one of the first movies I saw in the theaters – it presented the perfect combination of comedy and horror for my childhood self. I am personally less concerned with how Wiig, McCarthy, Jones and McKinnon will portray their characters as I am with how and if the movie will do justice to the highly memorable opening library ghost scene. If they get that scene wrong – this librarian will be highly disappointed! And they better not mess up Slimer or The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man either! I guess I’ll find out on Friday July 15 when the movie releases nationwide.