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‘Ghostbusters’ and the Death of Comedy

Really? Abortion is a difficult topic. So are drone strikes, capital punishment and enhanced interrogation.

Ghostbusters” is about a four heroes in grey suits taking down paranormal creatures. Easy peasy.

Not any more.

ghostbusters-original
Your original Ghostbusters circa 1984.

The decision to remake “Ghostbusters [Blu-ray]” with four female, not male, performers had some wisdom to it. It makes the long-delayed reboot instantly different. It also allows the new cast members to blaze their own trail while escaping the shadows left by the original team. Who wants to measure up against Bill Murray? Anyone?

What’s the bottom line?

That casting decision unleashed the full force of modern political correctness. Some saw the casting choices as insulting the original film’s legacy. Others viewed it as a chance to flex female power at the box office. Finally.

In the latter case, “Ghostbusters” is now not just another movie reboot. It’s a cause celebre, If it fails, women in Hollywood will be hardest hit. So now everything surrounding the project has a PC charge to it.

It’s why TheVerge.com felt compelled to publish this essay, entitled, “How to talk about the new Ghostbusters movie with friends, family, and commenters.”

Ghostbusters is a difficult topic. To help you through the next few months, we created a simple guide to writing about or discussing the film. Whenever you feel yourself bubbling with rage about four women destroying everything you’ve ever loved, open this page and protect yourself and the internet from inexhaustive rage.

Sound unnecessary? Movie fans are already upset that one of the four new characters isn’t a scientist according to the film’s first trailer. The reboot, like the 1984 original, focuses on three paranormal experts -- read scientists -- who battle a wave of ghosts in New York City.

RELATED: Is Comedy Tide Turning Against PC Culture?

Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig play the three scientists, with Leslie Jones joining the team already in progress. The first three actresses are white. Jones is black. Guess what happened next?

That’s only one of many outraged tweets. The trailer even inspired one YouTube regular, Smoothiefreak, to record this charming rant.

Comedy in 2016 is already on life support. Comedians live in fear that a particular joke will outrage someone, anyone, and the blowback will go viral. Jobs are at stake. So are livelihoods. When Jerry Seinfeld, the squeakiest of squeaky clean comics, complains about people taking his jokes the wrong way, there’s a problem.

The upcoming documentary “Can We Take a Joke?” lets stand-ups speak out against the PC Police. Will it arrive in time to change hearts and minds?ghostbusters-2016-reboot-posters

We just watched an entire Oscars ceremony begging us to forgive Hollywood for being racist. What happened next? People were upset by jokes they say targeted Asian-Americans.

Would you want to write comedy for a living today?

Lost in the kerfuffle? The first “Ghostbusters” trailer just isn’t funny. Not even close. The finished product could still be a blast. The film’s cast is impressive and director Paul Feig  previously delivered “Bridesmaids.”

“Ghostbusters” hits theaters July 15. By then, will anyone be in the mood to even watch it assuming the current PC dialogue continues?

UPDATE: According to The Washington Post, we’re only allowed one point of view on the new “Ghostbusters” trailer.


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92 Comments

    1. Carol Burnett? Lucille Ball? Lilly Tomlin? Hilarious
      Madeline Kahn? Gilda Radner? Tracy Ullman? Funny too
      Sara Silverman? Amy Poehler? Amy Schumer? I guess it’s a matter of taste.

      1. Carol Burnett was a force of nature, Lucille Ball as well. Some of the others have some genuine comedy chops, but none of them can open a movie. I could be missing something here but comedy is largely the enjoyment of watching people fall down and half the population has it as their duty to prevent such from happening to the other half. At least, that’s my working theory.

        1. Carol Burnett transcended comedy to also showed us great dimensions of pathos, suffering, and human tragedy. Her mother-daughter performances with Vicki Lawrence were often heartrending. Her insights into the human condition were often extraordinary, yet disguised as entertaining skits.

      2. People happen to mis-speak when they say “women” aren’t funny.
        The people who ain’t funny, and who have no sense of humor, are FEMINISTS!!! Not “women.” Does that clear up the confusion?

      3. Everyone in the first paragraph is great. Poehler is terrific, and Schumer can be very funny on occasion. But Sarah Silverman is the most overrated comic on Earth. They gave her an Emmy recently for a TV special that had about three laughs in it. If you want to see an example of Einstein’s theories about time slowing down in action, watch her gross, deadly bit from last week’s Oscars about having sex with James Bond. Hard to believe that lasted only a little over a minute.

      4. I’m sick of staking the comedic fortitude of all of women on fucking Lucille Ball. Her show went off the air in the 50’s, find someone else who’s funny by now.

    2. Can’t believe it needs to be said, but it does.

      Exclude the women with male writers. Lucy goes down in flames on that one, as do all the older generation comics.

      Any still standing?

      Maybe the modern “comedians.” Now, how many of those women can make a joke that doesn’t involve their who-who-dilly? Can you think of a single bit Schumer or Silverman does that doesn’t boil down to “Cute girl says dirty things for cheap laughs?”

      That leaves 0.

      1. How about Phyllis Diller? I don’t know how her “My husband Fang” would sit with the Asian-American community today, but in her time she was pretty funny.

  1. Before I even heard that the leads would all be female, I thought a remake of Ghostbusters was a mistake. The original was a lightning in a bottle kind of thing that hit theaters at the right time driven by the right cast. I don’t think the sequel(s)? did well, I know I never saw them or had any interest in seeing them.
    I’ll wait and maybe see this one on Blu-ray/Netflx eventually if it gets good reviews. Not something I’m interested in seeing in the theater.

    1. Personally I like the university. They gave us money and facilities. We didn’t have to produce anything. You’ve never been out of college. You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.
      –Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters

      “Lightning in a bottle… at the right time”, indeed.

    2. The chemistry between the leads in the original was a critical element. I’m just not seeing that in the trailer for the new movie. The individual performers may be fine but the effect of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts is missing.

      1. Completely agree, I was trying to think of a list of male actors who could do a reboot and came up empty. I just think it’s a bad idea and wonder what the actresses agents were thinking. Kind of like pitching a remake of ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ today. ???

      1. I’ve seen trailers for bad movies that made me want to see the movie, though. Anchorman II comes to mind. TERRIBLE sequel.

        Either they gave the trailer to the wrong company (which I doubt) or – that’s the funniest parts of the movie.

  2. What’s really bad is the Internet. No matter what happens, five people will take offense, post a YouTube video, and the media will act as if Jane Doe is the spokesperson of a generation. The thrust of the article is correct.. can’t we take a joke? It’s like how with Looney Tunes, Speedy Gonzales is now seen as a stereotype but Elmer is not seen as a bad stereotype for older white men. (Btw, neither is a stereotype. Speedy was based on a real person from Mexico that the animators knew, and he was always proud of being a cartoon character who always won.)

    The trailer didn’t look all that funny, and that’s okay. Other than some one-liners and a few scenes, the original film played it straight for large stretches at a time. It was fun, not the Marx Brothers. Yes, it’s strange I would find myself defending this reboot, but it really doesn’t look that bad.

    As for Leslie Jones, does not the random YouTuber realize that Ernie Hudson played it about the same way? He was an everyman (toned down from being special forces in an early script) and some of his scenes in II would be excoriated today (“Judge, I have seen s**t that will turn you WHITE!”) for not being PC enough.

        1. NO, he just acted…that’s why this movie will flop…they’ve tried to hard to use a stereotypical black ghetto bitch type…when they just needed “everywoman” type…but that’s what happens in Political Correctness racism comes out in unintended ways…

    1. But Ernie Hudson DIDN’T play it the same way. Winston Zedmore was a normal guy looking for a job who got drawn into the exceeding weirdness surrounding the founding trio. The Leslie Jones character character is depicting as a fan girl looking to buy her way with little more than force of personality. These are almost polar opposites.

      1. Hey, if you cast Jim Carrey and Jeff McDaniel as two of the ghosts, and let them improvise, you could turn things around. I don’t know what it would do to the film budget, though.

  3. I hope the movie does well for Kate McKinnon. She’s got great range and is extremely funny. The recent SNL skit on the three people abducted by aliens is one of the best things SNL ever did.

  4. I think that was supposed to be a satire of the “How to Talk About…” genre. But it ended up just being an example of it.

  5. they should have made the uneducated one a white red neck woman and had a really attractive black scientist….a little hostility to smart people.. (maybe racism)..personal growth, and an ability to provide the necessary mechanical and transportation back up to save the day.

    But not with the stereotypes they used.

  6. “To help you through the next few months…”

    Do they really think it will be around for “the next few months.”

  7. 25% of the Ghostbusters are black……that’s about double the black percentage of the U.S……I think we should get rid of that character and make some unimportant character black, so we can arrive at something hopefully closer to being representative.

  8. I predict a massive box-office failure. Not that such losses deter SJW types. Propaganda rarely produces a profitable product.

  9. “It also allows the new cast members to blaze their own trail while escaping the shadows left by the original team.”

    How exactly? all anyone I know is talking about is which chick is supposed to be which original Ghostbuster?

    “Movie fans are already upset that one of the four new characters isn’t a scientist according to the film’s first trailer”

    No, they are upset that the one non scientist is the one minority cast member. What, the sassy black chick couldn’t have been a physicist?

    Everything I’ve seen so far makes this look like a parody of the original film. Not really interested.

    1. I think they would have done better to cast a small woman with an irritating voice as The Black Character, someone built like Butterfly McQueen. Instead, they chose a woman who is built more like Hatty McDaniel. I don’t know about others, but I’m tired of movies that stereotype all black people as large, noisy, and more violent than everyone else around them. And I think they could have gotten more laughs casting the small woman with glasses as a tyrannical boss or human resources manager constantly threatening and bullying all the larger women and threatening to withdraw their funding. I don’t know whether the actresses were given any chance at all to improvise or build out their characters, but if not maybe they should shoot a few outtakes where they do just that, then incorporate the better ones into the film for flavor. A cameo with Tracy Morgan would also be a value enhancer, given the number of Saturday Night Live alumnae.

  10. Anyone want to back my all-White remake of “Waiting to Exhale?” It’s called “Don’t Hold Your Breath.”

  11. “, If it fails, women in Hollywood will be hardest Hit”
    .
    Sorry, but we’re not talking about a movie here, we’re talking about political correctness, and PC is always a “win-win” for its enforcers. If the movie is a hit, the narrative will be “girl power defeats patriarchy, now give us moar girl power movies”. If it flops the narrative will be “sexism beats girl power, exposes need for moar girl power movies”

    1. doesn’t matter if the actresses suck balls or if the rewritten script is even worse. All that matters is that it’s Politically Correct…and for that reason alone, I won’t spend my hard earned dollars on shyte.

  12. So would it have been better if they had cast Betty White as Harold Ramis’s widow and one of the younger actresses as his daughter? It would have been nice to memorialize him in some way beyond a passing reference or two.

      1. Very few movies that are heavily influenced by Lovecraft do well. He was a master of written horror, but his style actually does not translate well to movies. Or at least few directors understand what it is that made his horror work, and it was not the monsters.

  13. The lack of minority women as scientists is a direct reflection of the Bush Administration’s policies of hate against women and minorities. They especially want to keep minority women down. The Republican-controlled Cogress is happily continuing Bush’s policies of hate. Hillary will change this after she is elected as she is a tireless champion of women,

    1. I wonder what would happen if a major motion picture featured a conservative Republican scientist as its hero. The liberal head-exploding all over the Internet would be at least as entertaining as the movie itself.

  14. The original had some of the best comic actor/writers of the last century.

    They were willing to fund AND distribute Bill Murrays otherwise unsellable “The Razor’s Edge” to get him to LOWER himself to do it.

    When somebody said “Remake of the ‘Ghostbusters’ with female cast” I thought:

    Hmmm; Rosanne Barr, Rosie O’Donnel, Jill Richardson, WHoopie Goldberg……

    But, just like in politics, the politically correct have no respect for anything established. The ‘money’ says “Kewel! We don’t need those expensive STARS, we’ll buy some CGI and sucker the rubes for CHEAP!”

    I felt so sad for the Black Actress who, I’m sure, really, really needed a paycheck. (Hopefully big enough to kill the pain) And I’m so politically incorrect I consider my self a happy Social INjustice Warrior.

    1. You actually thought Roseanne, Rosie, and Whoopie? Do you know what their box office track record this century is? And who is Jill Richardson? Do you mean Patricia Richardson who played Tim Allen’s wife on his show 20 years ago? The producers would only have hired them if they really were looking to save money.

      This movie may turn out to be as bad as the trailer, but whatever problems it may have, casting isn’t one of them.

  15. When Melissa McCarthy isn’t allowed to be the brash Melissa McCarthy, the movie fails (think the road trip movies with Susan Sarandon and Jason Bateman). It looks like Ghostbusters is using that Melissa instead of Bridesmaids, Heat, and Spy Melissa.

  16. Women of the past were funny because of their personality, now women have to be funny because they are women, it is not going to work.

  17. I hate these people. Political correctness and victim class feminists can choke to death on their putrid self righteousness. Screw this move, screw you if you think having a vag makes you special, screw you if you take offense.

  18. Imagine what would happen if a movie made its hero a conservative Republican scientist. The same people who think a silly fantasy comedy has as some sort of social obligation to make its main black female character a scientist under the assumption that it will some how increase their representation in the real world would be aghast, saying that it’s impossible because they don’t exist in real life.

  19. Thank you for the excellent review. It’s fine if ladies wish to turn a silly movie into a serious message about inclusion and diversity. I challenge ladies to write their own movie in the future and stop stealing from men. By the way, ghosts are real and need our attention and few have the courage to pause and find out what they need: to pay off a debt. Duh.

  20. I won’t watch this. By “rebooting” a fantastic movie…and then scripting 2nd rate actresses, they’ve ruined it. Won’t be worth paying $$$ to go see. You can tell that Hollywood has run out of script ideas when they go FULL PC and destroy a great movie…

  21. It’s funny/sad how the cartoon show Archer is the only example today I can think of with a strong, sexy, smart black woman that holds her own. And she’s a cartoon. With big hands.

  22. It’s got Kristen Wiig in it. It’s going to suck. When are people going to learn not to let that woman stink up their TV and film projects? And who does she have dirt on that she keeps getting roles?

  23. Well—at least with Leslie Jones it’s guaranteed an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination at next year’s Oscars.

  24. I can’t think of anything more misogynist than the idea that the only way for women to succeed is to steal a “name” from something previously created by men. It’s not as if they can actually make something *original*, after all, or so goes the theory. Unfortunately, the SJ zeitgeist seems to be that anything that supplants an “enemy” (ie, replacing white with anyone else; replacing male with female) is a “victory”.

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