Sitting in a near-empty theatre on opening night of feminist Ghostbusters, I should have predicted the upset victory of Donald Trump.
I watched as working-class whites in the audience shuddered at the destruction of their childhoods, the erasure of their once-beloved ’80s classic. I saw a young man walk into that theater, wide eyed and full of optimism, only to exit wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat while furiously tweeting anti-feminist memes at Melissa McCarthy.
It’s pretty obvious the sub-par quality of the Ghostbusters remake had a direct impact on the 2016 election especially in the Rust Belt where Bill Murray fans are at their highest concentration. No doubt watching Murray humiliate himself in tired, hokey scenes as a cameo (not his original 1984 character Peter Venkman) convinced many in Wisconsin and Michigan to eschew the feminist values of the Democratic Party.
I mean, come on! What did director Paul Feig think would happen? In the original, Murray played a man who captured ghosts for a living. In the 2016 reboot he played a man who was skeptical ghosts even exist! When up is down and down is up, of course you arrive at Donald Trump.
And just because Kate McKinnon did that mopey/uplifting Hallelujah cold open on SNL, doesn’t clean the blood is off her hands. She’s just as blameworthy as Feig. She was supposed to be the Egon Spangler character, the nerdy straight man. Instead she was just as goofy and spontaneous as the rest of the cast. You need at least one straight man (woman). It’s comedy 101. And Donald Trump was able to capitalize on this weakness.
Ghostbusters (2016) was not just a movie—it was one battle in a larger war. On one side you had Gamergate, the alt right, other unaffiliated Internet trolls and, of course, Donald J. Trump. And on the side of light was every woman who ever existed. The battle could have been won handily if only the script was a little tighter and the special effects didn’t look like a crappy knockoff of Eddie Murphy’s Haunted Mansion.
Even the timing of the film was perfect. It was released in theaters exactly one week before the Republican convention. A blockbuster premiere would have sucked the momentum from the convention and even have tripped up Trump on his closing speech. Duh.
But instead of standing up to Trump with a strong third act that left audiences of all ages wanting more, the film languished and now Donald Trump is president.
There is always still hope. Despite no studio backing, Feig still wants to make a Ghostbusters sequel. If he can get it out by 2020 with a better script and a more inclusive feminist message, it might be the only way to block Trump’s second term.