‘Ghostbusters’ Director Paul Feig Says the Sexist Backlash Has Been ‘Chilling’
It’s hard to believe that the great pop culture wars are being waged over something like female Ghostbusters, but here we are. In the year 2016, we’ve seen backlash over casting Idris Elba as the Gunslinger in The Dark Tower, accusations that critics were paid by Marvel to diss Batman v Superman, and, perhaps worst of all, outrage at Paul Feig for making a new Ghostbusters movie with women in the lead roles. You don’t have to look very far to find heinous comments about the reboot on the internet, but as you might imagine, Feig has seen some of the worst of it.
While speaking at yesterday’s Produced By conference at the Sony lot (via The Wrap), Feig spoke about his experiences making female-driven films, specifically recalling an incident pre-Bridesmaids when an unnamed producer warned him that working with women would result in “catfights.” The director says it was “the most wonderful experience” of his life to respond with “Who the f— are you?”
Since then, he has directed four female-fronted comedies, including the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, which stars Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and frequent Feig collaborator Melissa McCarthy. Reactions to the reboot have been exceptionally negative, with many fans of the 1984 classic expressing outrage at a new Ghostbusters that doesn’t star the original cast (though they do make cameo appearances).
A large amount of fans claim to be against the reboot because they don’t think the trailers are funny or because they’re anti-reboot in general, but it’s no coincidence that this particular film has inspired so much blatant outrage. Feig says that people continue to refer to his Ghostbusters as a “chick flick,” and that they are “struggling every day to go against that bias.”
As for the proliferation of negative comments on the internet, Feig has had to deal with more than his fair share. The director says, “I have been hit with the most misogynistic stuff,” adding, “The onslaught that came in was just so chilling.” Beyond the sexist backlash, others have called Feig out for casting SNL favorite Leslie Jones as an MTA worker, a role that some feel is reductive and racist given that her co-stars portray members of the scientific community and academics.
Even though he’s made four female-centric films and worked to hire more women behind the scenes, Feig concedes that the diversity in his casting “has not been as good and I take responsibility for that.” As he’s explained before, Feig originally wrote Jones’ role for McCarthy, but ultimately felt it was too similar to the brash roles she’s played before, so he went with Jones because “Leslie is so funny at playing this kind of a character.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Ghostbusters hate is dying down anytime soon, but Feig’s reboot will have a chance to speak for itself on July 15.