It's been a long slog through controversy on the road to glory for Ghostbusters' director Paul Feig. While he has not been the only one involved in backlash surrounding the classic film's reboot, he's often found himself in the (unnecessarily) hot seat when it comes to defending his choice to use an all-female cast. Now, Feig is once again defending his triumphant, feminist Ghostbusters reboot, after a woman on Twitter celebrated young girls dressing up as the characters for Halloween and received an onslaught of internet hate. During a phone interview with Bustle, Feig shares how to find the long-lasting, silver-lined effect of Ghostbusters, and why it's such a joy to see a new generation embracing his feminist vision for this film.
A little background first: On Oct. 31, Twitter user Mel Gabor invoked the common argument that naysayers have used since the Ghostbusters reboot was first announced. By asking older audience members whether their childhoods were still ruined, Gabor ostensibly attempted to negate the idea that the film actually had any detrimental effects. She posted pictures of young girls clad in their Ghostbusters gear, sporting mean mugs, goggles, and proton packs. Gabor tagged Feig in her photo-filled tweet, and from there, the director was drawn into the reinvigorated glory and controversy that has followed him for years now.
Feig's first reaction when he saw the tweet? "I was thrilled. This has been my experience the entire time with the film — even from when I was in production — of getting pictures of young girls and women putting on the orange stripes and dressing up like [the women of Ghostbusters]," he says. "People were so happy that the Ghostbusters existed and that they’re women and that they’re these empowered characters with heart and [that] are strong."
Noting that seeing a new generation of young women dressing up as Ghostbusters for Halloween was a sort of validation, he continues, "That was that moment when you go, 'Oh wow, this isn't just me noticing this. This is other people seeing this.'" Feig elaborates further, "Look, it’s the greatest validation in the world you can get, especially after two years of getting hammered by the loud, invisible voices of the internet, who do not, by any means, speak for the majority or even a big part of a minority group."
And while it's a total relief for Feig to be able to share in this delightful Halloween costume trend, he certainly hadn't expected that it would happen in such full force. Naturally, this led to him feeling overwhelmingly happy, and despite the constant brouhaha of misogyny that has plagued Ghostbusters, this turn of events allowed Feig to breathe a little easier. He says,
"I was definitely hoping it would happen, but I wasn't expecting it. I was very much hoping that that would happen, because it means you’ve struck a chord. You always dress like people that you want to be, in general, or things you want to experiment with, you know? These women found this kind of power in dressing up as these characters that are not very sexualized, and are fun and empowered and strong."
He adds that he was surprised by just how many people dressed up as the characters from the blockbuster. But for all the excitement that was elicited from the Halloween photos and testimonies, he admits that the backlash has become tiresome. While he readily dons the armor to defend his work, he's very ready to push onward and upward. It's not entirely unimaginable, considering this has been happening for years.
In light of the ongoing backlash, Feig has some pretty clever words for those who are still lashing out:
"There’s no downside to this movie having been made, other than whatever hurts and angst people bring to it, because they’re upset we touched the classic film. I understand the fear of [the film existing], but my god, people, it exists now. We’re still getting hammered. ... I’m fed up to my ears with it now... At some point, you've gotta go, 'OK, gang, deal with this.' You've got to go to therapy if you still can't deal with the fact that this movie exists. You've got to find a new battle to fight."
Feig puts it aptly, I must admit. Gabor's tweet was a celebration of a younger generation reveling in their own pop culture. Young girls were finally able to claim an action movie for themselves. They were able to choose to be a Ghostbuster, and like Feig says, it's hard to not feel warm with delight when seeing that.