Rarely am I ever interested in following internet pissing contests – especially when they revolve around identity politics and pop culture phenomena that will be forgotten almost immediately – so I paid very little attention when the brief hysteria erupted in 2014/2015 about remaking Ghostbusters with a female cast. It seemed plausible from afar (having seen the trailers and read no more than a few articles about it) that the strong backlash against the movie might have been explained by the fact that it looked like garbage, a cynical cash grab even among the dozens of other nostalgia mining projects of recent years. Maybe the outrage among people who care about such things wasn't a result of the decision to go with a female cast.
Then I thought about all of the other cynical, shitty remakes, reboots, and soulless franchise products that have been churned out over the years without any similar reactions. If these fans / critics really were upset because the movie looked like it would suck, then the reaction to Ghostbusters 2016 would not have stood out as exceptional. So, it seems impossible that a demographic of teenage boys and adult losers that line up gladly to pay to see the 25th reboot of Spider-man or some other obviously idiotic comic book-turned-movie could really be so upset about the perceived poor quality of Ghostbusters. It's pretty obvious they were just really pissed off that they made the characters women.
The movie did well at the box office despite the negative pre-release publicity, so here we go: "Replace male character with female" is going to be the next gimmick, starting with (yet another) remake. The mediocre 1991 live-action Disney film The Rocketeer is getting remade – in itself a good sign of how the bottom of the barrel is being scraped for source material – with a female lead. As if that makes the concept of making the same movie a second time somehow fresh or interesting.
I had no intention of seeing Ghostbusters not because the cast was female, but because almost nothing in the landfill of sequels, comic / video game adaptations, reboots, remakes, and other recycled ideas interests me. If I have a hankering to see Ghostbusters I'm sure I could find a way to watch the real one. Ditto The Rocketeer. Ditto every other idea currently in the process of being turned upside down and shaken until no more money will fall out. I find changing characters from male to female irritating not because I don't want to see women playing the roles, but because I don't want to see anyone playing the same goddamn roles over and over again. And replacing the (describe original character) with (some kind of person not identical to the original) is the kind of cheap, lazy thinking ("Wow, a female Rocketeer? What a twist! When can you start?") that passes for creativity these days. It's the kind of thing dumb people think is clever. You could remake Patton with RuPaul in the title role and you're still remaking Patton. Only so much can be done to cover the stale odor of making a movie that has already been made.