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Jason Reitman Clarifies Controversial Ghostbusters Comment

Like Peter Venkman was "fuzzy on the whole good-bad thing," so too is Jason Reitman, who has had to do some damage control after making a controversial comment about his upcoming Ghostbusters movie.

The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker behind JunoThank You for Smoking, and Up in the Air, Reitman is currently toiling away on a new Ghostbusters film set to be a continuation of the original from 1984, which his own father, Ivan Reitman, directed. Reitman announced plans for his Ghostbusters in mid-January, when he detailed that the flick is "the next chapter in the original franchise," is 100 percent "not a reboot," and will play out as though the Paul Feig-directed, all-female Ghostbusters refresh from 2016 never happened. 

Recently, Reitman stated during an episode of the Bill Burr Podcast that he plans to do everything in his power to channel the look and feel of the OG Ghostbusters movie when creating the new franchise entry, which will serve as a "love letter to Ghostbusters" and appeal to Ghostbusters enthusiasts like him. He noted, "We are, in every way, trying to go back to the original technique and hand the movie back to the fans."

That comment ignited fury — with many taking it as an insult toward the 2016 Ghostbusters film that starred Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy, and interpreting his remarks as an implication that Ghostbusters fans had something taken away from them with the female-centric reboot. 

Reitman took to Twitter on Wednesday night to clarify his remarks and affirm that he respects the Feig-helmed Ghostbusters film, the women who starred in it, and the contributions the entire creative team made to the overall movie series. 

"Wo, that came out wrong," he tweeted. "I have nothing but admiration for Paul and Leslie and Kate and Melissa and Kristen and the bravery with which they made Ghostbusters 2016. They expanded the universe and made an amazing movie!"

The controversy stirred up after The Playlist published an article under a headline that included Reitman's statement that his Ghostbusters will "hand the movie back to the fans." That portion of his Ghostbusters-related remarks to comedian Bill Burr in the midst of his interview isn't great in or out of context, as it seems to suggest that someone (read: him) needs to take the franchise away from women and return it to men — at least, that's what the vast majority of people on social media gleaned from Reitman's words. 

Examining his comments further, it appears that Reitman was speaking not so much about the type of actors he feels should serve as the face of Ghostbusters or the kind of stories the franchise should tell but rather about the way the films look, feel, and sound in regards to visual effects and music. 

Reitman noted during his chat with Burr that he put a ton of thought into creating the tiny teaser for his Ghostbusters film, ensuring it captured the mood of the '80s flick, and aims to continue doing just that with the entire movie.

"We went back to the work files for the sound of the proton pack. And we went back to the stems of Elmer Berstein's score. Just for where it says, in the teaser, 'Summer 2020,' we went back and found the original physical vinyl letters they used to create the Ghostbusters poster in 1984, rescanned them. Then our title guys reprinted them. We filmed the titles, not like in a computer. We shot physical titles with a light and smoke effect because that's how they would have done it back in the day," said Reitman, who immediately thereafter uttered the line about bringing the franchise back to a place where fans will be satisfied.

Still, even if Reitman genuinely didn't mean any harm in saying that he's handing Ghostbusters back to the fans and is making a movie targeted toward franchise loyals just like himself, his language was awkward and easily holds a double meaning — one far more insidious than the other. 

Had millions of long-time Ghostbusters fans not bashed the reboot from three years ago as a sacrilegious "anti-man" piece of media that was only made to "serve an agenda-pushing Hollywood," a "blatant and unapologetic hijacking of the franchise by feminists," and a "feminazi takeover" of Ghostbusters, Reitman's words probably would have come across exactly as he apparently intended them to. But we don't live in that world — we live in one where all those unsavory things really were said about the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot. And that's why so many pushed back against what Reitman stated, as it seemed to feed into the vitriol fans spewed in the past. 

Freelance journalist and editor Alicia Lutes, formerly of Nerdist, brought up this point when responding to Reitman's comments. "Hi @JasonReitman! Can we have a chat about this little comment you made? Because let me tell you, hoo golly, does it not only completely disregard female fans of #Ghostbusters, it actively supports the behaviors of the festering open wounds known as Men Online," she tweeted. 

Lutes later added in follow-up tweets, "Did you...ever actually read what people were saying? Did you actually dig into the history of abuse so many of these fanatically, irrationally angry men were throwing at women SIMPLY FOR BEING OKAY WITH SOMETHING EXISTING?? I'm serious, @JasonReitman. The abuse was insane ... You want to support the men who harassed countless women for being excited about THE MERE PROSPECT of funny women fighting F***ING GHOSTS? We just wanted some popcorn fun and your frothing mob of 'Real Fans' felt that was an egregious error against... the sanctity of ghostmurder?"

She then noted that Reitman's statements serve to "prop up" male fans' "expectation to dictate all narratives," including the one that argues females shouldn't be a part of the Ghostbusters franchise. 

New York Times television critic James Poniewozik also weighed in on Reitman's statements, tweeting, "1) This is gross 2) I will never understand why — besides the culture-war angle — anyone was so invested in the sanctity of the original. It was freaking *Ghostbusters,* not the Sistine Chapel ceiling! It was... fine! The remake was... fine! 3) This is gross." 

He continued, adding that there are far more pressing matters to be concerned with than who counts as a true Ghostbusters fan, what qualifies as a legitimate franchise entry, and how important it is that the new Ghostbusters be closely aligned with the original. Poniewozik also argued that those who claim their childhoods were ruined by the Ghostbusters reboot should have a discussion with the people who raised them. 

"If your childhood was 'ruined' by ANYTHING having to do with Ghostbusters, you really need to take that up with whoever was responsible for ensuring you a well-adjusted childhood," tweeted Poniewozik. "Seeing replies explaining why 'the fans' didn't like Ghostbusters 2016. OK... so does someone who *liked* it not count as a 'fan'? That's one noxious thing about this language — the policing of who does and doesn't qualify as a TRUE fan. Liked the remake? I EXCOMMUNICATE THEE!"

Sci-fi author John Scalzi questioned whether the "fans" Reitman wants to hand Ghostbusters back to are the same ones who freaked out "because the previous Ghostbusters movie because it had women in it." In a tweet, Scalzi said, "I'm not gonna lie, I don't want to see the movie that caters to that sort of dimwitted chucklef***."

If this situation has taught us anything, it's that Reitman walks a fine line between pleasing the fans who slammed Feig's female-led film by potentially catering to their desires, and setting them off by not denouncing it in the same manner they had. While he did state that he wants to do all he can to return the franchise to fans of the original, Reitman also has love for the reboot, having previously told Entertainment Weekly, "I have so much respect for what Paul created with those brilliant actresses, and would love to see more stories from them. However, this new movie will follow the trajectory of the original film." 

It's evident that simply isn't going to fly with some fans, who took offense when Reitman clarified that his words "came out wrong" and that he meant no ill will. Some were disappointed that he would say such a thing, as they believe Reitman's apology spells trouble for the new Ghostbusters. "Bending the knee to faux outrage this early is NOT a good sign for the film. Come on Jason," one fan wrote. Another agreed, "Rule #1 never apologize or bend the knee to SJW's, it's simply not good enough for them."

Hopefully, controversy will soon die down and Reitman can focus on making the new Ghostbusters exactly what he wants it to be — whether that's an installment all Ghostbusters fans will love, or an entry that only the anti-reboot enthusiasts will enjoy. 

Reitman's Ghostbusters movie is scheduled for release on July 10, 2020.