August, 2014: Ghostbusters is reported by film industry gossip site Deadline as a full-on reboot of the series (such as it was), starring women, directed by Paul Feig. Its existence is immediately spun as an attack on men and their precious nostalgia by Deadline editor Mike Fleming Jr. in an article entitled “Film Chauvinist Asks: Do We Want an Estrogen-Powered Ghostbusters?” This article ends up not only setting the narrative for the film's reception before the film's script is even finished, but becomes more or less the primordial think piece ooze from which most anti-Ghostbusters rhetoric is spawned.
January, 2015: The cast of the film is announced to mixed results. Some are happy to see the Bridesmaids reunion between Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Others are unhappy to see McCarthy (whose abilities as a comedic actor are frequently, and dismissively, reduced to her size and propensity for pratfalls). A lot of people are confused as to who Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones even are.
June, 2015: Photos of the cast and their ghostbusting gear are leaked and then officially released. This might be the most positively received aspect of the film thus far, despite one particular fan attaining brief Twitter infamy for building a replica proton pack, then setting it on fire and tweeting it at director Paul Feig. That shaky optimism lasts for about a month, when...
August, 2015: The cast visits a children's hospital, which somehow becomes a controversy as to whether the production is cynically exploiting sick youth as a means for positive press, even after it was revealed the children themselves asked for the stars to visit (via signs in their hospital windows), and the production obliged.
September, 2015: Feig, whose public response to the film's negative reaction had been limited to playfully tweeted one-liners, finally succumbs to the mounting frustration at being consistently attacked by “Ghostbros,” and responds directly to a large number of the critics and concern trolls.
This comprises roughly the first year of the film's life in public. Being as there was little to no promotional material to speak of, and what was officially known about the film was fairly detail-free from a story perspective, it was pretty easy to discern between three groups of people: Those who were iffy on the idea based on its merits, those who wanted to see if it could work due to the track records of Feig, McCarthy, and Wiig, and your misogynists unhappy that an '80s movie about sketch comedians shooting lasers at ghosts was being unfairly “turned into a feminist gimmick to appease Social Justice Warriors.” But then...
March, 2016: The first teaser trailer is released and is not funny at all. The film appears gaudy and dumb, and most aspects of the trailer (because in the 21st Century, the reception of a trailer is almost more important than the quality of the film it comes from) are considered to be pretty weak, save for the snippets of remixed Ray Parker Jr. popping up amid the loud booms.
One of the bigger negative reactions concerns Leslie Jones' role, leading to people tweeting their disappointment in the racial makeup of the team directly at her, enough that she feels it necessary to respond directly, and even briefly considers leaving the platform before deciding to stick it out.
The poor quality of the first teaser doesn't just dampen anticipation for the film, it becomes a legitimate smokescreen for the misogynists to hide behind, as people begin to predictably make their voices heard as to why “Hollywood can't just come up with new ideas and leave well enough alone,” and the uglier side of the Ghostbusters fandom hitches a ride on the caboose of that train.
April, 2016: The teaser becomes the most disliked movie advertisement of all time on YouTube, causing many in the entertainment and fan press to write essays trying to pin down the reasoning behind the thumbs-down phenomenon.
May, 2016: The promotional engine begins revving up properly with posters, short character videos, and another trailer (in US and International varieties). The quality of these efforts are better than the first look at the film, but the Ghostbros campaign has become its own weird little attention engine. The conversation about the film is almost solely confined to a single back and forth, best exemplified by this rhetorical: "Oh, so I can't criticize Ghostbusters unless I'm a misogynist, huh?" As if to answer this question...
YouTube celebrity James Rolfe, best known as “The Angry Video Game Nerd,” a character famous for profane, beer-soaked reviews of retro games, posts a video about how he's not going to watch the movie, giving a measured and pleasantly delivered list of reasons tied mostly to his wounded sense of nostalgia. The response to this spawns a new set of think pieces, focused mostly on the twin concepts of "fan entitlement" and "subconscious sexism." Rolfe has, whether it was his intention or not, volunteered to be the face of the Ghostbro phenomenon, with Ghostbusters—once primarily remembered as an eminently quotable sci-fi/comedy—now occupying a very strange space in popular culture as a trigger for insecure men of a certain age and temperament, who tend to counter accusations of misogyny with claims that the truly maligned parties here are not women in general, or even the specific women starring in this reboot, but long-time Ghostbusters fans being unfairly and automatically tarred as sexists on social media for daring to defend the sanctity of the Ghostbusters legacy—which, friendly reminder, consists primarily of one poorly received sequel, a Saturday morning cartoon, and a delicious boxed fruit drink by Hi-C (which is back now and apparently still tasty).
July, 2016: The film begins screening for critics, both the kind that are actually paid by media outlets to write reviews, and the amateur kind who don't feel it necessary to actually watch a movie first before passing judgment on its quality. The latter group appears to consist primarily of men, some of whom are invoking the name of Egon Spengler himself, writer/director Harold Ramis, in their righteous anger at the reboot's existence (and apparent success as a comedy), prompting Ramis' daughter to respond: “Stop using my dad as an excuse to hate the new Ghostbusters.”
Thursday, 7pm, July 14: The film opens nationally. You are here.