In 2016, Ghostbusters became an unexpectedly touchy subject on the internet, with Paul Feig’s female-led flick becoming the focus of a wave of backlash months before it had even reached cinemas. Today, it’s a film that’s referenced far more for the storm of online rage around it than its actual content, with the movie’s first trailer in particular being the target of a sea of sexist and racist comments, as well as a lot of nostalgic viewers who were just mad to see another Hollywood reboot.
In a recent interview, star Melissa McCarthy reflected on this heated response and offered up the following:
“Kind of jarring that in this day and age, that that is something that someone…like, if you said, ‘You ruined my childhood,’ I remember that was a thing, which I thought, ‘I’m pretty sure you’ve got a weird childhood. If a movie, 35 years later, is ruining your childhood, don’t blame us, you’ve got your own issues,'” the actress shared with Yahoo!. “I just don’t know why people are so afraid of women. It’s fascinating to me. And I don’t know how to explain it, other than, as the mom of two daughters, I just always say, ‘There you go. Be you. Don’t back down.'”
The Ghostbusters backlash remains an oft-referenced chapter in recent pop culture history. Sandra Bullock, for instance, shared her thoughts on the phenomenon just earlier this year after the female-led Ocean’s 8 hit theaters, describing the reaction as “unfair on a level that I can’t even not be mad about talking about.” The fan rage provoked by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, meanwhile, has invited many comparisons to the Ghostbusters response, with the film serving as another case of female leads being the subject of online harassment.
But beyond its incensed pre-release reception, Feig’s feature ultimately didn’t make much of a splash, opening in cinemas to moderately good reviews but failing to make enough money to warrant a sequel. Should the opportunity ever arise for another installment, however, the director would clearly be game, telling Yahoo! earlier this year:
“We would love to; it’s really up to the studio to want to do it. We had so much fun making that movie. The movie’s just really built an audience in the two years since it’s been out. I get contacted every day by people who are such fans of it, and so many women who are inspired by seeing women in science. I will go to my grave so proud of that movie, and so proud of what that cast did in that film.”
Feig can stay hopeful about getting another Ghostbusters if he wants, but when the only thing people remember about a movie is that it was hated by a lot of people who never saw it, the momentum probably isn’t there for a follow-up.