Paul Feig, director of 2016’s female-led Ghostbusters reboot, says the movie was caught in the same misogynistic “vortex” as then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I have been dying for somebody to look at Hillary Clinton’s campaign and us, because we were caught in the exact same vortex,” Feig told The Telegraph when speaking about new Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively mystery-thriller A Simple Favor.
“It was shocking. I still think about it a lot, honestly — sometimes I’m like, ‘OK, stop thinking about it.’ Because I’m really proud of the movie, and while people still send me mean things, overwhelmingly more people tell me they love it.”
Feig said the film has since inspired young women to enter into scientific fields, most pointing to nuclear engineer specialist and inventor Jillian Holtzmann, played by Saturday Night Live standout Kate McKinnon.
“Parents and their children, women in their 20s and 30s who were inspired to go into science, or are in love with Kate McKinnon,” he said. “But I definitely felt like we were the icebreaker going through the Arctic. People weren’t yet used to the idea that this could happen.”
The director, who waged a real-life battle on online trolls who harassed both himself and his cast before and after production on the controversial re-imagining, separates Ghostbusters fans, a.k.a. Ghostheads — “the ones who have clubs where they dress up, do all this charity work, the most amazing people” — from those who lashed out at the reboot with venomous misogyny.
“It ignited these passions that were already around because Trump was stirring them up,” Feig said. “I think these guys felt they were losing control.”
Its villain — Rowan (Neil Casey), a perennially-bullied bellhop-turned-occultist who sought to bring about an apocalypse as result of his seething hatred for all of humanity — was viewed by some as an in-universe take on the real-life vitriol-spewing type of troll, but Feig said the character was always envisioned as a God’s Lonely Man type “because that’s always the most dangerous guy in the world.”
Feig believes the Clinton-versus-Trump match and Trump’s eventual ascendancy to the presidency helped push along the fall of ousted Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and ushered in the #MeToo movement, which sees women stand up and speak out against sexual harassment and assault in the movie-making industry.
“Because the misogyny out there was in everybody’s face,” he said. “It was this boiling cauldron of so many contributing factors that made women go ‘Enough,’ thank God.”
Ghostbusters scared up a mixed-to-positive response from critics and a tepid response from audiences, pulling in just $229 million worldwide on a $144 million-plus budget — likely dashing Feig’s hopes for a sequel. He said previously the movie was hampered by it taking on a second life as “a cause,” saying the movie “was only supposed to be there to entertain people.”