The movie isn’t out for another month, but so far the real opposition for the all-new “Ghostbusters” hasn’t been supernatural apparitions haunting from the Beyond — it’s been a shrill clutch of vocal skeptics leery of a re-interpretation of the 1984 classic, with troubling views on gender.
No one has heard these voices more than director Paul Feig, who now says that some of the earliest negative feedback he got on this project — and others in which women got top billing — came from behind-the-scenes executives and filmmakers around Hollywood, who expressed deeply regressive views about what working with women entailed.
Speaking this weekend at Sony’s Produced By Conference, Feig, who also directed “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” described an interaction he’d had with an unnamed executive while preparing to film one of his female-driven ensemble comedies. “I had some male producer say, ‘Oh boy, get ready. It’s going to be tough, you’re going to have catfights,'” he explained, as if the genders of egos affect their scale or manageability. “I said, ‘Who the **** are you?’ It was the most wonderful experience,” he went on to joke, according to the Wrap.
Feig said he believes part of Hollywood’s problem is that the industry is so dominated by males in power that their perspective is over-represented in the product, regaling women to supporting roles like wives and mothers.
“We are struggling every day to go against that bias,” Feig explained. “We still get called in the press as a ‘chick flick.’ We are always referred to as ‘the all-female “Ghostbusters,'”” he lamented.
The director did admit a desire to scrutinize and improve his own record with regards to racial diversity, and the part of SNL veteran Jones has come under some fire. “I feel bad that many have taken a bad look at Leslie Jones’s character,” he said. “We originally wrote it for Melissa [McCarthy], and then when we were putting it together, we figured Melissa had played a role like that before. Leslie is so funny at playing this kind of a character that we put her in there. I am the first to admit, while I am a fighter for women, my record for diversity has not been as good and I take responsibility for that.”
Saying he had been confronted by “the most misogynistic stuff,” he called the outcry over the Ghostbusters that were being represented in the new film both “chilling” and an “onslaught.”
“It’s just an uphill battle and I can’t believe we are having to deal with it.”
Starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon, “Ghostbusters” opens July 15.
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