Bad publicity is supposed to be good publicity, especially when the product you’re trying to get people to look into is a summer blockbuster film. But, too much bad publicity may be a negative, especially when the product you’re trying to get people to look into is a summer blockbuster film.
The most controversial film since Seth Rogen’s The Interview, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot — or, as it’s officially known, Ghostbusters 2016— has come under fire since the first we heard about it for nearly everything in the book. The main ones include:
- A trailer that bombed among YouTube viewers.
- The forced empowerment of women from people who called others “misogynists” or “sexists” for not liking the movie.
- A racial stereotype in the character of Patty, which Polygon went in-depth about earlier this year.
- Shady marketing tactics by Sony, including the deleting of comments on the initial trailer. Mike Stoklasa, who plays the popular film critic character Harry S. Plinkett for the RedLetterMedia YouTube channel, explained this in a recent video with Rich Evans and Jay Bauman.
- Feig fighting fans on Twitter and actively cursing them out, as USA Today‘s Hoai-Tran Bui wrote in September 2015.
When the movie actually released last month, the initial response from critics was better than expected as many gave it an average score and praised the acting of Leslie Jones (Patty). Plenty of fans were still angry about the decision to reboot the series or the forced empowerment, but the not-so-negative critical reception seemed like a good sign.
As the dust clears now, though, things are nothing but bad for the new Ghostbusters and any hopes of making Melissa McCarthy and friends the new gang to watch for years. Hollywood Reporter reported on Wednesday that Ghostbusters 2016 is set to limp away with over a projected loss of over $70 million. That is near impossible, especially in an era when reboots and remakes nearly break even within the first 24 hours.
Now, let’s take a step back and head on over to Twitter. Few internet personalities seem to be outspoken on Twitter as Bardock Obama, who goes by @TheBardockObama on the app and currently has over 163,000 followers; he’s attained this number through the postings of various memes and a penchant for saying things others don’t want to, two things that make for great Twitter entertainment. For months now, Obama has been an outspoken fan of the Ghostbusters movie not because it stars four women or because it empowers females, but because he just doesn’t like the movie and saw no need for Sony to reboot a classic film from the 1980s.
So, when news began to circulate on Wednesday that there likely was not going to be a sequel to the disappointing effort from Feig, Bardock took to his internet kingdom to celebrate.
After not liking the movie, as many others didn’t, Obama had every reason to celebrate. Many recent movie sequels have proven to be worse than the originals — or, in the case of a good movie, not live up to the expectations put in place — so with Ghostbusters 2016 having flopped so miserably, how much worse could a second one be?
But, with large fame on the internet comes the higher chances of important people finding your tweet. Shortly after the tweet was posted, Obama looked in his notifications to see that Feig, who has gotten into plenty of viral wars before, had retweeted the post on his own verified account.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem like a big deal as plenty of celebrities retweet or promote negative thoughts sent their way. After a tough performance, athletes will retweet death threats full of racial slurs and if an interview doesn’t go well, movie stars get called names they’d never even heard of. As harsh as it is to say, it comes with the territory of being on the internet.
But, here’s where things turn bad. Feig’s retweeting of the post meant that many of his followers, those who believe not liking the movie means you hate women, now found a new target they could send death threats to. Again, as harsh as it may sound, it comes with the territory and Obama — a popular personality since at least 2012 — knows that.
What Obama didn’t know, though, was that Twitter was going to get involved.
Because someone with “power on the internet” had disliked a movie just as many others had, Feig took the war to Obama by not only sending fans full of death threat his way but potentially trying to get the account suspended. This isn’t a case of someone sending Feig death threats or threatening to rape his wife; this is someone not liking a movie, which is fine.
In a Direct Message exchange on Twitter, Obama gave the following statement.
“All I did was tweet my joy of a Ghostbusters sequel possibly being canned. Somehow the director found the tweet and retweeted it inciting fans to harass me. I’m used to arguing with people here but it’s hypocritical that I never once mentioned him prior, sent my fans to harass him, or anything and he gets away with it. It’s bulls—. For some reason I had to log out, was told that I had to delete the tweet or face a 72 hour account lock. This isn’t the first time I’ve been suspended; I was suspended around two weeks ago for tweeting a Ghostbusters joke about it flopping like the Pokemon Magikarp. I gained access to my account immediately though.”
At the time of this article’s publishing, a request was sent to Feig’s camp to discuss the subject but was not returned. If Feig or a representative comments, this post will be updated.
While we live in a time of political correctness, that doesn’t mean people aren’t entitled to their opinions about movies. If Bardock didn’t like the fart jokes in Ghostbusters or thought Melissa McCarthy’s acting was stale, he — and anyone else — is entitled to that opinion as long as he does the following things:
- Expresses the opinions in a respectful way.
- Does not condemn or attack others for disagreeing.
- Is potentially willing to discuss and back up his arguments.
Opinions, even now, are something that everyone has and we just need to accept that. Obviously, had Obama made a legitimate threat to Feig or wrote something horrifically offensive about Melissa McCarthy’s appearance, this is potentially a different discussion, but celebrating the cancellation of a sequel with a tweet like that?
What does Feig gain from starting a war he was bound to lose? What would he gain if he potentially asked Twitter to threaten Obama with a suspension? People would still tweet about how much they hated the movie and, as a director, you have to accept that.
2016: when directors attack. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean George Lucas is next and will be waging a war on Stoklasa.
[Photo by Dave Mangels/Getty Images]