Dan Aykroyd to ride the sexist "Ghostbusters" reboot backlash all the way to the bank

After 15 years of trying, Aykroyd gets his wish for a new all-male "Ghostbusters" - starring Channing Tatum?

By Erin Keane

Chief Content Officer

Published March 10, 2015 2:39PM (EDT)

Dan Aykroyd       (AP/Evan Agostini)
Dan Aykroyd (AP/Evan Agostini)

Hey, remember all the way back in January when we were totally excited about Paul Feig’s amazing “Ghostbusters” reboot cast? Remember when the less-dank corners of the Internet cheered on the idea of the beloved franchise receiving a much-needed boost with no less than Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy anchoring a refreshed version of the legendary comedy along with up-and-coming “Saturday Night Live” comedians Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones? Remember when it finally felt like we could have nice things, even if it meant subduing and trapping the childhood memories of weeping Twitter-bros with our collective Proton-powered vaginas?

That announcement might feel like a hundred Internet years ago, but less than two months later, Sony Pictures reports that original Ghostbuster (and totes pro-female-empowerment, you-go-girls!-guy) Dan Aykroyd will, after all of his aborted, ill-conceived attempts, cross the streams to revive his so-called “more conventional” reboot of “Ghostbusters,” with original director Ivan Reitman joining him at the helm of the expanding franchise. The first film in their vision is expected in 2017.

If you’re confused about what a “more conventional” “Ghostbusters” looks like, he means all dudes. Congratulations, guys — at least Donald Trump is happy now!

In a surprisingly canny move, “Magic Mike” star Channing Tatum is even being floated as a potential lead. I can hear the pitch now: What do ladies love even more than themselves? Channing fucking Tatum.

After 15 years of fruitless begging — and a quick press round to pay obsequious lip service to Paul Feig’s reboot (“It’s very tasteful.”) — Aykroyd has finally persisted in pushing through his vision of a “Ghostbusters” reboot that will include a bunch of superhero movie dudes (Joe and Anthony Russo of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and Drew “Iron Man 3” Pearce) writing, producing, directing and starring in what will surely be a less-inspired knock-off of the 1984 original that owes much of its brilliance to Bill Murray being there to make up half of the best lines on set.

Aykroyd has been peddling his treatment for “Ghostbusters 3” since 1999, a “let’s empty Hell into New York” idea so tepid and poorly-executed that Murray, who will take a role on a lark if you can convince him on the way to the golf course, has repeatedly refused to save. (And this is a guy who took a second ride on the “Garfield” train!) After the nondescript “Ghostbusters 2,” which owed a good deal of its look and feel to the franchise’s kiddie-friendly “The Real Ghostbusters” cartoon and its comedy inspiration to “Three Men and a Baby,” who could blame him?

Aykroyd once blamed the long delay in rejuvenating the “Ghostbusters” brand on risk-adverse studio execs, though this excellent timeline from The Week details point-by-point all of the issues that have cropped up over the years. But I guess the overwhelming excitement about “Freaks and Geeks” creator Feig’s project finally tipped the scales in their favor? Way to hustle, guys. Feig’s film is scheduled to begin shooting this year for a 2016 release. Reitman tells Deadline that the dude-helmed version will be released the following year, but with all of the branding bells and whistles he and Aykroyd are apparently planning for Ghost Corps, it’s not too paranoid a stretch to assume that Feig’s film is expected to be the cool amuse-bouche quickly eclipsed by  Ghost Corps’ Never-Ending Pasta Bowl cash-in of cartoon knock-offs, merchandising tie-ins and hell, I don’t know, “Ghostbusters”-themed Caribbean cruises where fans sip daiquiris with Peter MacNicol while learning how to restore demonically-possessed 17th century works of art.

“This is a branded entertainment,” Reitman warned Deadline. “It’s just the beginning of what I hope will be a lot of wonderful movies.”

“The Ghostbusters” are superheroes who fight evil with science — their brains and their courage (paired occasionally with their bravado, foolhardiness and pride) are the secrets to their powers, not their dicks. Why has Aykroyd persisted so long in retooling the brand to create a hunkier version of his younger self when a quality project that would, in the hands of King Geek himself Paul Feig, certainly do more than honor the amazing spirit of the original film, is already moving along without him? A feat, it is worth mentioning very loudly and from as many rooftops as possible, that Aykroyd failed to achieve first — had he, it is highly doubtful that Feig's vision would have ever seen the light of day.

Sony, of course, was poised and ready to cash in on Feig-related excitement — and the subsequent, all-too-predictable dudebro backlash to the outlandish idea that women could also play wisecracking paranormal investigators — but only restarting this vision of "Ghostbusters" (as Vulture calls it, Bro-stbusters) after Feig's project is well in motion sends a message that women hear from Hollywood all too often: Your stories, even when they are inspired directly from a beloved comedy institution, are simply worth less than men's. You can have your Girl Ghostbusters, sure, for now — but how could that possibly be enough for the audience who really counts?

By Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's Chief Content Officer. She is also on faculty at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University and her memoir in essays, "Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me," was named one of NPR's Books We Loved In 2022.

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Dan Aykroyd Ghostbusters Ivan Reitman Paul Feig