For the last three decades, diehard Ghostbusters fans — known as Ghostheads — have worked tirelessly to become one of the most widespread and respectable fan communities. With their help, generations have been inundated with a love and appreciation for the 1984 supernatural buddy comedy.
Although the source material has long been somewhat on the back burner of pop culture — it has been more than 30 years, after all — that has never stopped Ghostbusters fans from pulling on their beige jumpsuits and proton packs and doing some good in the world. But ever since the new Ghostbusters reboot was announced, that strong community has become drowned out by a louder, more schismatic rallying cry.
The Vocal Minority
In January 2015, director Paul Feig and Sony announced that the new Ghostbusters team would be comprised of three scientist and one everyman. Sound familiar? The only major difference? They're all women. Cue my feigned shock when this announcement was met with massive public backlash and the grabbing of pitchforks.
While plenty of fans were more than happy with the casting of comedic powerhouses Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon as our four new Ghostbusters, a far more vociferous party fell into a panicked frenzy. Instead of dying down over time — as general fan rage tends to do — the dialogue of this hateful sect has only become increasingly vitriolic.
Using the alleged fragility of their memories as justification for their callous rants, these fans have accused the cast, Feig, and producers Amy Pascal and Ivan Reitman — yes, the Ivan Reitman who directed the original Ghostbusters movies — of ruining their childhoods. But what does this campaign really aim to achieve?
I'm not suggesting, like some have, that fandom is broken. I don't think that there is really any wrong way to be a fan. I do, however, take umbrage with the means by which this group has taken it upon themselves to not only assert their distain for the unreleased film but to spread their hatred far and wide across the internet.
In the year or so since promotion for the new Ghostbusters began, the vehement group of reboot critics has quickly excoriated the previously shiny and good-natured exterior of the fandom. The community that had been based on humor and inclusion has somehow become overwhelmed by one that wears the same uniform but boasts the opposite.
Despite the new Ghostbusters earning a stamp of approval — not to mention cameos — from Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts, Feig and his cast have endured countless harsh, misogynist and sometimes racist comments flung their way.
Ghostheads To The Rescue
But there's a large group of fans gaining traction who won't take their reputation being tarnished quietly: Enter the Ghostheads.
Yesterday, a new trailer for the documentary Ghostheads surfaced. The premise of the film is simple enough: It follows the lives and work of these dedicated Ghostbusters fans who have turned their love of a franchise into a community.
Ghostheads premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year and features interviews from new Ghostbusters director Feig, original director and producer Reitman, professional wrestler/Ghostbusters fan Zack Ryder, and original Ghostbusters Aykroyd and Hudson.
There are countless Ghostbusters fan chapters worldwide, each with its own patch and operating procedures. Despite some dissimilarities in specific chapters, the overarching message of the group is the same: Do good and use the Ghostbusters fandom to create positive change in the world.
Canadian director and Ghostbusters fan Brendan Mertens funded the documentary largely through Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns and filmed the documentary over the course of a year. Instead of passing along a message of hostility to the new Ghostbusters movie, Mertens put the priority on fan excitement over the expansion of the Ghostbusters universe.
In an interview with Variety, Mertens said of his Ghosthead peers:
“Ghostheads are friendly people — there’s not really any animosity like in other fandoms we’ve seen. They really use their powers for good — raising money for their local communities, providing a place for people who may otherwise feel alone, and visiting children’s hospitals in full gear, brightening the days of every child they meet.”
Whether they're showcasing their proton packs at a children's hospital or marching in a local parade, Ghostheads remind us of the positive impact fandom can have. In a time where it's commonplace to nitpick and complain about every morsel of entertainment that falls in our laps, these groups stand as the proud champions of the Ghostbusters franchise.
Their passion and zest for the subject matter does not manifest itself in the form of sexist comments or video blogs on how they will consciously abstain from seeing the movie as a form of protest (what a martyr). Instead, it is evident in the way they conduct themselves and use their fanaticism to spread happiness.
In lieu of of giving the unjustified Ghostbusters critics a soapbox from which to vocalize their hate, I propose we shine a light on the kindnesses that have long been the prevailing voice and culture of the Ghostbusters community.
One of the messages of Ghostbusters left me with was that it's important to hold strong to what you believe in, even when it goes against the general consensus. I have faith in Feig and believe that his all-female Ghostbusters team will be a strong addition to a classic franchise. At the very least, I won't knock it until giving it a fair shot. It's nice to finally know that there are plenty of other Ghostbusters fans who believe the same.
Ghostheads will be available on Netflix on July 15, the same day Ghostbusters reaches theaters.