When news of an all-female Ghostbusters reboot reached fans of the original movies, there was a vocal online backlash. Its first trailer ranked as the most disliked in history, after receiving more than 600,000 thumbs-down votes on YouTube.
Now, Violet Ramis Stiel, daughter of the late actor Harold Ramis – who played Egon Spengler in the original movies – has written an article imploring loyalists to the original line-up to give the new movie a chance.
In a piece for Splitsider she insists her father wouldn't have approved of the negativity towards the remake and the use of his name to undermine it.
"In his personal life, Harold Ramis was a kind, generous and gracious person," she says. "Professionally, he was always about sharing the spotlight and making the other guy look good. Please, stop using my dad as an excuse to hate the new Ghostbusters. It degrades his memory to spew bile in his name."
Ramis passed away in 2014 after a successful career as a writer, director and actor on titles including Groundhog Day and Knocked Up.
Ramis Stiel recalls following her father's career as a child and how angered she was at age seven by a TV version of Ghostbusters which didn't feature her father's likeness as Egon.
"I was so disappointed that they had taken the character away from my dad and so offended that people who liked the cartoon just accepted this new Egon without question," she wrote. " 'Don't you feel bad that you're not in the cartoon?' " I asked one Saturday morning as The Real Ghostbusters came on and I changed the channel. He laughed. " 'Umm, no. It's fine. It's business, Violet. The cartoon is its own thing.' "
Having learned from her dad's openness to change and newness, she suggests: "Let's be generous and make room for all of the visions and interpretations of what Ghostbusters can be."
"I still get annoyed when I see blonde cartoon Egon, but who cares?! It's a 20-year-old cartoon! The new movie is not the original and it's not trying to be. Give it a chance and go see it! Or don't, that's fine. But resist the urge to hold on so tightly to the past that you choke off new life."
Following the negative response to the initial trailer, the reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth, has received largely positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with a rating of 78%, speaking volumes about the initial bias towards it.
Many of the negative comments on the trailer were tied to the cast's gender, with director Paul Feig speaking out about how the backlash was amplified due to "vile misogyny" towards the all-female cast.
He later elaborated that "Some of [the criticism of the first trailer] is from people who don’t want an old property touched – I’m sympathetic to that. But the ones who are hating it because it’s about women? That’s just a non-starter.”
Critics who reviewed the new movie have also been targeted with misogynist backlash from trolls. Nigel M Smith wrote a response piece to those he called "Ghostbros," after his positive review was ludicrously accused of "pandering to politically correct, radical feminist rubbish."
But, as Ramis Stiel suggests, the 2016 Ghostbusters movie provides a chance for a new generation to engage with the story, so it should be appreciated irrespective of the original and of the actor's genders.
"Let's give my nine-year-old daughter a chance to put on a proton pack and feel like a badass," she wites. "In the spirit of my dad and his love for movies and comedy above all, I'll be there for Ghostbusters 2016 opening weekend with my kids, eating popcorn, wearing my Egon Spengler tribute pin, cheering on the new crew, and laughing loudly, from the heart."