The California Legislative Women’s Caucus celebrated the women of the new Ghostbusters film Monday night with a free screening in downtown Sacramento, hosted by Women in California Leadership, a charitable organization that focuses on education initiatives.
The updated Ghostbusters — released in early July — is a gender-flipped reboot of the 1984 Bill Murray-Harold Ramis classic — this time, featuring a female-led cast fronted by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.
The film quickly became one of the most divisive and talked-about films of the summer, after its trailer earned the dubious distinction of becoming the most-disliked movie preview in YouTube history shortly after its premiere in March.
According to the Sacramento Bee, some members of the 33-member caucus were on hand Monday night for the screening, held at the Crest Theater. State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) reportedly introduced the film.
At the screening, Jackson reportedly responded to some of the criticism surrounding the film by reading tweets from critics.
“[I]f this movie ruins your childhood, your adulthood ain’t going so good anyway,” Jackson joked, according to the Bee.
Jackson seemed to be referring to Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, whose negative review of the film last month set off a major social media controversy.
Yiannopoulous wrote that in the original film, “… the bad guys were the clueless bureaucrats in the government, who set off a supernatural crisis through bumbling and red tape.
“In this film, by contrast, the enemy is all men, while the government ends up playing dad.”
Yiannopoulous also said the film had undermined its own actors: “The petty, two-dimensional feminist posturing of Ghostbusters is demeaning to all four of its leads.” Women in the original film, he said, had “captured the range of tough broads one finds in New York City.”
The review triggered controversy on Twitter, and Ghostbusters co-star Leslie Jones blamed Yiannopoulous — without proof — for inciting racist and sexist tweets against her. She complained to Twitter, which banned Milo from the platform — as many in the media cheered.
But the banning brought new scorn for Twitter, which lost its public relations chief this week, and could not save Ghostbusters from financial and artistic failure.
That’s where Sacramento Democrats hope to make a difference.
“It is so wonderful when there’s a film out there that has a bunch of strong, smart, bold women,” Jackson said in introducing the film, according to the Bee. “It does speak volumes about how far women have come yet how much farther we still have to go for gender equality.”
Some of the lawmakers in attendance also reportedly noted the screening came days after Hillary Clinton became the first woman ever to be nominated for president by a major political party.
The creative team behind the film, including director Paul Feig, cast criticism of the film as misogynistic and sexist, owing to the predominantly female cast, while critics — and the original film’s director, Ivan Reitman — claimed the negative reaction came primarily from fans of the 1984 film who simply didn’t think the new film was funny.
The film has earned $107 million domestically in its first three weekends of release, an underwhelming result given its reported $144 million budget, before marketing costs are factored in (which pushes its true cost to around $250 million).
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum