Can Ghostbusters 2016 be fan fiction?

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People don’t like the new Ghostbusters movie, and that’s okay. The movie caught plenty of flack on the way to release for things like bad trailers, poor choice of music, and rebooting a movie from 1984 with a new all-female leading cast. But how valid the pain many Ghostbusters fans are enduring might be does not interest me as much as the pain itself, which I intend to cure.

Ghostbusters fans: if you don’t like the new movie, you can just write it off as fan fiction.

For the uninitiated, fan fiction is fan-made art (a picture, a video, a written story, etc.) that uses the characters, story, and/or setting of a popular work, but isn’t officially endorsed by the makers of the original thing it’s based on. For example, a Star Trek fan might write a story about Captain Kirk and Spock falling in love and knitting sweaters all day, but no die hard Trekkie will become enraged by such a story because it’s not an “official” story.

But isn’t the new Ghostbusters an “official” story and therefor can’t be labeled as fan fiction? No!

I will argue that audiences, and not creators of an intellectual property like Star Trek or Ghostbusters, are the ones who ultimately decide what’s “official” and what’s fan fiction. This doesn’t mean fans can deny creators their right to make money off an intellectual property, but it does mean fans can deny creators the credibility they seek from fans in recognizing their work as “official” or part of the established canon.

If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry, because it doesn’t have to. The goal here is not to see some greater Truth about the entertainment industry, but to understand how a different perspective can shield you from the pain of seeing your franchise twisted into something you no longer enjoy.

In practice, this allows me to thoroughly enjoy Starship Troopers as an insightful book from 1959, and I can simply disregard the lame 1997 film of the same name the same way I disregard all the other Starship Troopers fan fiction on the internet. I can also remain content with RoboCop being a single-film franchise, because neither the sequels nor the remake have any more credibility than a 3-year-old’s fingerpainting of Alex Murphy. And the bug-ridden “canonical” continuation of the Aliens franchise in the atrocious Aliens: Colonial Marines video game need be nothing more in my mind than a fan-inspired but ultimately unofficial story of what might have happened (but didn’t) on LV-426 after Ripley left.

The beauty of this “call the parts of a franchise you don’t like fan fiction” method of thinking is that it is ultimately just an opinion and therefor cannot be proven false; it can only be agreed or disagreed with. And those who agree with it can weather even the most unholy twisting of their most beloved stories!

So, if you you still feel the new Ghostbusters movie could kill your affection for the franchise as a whole, consider denying it is anything more than another piece of Ghostbusters fan fiction, and move on with your enjoyment of the 1984 original. And try to forget the lackluster Ghostbusters II from 1989.

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