But as the Nun said to the Bishop, let’s put our mouths in the right places to start things off. The rebooted Ghostbusters movie trailer was released yesterday to the inevitable sound of outrage and alarm (this is the internet after all folks!) I gave it a cursory glance yesterday amid the requests on social media for pitch forks, axes, and crowds of people to join forces to decry this awful misery. All in all though, at about 6am this morning, I had a wee look…and it was….alright.
I watched it again and let the thoughts marinade. The image that floated into my head like Slimer at a buffet was a memory of me watching the original trailer in front of my Dad. His words which came after a kiss of the teeth was, “Looks like tupidness” (This only makes sense if said in a disdainful weary Jamaican patois) The point is my Dad wasn’t the target audience, I was along with my little brother and I wanted the special edition toys that would feature in Shreddies and as for the image that showed spectral globes floating across a New York skyline, followed by exploding apartment windows, I didn’t know what it was about but Goddamn! I wanted it! I lost my shit in the playground and when I saw it, I could barely take it in.
Now fast forward. I'm older, much older. Ghostbusters has become a traditional watch and my brother, The Instant Classic and I were having one of our usual film rants when he made an very interesting point, “Why is it that in a lot of 80’s movies, the people who do the right thing are punished?” Light bulb moment.
So I rewatched it properly with my adult eyes on and I find myself getting wound up. As a kid, I adored Peter Venkman, I thought he was funny and great but as an adult, an adult who has a great affection for Bill Murray, Peter Venkman is a douche. He is only out douched by Schmidt in New Girl but at least he knows he’s a douche. Peter Venkman basically engages in unethical ‘experiments’ to get dates, manipulates his friend into bankruptcy on a rouse. Don’t believe me, watch it again. Egon and Ray believe as scientists from their evidence, Winston comes around to belief through experience, “I have seen shit that will turn you white!” But for Venkman, it’s just another hook because we are all marks in the con and some of us will pay through the nose for it. The reason the Ghostbusters end up arrested is failure to comply with the Environmental Protection Act, think about it. Firstly let’s agree that Walter Peck is an idiot but the he actually had a point. He believed that Venkman was a con and that the containment facilities to hold the ghosts were dangerous and could be emitting dangerous chemicals and hazards into the environment. While closing the containment unit is the stupidest way to prove the theory, his claim could stand and he’s definitely right about Venkman even though he has no dick.
Here’s the thing, there are some 80’s movies which are a battle cry to stick it to the man. The ‘pencil pusher’ is the enemy to the man living the American Dream. So because of that you get Top Gun, a film where essentially Tom Cruise is told that he may not have the emotional aptitude to fly jets but does it anyway because….he’s a Maverick (yep the clue is in the name). You get Ghostbusters and others that at some point will talk about a loose cannon, not playing by the rules…but this is going into another rant so let’s get back to busting ghosts.
My point is that with a different, non-nostalgic gaze I started to see Ghostbusters differently because it’s NEVER GOING TO BE THE SAME! That’s the kicker. Our childhoods are not sacred spaces, free from violation or closer inspection. When I was a kid I loved Ghostbusters, but I am not a kid anymore. I’m a grown ass woman, my world view is very different now. I genuinely have a bigger love for Egon Spengler and this is not because of the death of Harold Ramis. I appreciate his candor and that in fact some of the best lines from Ghostbusters are spoken by Egon, “Sorry, Venkman, I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.”
Ray Stantz is enthused with a passion of someone who has discovered the awesome in the thing they love and makes no apologies. The fact that Dan Ackroyd has a huge interest in the paranormal is evident and if anything shows the passion that can come when you stick to the thing you love regardless of whether it’s cool or not. The Winston Zeddemore character feels like what would happen if I found myself in this situation, wanting not to believe but along the way having to question what you have been told. It’s strange to realise that your childhood favourite has to be relegated to last place because…life happens. And that’s the point.
There comes a time when we need to put down the rose tinted spectacles of the past. The more I see on social media leads me to believe that because we don’t want to put these down so easily, we are caught in this cycle of outrage and disdain. “Not my Ghostbusters!” No it’s not yours anymore; in fact truthfully it was never yours. The original concept was a very different beast, not funny, very serious and the property of one Dan Ackroyd. Along the way, life and death changed the outcome to what we have today.
Here’s the thing. I guess that a part of me loves Egon Spengler, because I have become an old unapologetic geek. I might see the new movie, I may not. But either way it’s not going to remove Ghostbusters from the Essential Festive Viewing List in my house (along with Die Hard, The Last Boy Scout, The first 3 Indiana Jones movies, National Lampoons Vacation – yes vacation not Christmas keep up! And Scrooged) or the love I had for it when I was 7 years old.
Watch some of those precious movies again but do me a favour and take off the rosy specs. I guarantee you will find some different things happening, than what you thought as a child. Believe me I did. The Fox and the Hound became even more depressing, Say Anything has such a sweeter deeper significance, 16 Candles….oh god it’s rapey, Dirty Dancing.....did not see such feminist context until now but damn! That’s the thing about films that I love, the ability to see so much more with each viewing, to bond, to laugh and get angry.
My Dad did watch Ghostbusters by the way….at the time he loved it. It’s amazing what happens when you open up and give something a chance, even when it looks tupid.