I was going to do a review of Thor (big, shiny and sexy, for those who want to know), but then I decided that everything good, bad and indifferent about it has been written. Go here for a good, comprehensive review by someone far more knowledgable about the Marvel Universe than I. Instead, I’m going to favor you with one of my continuous obsessions. One that a lot of people share.
I have a tendency to get really, really excited about certain things. Books, movies, actors, directors, writers, bands … these usually form the center of my obsessive desires. I geek out all the time. But it’s a wide and varied spectrum, untethered by time period or coolness factor. And there are gradations of obsession. I was passionate about The Beatles for most of my high school career. I don’t think there has been a time since I first saw Notorious when Alfred Hitchcock was not my favorite director. Hunter S. Thompson has been a great hero since college. And then there’s Ghostbusters.
You know Ghostbusters. EVERYONE knows Ghostbusters. It came out two years before I was even born. When I was a child, I mashed the two Ghostbusters movies together into one gigantic Ghostbusting memory that undoubtedly involved the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man fighting the Statue of Liberty in the Hudson River. Egon Spengler was one of the first crushes I ever had. Yeah, that’s right, THIS guy:
I think it was the hair and the glasses and the whole brainiac thing. Also, being a faculty brat and continuous student, I have a thing for slightly weird academics. I still think he’s pretty damned sexy, but that’s another post. I watched the Ghostbusters cartoon, wholly confused by the fact that Egon seemed to be wearing Cool Whip on his head and Peter sounded like Garfield. I had an outfit, made up of khaki pants and an army jacket that I stole from my mother. I pinned poorly drawn decals of ghosts to the sleeves. I WAS a Ghostbuster, dammit!
In the years that followed, my passion for this greatest of American comedies waned. I turned to other, more esoteric interests. I became a cinephile and book nerd and looked down my nose at such common things as popular comedies. Then, one day, I went to Montreal with my parents for a film conference. And the first Ghostbusters happened to be playing on television.
That was when my little five or six or seven year old self began running around, crying to be let out. I felt suddenly ecstatic, like someone told me the Easter Bunny was real. In the days, weeks and months that followed, I basically relived all my childhood. I wrote a paper for my horror/sci-fi class at NYU on comic apocalyptic imagery in the first film. I rewatched both films numerous times. I began watching the TV series again. While I did not go so far as to, say, build a proton pack or buy a jumpsuit, I definitely did my best to completely geek out.
Ghostbusters for me was not just a really cool movie. When I was a child, I was frightened of ghosts. Still am, to tell the truth. And what Ghostbusters did was prove to me that ghosts were scary, yeah, but they were also funny, ridiculous, something to laugh it. And when they were scary, well, there were always those guys dressed like exterminators who would show up and stop them. For me now, Ghostbusters represents New York, home, and the exceptional power of the comic to transcend terror. In less than a week, I’m going to get a tattoo on my shoulder of the Ghostbusters logo. It might be a little trite, a little straightforward, but it actually means something to me. It means that, in the end, laughter will win. Or maybe it just means that I was born in the 80s. One or the other.