I flew 2000 miles to see the new Ghostbusters movie.
It’s true. And what will make that revelation more surprising to some of you is that I’d already seen it. Yeah. It was a second viewing. I knew what I was getting into. That’s why I did it.
Bear with me…
Back in 1984, when Ghostbusters was in theaters, I saw it three times. This was a big deal. I was 13 years old, and completely reliant on my parents for transport to and from the theater, which was 9 miles from our house. Repeat viewings of films had be to reserved for movies that were genuinely magnificent. For me, this put Ghostbusters in the same camp as E.T., Tron, The Empire Strikes Back, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Fortunately, my parents were completely supportive of my geeky obsessions…
Hero worship is a mandatory part of growing up. Everyone does it, to one degree or another. Whether your heroes were firemen or football players, Jedi Knights or Obtainers Of Rare Antiquities, you have to relate.
In 1984, my heroes were Ghostbusters. These guys were geeks like me. Also like me, they were smart, well-read, socially awkward, and the opposite of athletic. But they were cool. I wanted to party with Ray Stantz. I wanted to be Peter Venkman. Winston Zeddemore was the uncle I wished I had. And if Egon Spengler had been the physics teacher at my high school, my life might’ve gone another way.
The Ghostbusters were the sort of role models parents never knew they had to fear — a mad medley of science geek and bad boy chic. Their story was of the Cinderella variety (if you’ll pardon the cross-gender metaphor): A group of marginalized geeks with hopes and dreams struggle through lives of mediocrity until their dealings with mystical phenomena garner them an invitation to the ball. For kids like me, the Ghostbusters were hope strutting through the streets of New York, overall-clad, proton packing, brilliant and adored.
And that’s why I flew 2000 miles for a repeat viewing of the new Ghostbusters film, all the way back in central Illinois, in the very same small town theater in which I saw the original all those years ago. And this time, I took with me two of the most important women in my life. And while my mother and sister had seen Ghostbusters with me back in 1984, they didn’t have the same experience as me. Because I recognized that this was an experience 32 years in the making.
The result was predictable: The three of us, on a balcony, laughing hysterically at the on-screen antics of a quartet of awkward, relatable women. We walked away buoyant, with invincible ear-to-ear grins. We shamelessly rocked out in the car to the soundtrack (which I shamelessly paid for), shared our favorite bits of the film, and acknowledged how awesome those ladies were on the screen.
I’m not sure if the subtlety and nuance of what they’d just experienced was evident to them. But it was to me.
The original Ghostbusters is an iconic piece of sci-fi comedy. It will stand eternal as such, as will my love and appreciation for it.
And I love it all the more for its part in inspiring this new film, which smashes gender stereotypes and creates real and relatable heroes for the other half of the humans. Something like this was long overdue.
And I honestly can’t wait to see Ghostbusters again. Which one? Pick one. They’re both brilliant.