Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Holy Shit, Ghostbusters Is Super Conservative

So two weeks ago I was in Washington, D.C. for a conference, and a friend of mine and I had planned on walking around and doing some sight-seeing and other touristy stuff. But then it was raining heavily, so instead we hung out on my friend's couch droning beers and watching t.v. (I mean, why travel to our nation's capital to do anything else).

Anyway, we ended up stumbling upon an airing of Ghostbusters, a movie I hadn't seen since I was a kid and mostly just remembered as the reason for Ecto Cooler existing (which will forever give the movie a pass in my eyes). But watching it again as a grown adult is really a very different experience.

For one, man, do they get a lot of milage out of that Ray Parker, Jr. song. In addition to playing in full over the opening credits, it pops up at least three times in the movie. Very economical use of the soundtrack budget, I guess. But that's not the point of this post.

Also, there is definitely a seen in which Dan Akroyd's character, Ray Stantz, receives oral sex from a ghost. In a movie that is only rated PG, nonetheless. This is neither here nor there, it was just really weird to realize there's a ghost fellatio scene in a beloved children's movie. But that's not the point of this post, either.

No the point of this post is that Ghostbusters has to be one of the most conservative movies I've ever seen. Because the real villain of the film is not Vigo Carpathian, but is instead Walter Peck and the Environmental Protection Association:

Pictured: Every 80s movie villain
What makes it most ridiculous is not even the fact that, hey, objectively speaking the EPA has good reason to be concerned here (after all, these are a bunch of amateurs building nuclear reactors), but instead how the EPA is portrayed: as an all-powerful, despotic organization. Instead of, you know, the underfunded and completely feckless organization it actually is.

For one, just look at how dude is dressed there -- in the world of Ghostbusters, apparently low-level government bureaucrats can afford finely tailored three-piece suits. But even more ridiculous is the level of power he's portrayed as having; the instant he decides something is up wight he Ghostbusters, he's back with about a dozen NYPD officials. Because if there's one thing we all know the NYPD prioritizes, it's EPA inspections. In a world in which environmental protections a rebutted at every turn, it's downright hilarious to see a fictionalized EPA which apparently has direct command over local police departments in its long litany of extensive powers. And of course, EPA inspectors have basically unlimited power to shut down private businesses at a moment's notice in this world, as opposed to issuing tiny fines and milquetoast letters of condemnation like they do in the real world.

It's hard to even catalogue all the ways this depiction of the EPA is not only wrong, but so far from the truth as to be about as backwards as possible. The whole EPA plot (which drives most of the action in the film) is so paranoid about the government having any power whatsoever, it reads like something Ron Paul would dismiss as being a bit too paranoid about the role of government power.

I suppose it's not terribly surprising that a Reagan-era movie would cast environmental protections as the antagonist, but it was definitely jarring to see this movie as an adult who actually knows what the EPA is and does, as opposed to when I was a kid and mostly fascinated by the antics of Slimer.

I'm now very curious if the new remake will have the same rabidly anti-regulation focus as the original, or if they'll find some even more powerless regulatory body to pin all the world's evils on. But in any event, the new movie might spurn the reintroduction of Ecto Cooler. And if that's actually the case, I can forgive pretty much any amount of blatantly propagandistic conservative messaging….

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