Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

In Which I Have Ghostbuster Thoughts

This is a silly post and nobody should care about it, least of all me, but sometimes things enter my head and knock around like a poltergeist instead of simply passing on through. And the only way to, well, exorcise these thoughts is to purge them somehow.

Thank the gods I have This Old Thing, this —

*lifts up website, squints at the word etched into its underneath*

— this blog.

I have Ghostbusters thoughts.

I mean, really, they’re story thoughts, mostly, but it comes via the conduit of the most recent Ghostbusters flick, and ostensibly, all the Ghostbuster flicks before them.

[note, below contains some mild spoilers, though honestly nothing I didn’t already know going into the movie, but please stay frosty]

[get it, frosty]

[because frozen empire]


I saw the new Ghostbusters movie, which is essentially the old Ghostbusters movie, in that there are Ghostbusters who live in a decrepit NYC firehouse fighting ghosts with hand-held nuclear weapons, and there’s some kind of ancient ghost god, and there’s also animated stone monument, and there’s marshmallow people, and there’s a coming apocalypse, and there’s ghosts getting loose from the ghost containment unit, and there’s a Keymaster guy except it’s fire and not portals, and there’s literally the same dickless guy trying to shut them down, aaaaaand it’s barely even a remix of the first movie and honestly, it’s fine. It’s aggressively fine. Again, your mileage may absolutely vary here but, I had a good time, not a great time, and it left minimal impression upon me, merely sliding off my brain like a fried egg off a non-stick pan. The jokes only half-landed. The action was sometimes thrilling, sometimes enervating. It was fine. It was a movie that happened and that I saw. Pretty much… the end.

(Special note must go toward the fact the best people in the movie are the stand-up comedians: Patton Oswalt, Kumail Nanjiani, James Acaster.)

That said, it did make me Think Some Things about storytelling in this current era, and I thought, what better use for this raggedy old blog than to opine fruitlessly upon those things.

The first thing, and arguably the biggest thing, is that I think nostalgia is a poison. It’s a nice poison! A sweet poison. Like a sugary tiki drink. The sugar isn’t good for you, the alcohol isn’t good for you, and it makes you feel nice for a time while it’s trying (and probably failing unless you drank 20) to kill you. It’s there for the slow death, the long con.

I think nostalgia is not great because generally it relies on some likely incorrect or at least incomplete, hazy veneer, rose-tinted glasses view of things that would simply be better off if we simply shut it in a drawer. You can pull it out of the drawer once in a while to look at it — okay, totally fine! But pack it away. It’s done. Move on. Nostalgia is about memory, about remembering — it should be passive, not active.

Problem is, capitalism has weaponized nostalgia. (Politics has, as well. I mean, MAGA? C’mon.) In terms of storytelling, though, capitalism gladly slithers together with nostalgia, the two coupling wetly, popping out their half-formed story babies. It doesn’t keep the nostalgia in a drawer. It refuses to let a thing simply be what it was, a memory of “better” times — no no, it must be pulled back out, waved around, given a new paint job, and of course, given a price tag. Nostalgia isn’t just nostalgia, now. Nostalgia is a product, a service, a gland you can stroke and milk for that glorious hit of nostalgia juice, all at a premium price. And when I say this, I obviously am making it sound like a Very Bad Thing, but at the same time…

You know, I’m a sucker for it, too. I went to see the Ghostbusters movie. I gave them money, even though it was like, four thousand dollars to see the thing on IMAX and endure 12 (!) minutes of non-movie commercials and 12 (!) more minutes of trailers before a movie actually started. And it’s not even always all bad! Dune and Dune 2 aren’t really relying on nostalgia, per se, but are still both… rehashes of books and movies and miniseries that came before. The new Alien movie, Romulus, looks like it’s going to scare the absolute piss out of me, and I look forward to that. Barbie was great, and I saw it, and yet, it’s based on a toy and exists in part because it’s trying to capitalize on your nostalgia and knowledge about that toy. Am I going to see the new Godzilla Kong movie, even though there has been endless iterations of each and it’s probably not even going to be great? I mean, I guess? Part of me would almost rather not at this point? But… ennh?

(Note: have not seen Godzilla Minus One yet, but totally want to, really bad. Heard it’s great. Nostalgia or not. Shut up.)

This is such a basic-ass plebian cry, I know, but it would be great if we got something new for once. Just entirely new! It can be a remix of stuff, it can be inspired by other things, but a lot of the material we continue to reiterate was actually new once, and how great is that? And here is where someone correctly notes that we are getting new things, smaller movies like Love Lies Bleeding (which is apparently great, and maybe even revolutionary, and I’ll see it soon as I’m able), and yes, absolutely, and we should endeavor to see those movies and tell everyone about them.

But I’m talking like, pop culture geek nerd shit, sci-fi stuff, fantasy stuff, action stuff. (Note, I’m not including horror in here, because damn, horror actually seems to go for it as often as not.) Here someone will surely note that there are movies out on streaming that definitely break this cycle and do new things but… I wish they were stickier, and overall, better?

Like, Marvel managed to speed up the nostalgic human centipede cycle, right? It made us feel nostalgia for shit we just saw. Like, “whoa, a Captain America cameo in this movie, I’m fond of him and missed him for those fifteen minutes when he was not on my screen.” The machine keeps churning and pushing the content so fast that I think it’s why we’re burning out on Marvel and, potentially, superhero shit in general. You don’t even have time to digest the one thing before it’s cramming more into your open maw.

All right, I’m even boring myself with this take. I’d just love to have some new shit is all. TV is a pretty good place to find the new shit, to be fair, so that’s great. As are books! Yay books! We like books! More books for the book god! But I just feel like all the big movies my kid’s gonna grow up with are… really just the same shit I grew up with, aggressively rebranded (but not too much) and aggressively marketed and treated like it’s mythology and folklore rather than just, y’know, capitalism at work, filling up all the empty spaces at the box office with the next Godzilla John Wick Spider-Man Villain Mad Max Spinoff Beetlejuice Ape Kingdom Garfield Crowfield Beverly Hills Quiet Place Despicable Deadpool Star Wars ahhhhhhhHHHHHh.





It’s fine, just ignore the Old Man Yelling At Nostalgia. I’m even boring myself at this point.

Okay, what else?

(more spoilers inbound, BIG ONES THIS TIME, fyi)

(no for real)

(spoiler spoiler spoilers)

a) in Ghostbusters why are there weird non-human ghosts, like there are dragons and weird gremlin things and shit, but then there are also very human-looking ghosts, they never take time to explain any of this wtf

b) I wonder if the new movie is set somehow in an alternate timeline where the city pays them to be ghostbusters, because nobody is paying them but they’re not starving to death, and NYC is seriously fucking expensive, and yet they seem able to follow their bliss of *checks notes* destroying half the city to trap mostly harmless ghosts

c) as you grow up you realize that the guy who wants to shut them down is totally right, what the fuck are these unregulated spectral janitors doing, stop fucking around with GHOSTS and cramming them into that BOX, yes obviously this is very bad, a child could tell you this is bad, what the shit, do we hate government that much that we really don’t want someone to regulate the dudes with portable nuclear weapons shooting lasers at wraiths

d) listen did that movie totally just queerbait everyone, like, there was a romance between Phoebe and the pyro ghost girl, right, that they just decided to lean away from instead of into? that was a thing, right?

e) you know how Carrie Fisher used to be quietly renowned for “punching up” scripts that needed it? this flick needed Carrie Fisher rill bad

f) you saw all the big stuff in the preview

g) I liked Afterlife a lot and found it more filmic, whereas this felt more like… TV, if that makes any sense?

i) why am I still talking about ghostbusters?

h) technically h comes before i, oops

j) I could’ve used some frozen empire in my Frozen Empire

k) the Monster Villain is cool looking but literally has no motivation beyond Monster Villain, there’s just nothing there, absolute zero

l) the movie wastes so many of its characters, chief among them Lucky, played by Celeste O’Connor, she’s just… she’s just a tokenized non-entity?

m) the villain’s entire plan relies on Phoebe using a device that isn’t meant for humans that seems like it could hurt her and that nobody knows could work on people so it’s one of those weird villain plans that is essentially impossible without a series of intense coincidences paired with absolutely inane character decisions

n) I may be talking myself into disliking this movie, oh shit

o) quick quick uhhh some things I liked: loved the guy’s hand breaking off and still turning the phonograph handle; loved Zeddemore getting some prime time; loved the sort of Institute-level version of the Ghostbusters; McKenna Grace is really great in it; liked Fire Girl though again why are some ghosts Fire Girl and some are Slimer and some are uhhh a sewer dragon; the Gary-Called-Dad beat was the one emotional beat in the movie that hit me like a fist to my heart; when the movie gets really weird it really works, like the weirder it chooses to be, the better it becomes; actually, Ray’s emotional beats kinda work too, like this is what the dude loves and he’s all in, which makes me think he probably should’ve been a character who sacrifices himself for this job because honestly, that’s how Ray needs to go out; also I’d watch a whole movie about Nadeem’s grandmother

p) oh my god why am I still writing this post

q) oh my god why are you still reading this post

r) am I the only one who needs to recite the entire alphabet to remember what order the letters are in, don’t answer this, I’ll just pretend you all do it and I’m not a weirdo

342) fuck it I’m switching to numbers

343) okay I know it’s based on pre-existing material, but FALL GUY looks like a lot of fun, and there’s nothing wrong with fun, oh and no, this has nothing to do with Ghostbusters, I’m sorry

344) why are the mini-puft marshmallows

345) does trevor even do anything in the movie

346) you guys remember that time Ray got oral sex from a ghost, what the fuck was that shit

347) I’m going to stop now before I go mad, anyway, the movie is fine, nostalgia is weird, stories are hard, a lot of scripts could use a hefty dose of punching up by talented puncher-uppers, and I’m tired now

666) buy my books please or I die, the end