Ghostbusters 3 has been lusted after since the second one nearly two decades ago. Lately there seems to be the will to get it done, but the project continues sputtering around in development hell with Dan Akyroyd declaring that he’s already tuning up Ecto 1 and on the other side crotchety Bill Murray insistant that it’ll never get done. But Bill, we need it to get done. The world needs Ghostbusters 3 and I’m here to tell you why.
Science is in trouble.
On film our heroes are underage douche bags who befriend robots or children with mystical powers or worse, vapid bimbos who lust after fangless vampires. Peter Parker the awkward but brilliant student from the comics has been replaced by Peter Parker that emo kid who whines about relationships. Batman is still a detective, but he steals all his best gadgets from the hapless, underpaid inventors in his mega-corporation’s cellar. Indiana Jones, former man of science, hides inside a fridge to escape a nuclear explosion. Wolverine is a product of science, but he’d like the scientists who did it dead and spends most of the time trying to stab anyone who knows how to use a particle accelerator. Dr. Robert Langdon wastes his degrees solving cases to help shore up fervent religious belief in the corrupt Catholic Church. Star Wars has turned into a religion in which people worship microscopic aliens. Watching Jesus being beat to death by Mel Gibson’s camera was a moviegoing event of unparalleled scale and the less said about The Chronicles of Narnia’s Christ obsession the better. In WALL-E it was science that made everyone fat and in The Matrix we’re all just batteries plugged into science’s mechanical menace. Paranormal Activity is the number one movie at the box office this weekend because it makes a world full of mysticism and evil spirits seem like reality, a reality beyond our control.
Out in the real world it’s much the same. Our last president was afraid of witches and I’m pretty he sure came up with his foreign policy after watching The Exorcist. More recently, doctors can’t get people to take needed vaccinations because they prefer conspiracy theories to cold hard fact. Bill Nye The Science Guy got booed in Waco for telling people that the Moon reflects sunlight and our kids don’t know if they evolved from monkeys or simply burst into being one afternoon when Jehovah got tired of watching Married with Children reruns. Science has long stopped being cool and skepticism is now regarded with, well, skepticism. Even with the environment crumbling and the world collapsing, no one wants to be one of those nerdy lab coat dudes who, incidentally, might be able to fix it all. Unemployment may be on the rise but American companies can’t hire enough brainpower to keep afloat. People would rather work at McDonalds than learn physics.
Ghostbusters 3 could change all of that.
Twenty years ago science wasn’t in trouble. “Back off, I’m a scientist!” shouted Peter Venkman. Ghostbusters was a product of a brighter time; a time when science trumped everything and where, occasionally, being smart meant getting the girl. It’s a movie which is, quite simply, about science kicking the supernatural’s ass. We ain’t afraid of no ghosts because we’ll blast them to bits with proton packs strapped to our back and loaded for bear. The unknown was just a speed bump which could, with enough brain power, be crushed into submission and be forced to drive our public transportation or animate national landmarks for our amusement. Scientists were rock stars like Ian Malcolm or poon hounds like the aforementioned Venkman. Kids used science to create supermodel slaves and adults used it to soup up exotic sports cars and travel back in time.
Mysticism and ghostly obsessions have had their fun, now it’s time for science to step in, cross streams, and blast these supernatural apparitions back into the past where they belong. We’re drowning in ghosts. Who you gonna call? Might I suggest the Ghostbusters? They take on the supernatural with brains and brawn. They’re the antidote we need to a growing pop cultural environment of fear and mysticism and they have a catchy theme song. Americans aren’t likely to listen to the sales pitch of actual scientists, we can’t even get everyone on board with this whole global warming thing. But we’ll all hum along to that Ghostbusters song and in a subtle way, movies like it can influence the way we all think about the world around us. Got a problem? We can solve it without a spirit medium or by handing over our children to priests for molestation. All you need is a couple of scientists and a proton pack.