I came across a video the other day which examined the role of women in the original Ghostbusters. And when you look at it—when it’s all broken down for you—the female characters in the film are sort of treated like crap, especially by the movie’s hero.
You see something like that, and you can’t unsee it. It can ruin your memory of the thing you once saw uncritically with your young innocent eyes.
It is almost worth not seeing it at all. It’s almost worth remembering things the way they were, even if it’s sort of misremembering, or selectively remembering, or consciously deleting certain details. We do this all the time in life. We selectively edit memory to fit only those narratives that we can bear.
When certain people point out the thorns in our happy pop-culture memories, a massive rage can ensue. You have a certain reality tunnel regarding the way things went down, and you’re not going to have that threatened.
You’re not going to have your interpretation of reality threatened. You won’t even allow that it’s an “interpretation” of reality—your reality IS reality, THE reality.
We see these things in religious wars. And the fact of the matter is: Ghostbusters past and present has become a type of religious war.
Pop-culture—what is known as “geek” culture—has long since become, in a sense, a type of religious war. That is why it has become so hard for me to enjoy this type of content and entertainment within the context of contemporary “fan” culture.
Because I am somewhere between an agnostic and an ecstatic starchild, and I just have no damn interest in this secular-religious war over characters owned by massive media/entertainment conglomerates.
I mean, it’s interesting to me in the anthropological sense.
And certainly, having more positive female role models does have an impact. Going from being a target for demonic possession (and Peter Venkman’s now excruciating to listen to pick-up lines) to an actual Ghostbuster does have an impact.
It’s also heresy. Which is why we just had the recent religious war over the Ghostbusters. You, possibly being outside the “fan” cognoscenti and viewing this controversy with baffled eyes and baffled brain—you might not understand the vitriol, the anger.
It’s a religious war. It’s about letting the chicks into the priesthood. I mean, what else is a Ghostbuster then a high-tech priest performing an exorcism? It is a type of priesthood. And according to the “Bible”—which is the original text, the 1985 movie—only men donned the particular garb of this priesthood.
It’s like you are rewriting the Bible. You now have competing interpretations of the same “text.” I mean hell, how many wars throughout the history of humankind have been fought over just this concept of heresies?
I mean, just the notion of the Divine Feminine in the Gnostic versions of the New Testament alone…you know how many people died over that, how many texts were destroyed and burned and broken and what have you?
We think history is “history”—is the past, is over. We think we’re too smart for that nonsense now. We think that such fervor and rage is back in the Dark Ages with the fundamentalists and the machete-wielding maniacs.
But that Divine Feminine thing never really got resolved—and, despite best efforts to do so, was never quite wiped out of the mass human consciousness, or even written history (see: the Dead Sea Scrolls).
So we’re still having these wars…these pseudo-religious pop-culture wars. Only, we’re a lot more civilized about it now. We don’t kill people over these “theological” disputes. We just try to metaphorically kill them, the way we do most things metaphorically through the bits and bytes of a digital world.
I’m happy for the little girls who gain new role models via this new Ghostbusters. But even if this particular priesthood was now pronounced “open” to me (complete with the blessing of Dan Akyroyd and Paramount), it’s never something that I myself could approach with fresh eyes. I could never fill Kristen Wiig’s Ghostbuster boots, for example, and feel like I finally “got my chance.”
Because you know, I approached the old Ghostbusters—the original holy text, the one that has been so vigorously defended by the True Believers—the way many other deeply religious women did in those days.
I became a priest anyway. But not a priestess. It is the Divine Feminine—Sophia—going underground, being painted as a male disciple in DaVinci’s most famous work.
My role-model ghostbusting priest will always be Peter Venkman. If Sigourney Weaver’s character gets lost and obscured within in the “plaster” demon-dog at the end of that movie, I am similarly lost within the smirk and smarm of Bill Murray’s movie persona, in his rumpled jumpsuit.
If the entire pop-cultural past of my youth gets revealed to be a horrid lie, a continual sexist affront to my very birth gender—then I have nothing left. I have nothing left, in the neo-theological sense, the sense in which our primal hunger for old-time religion gets satisfied by sci-fi TV shows and stacks upon stacks of comic books.
I don’t rage like the fanboys in the face of my religion’s thorns unveiled in a series of YouTube videos and buzzwordy think-pieces.
No, I just…I just play old clips and get lost. I get lost.
More to read about on Butterfly Language:
Ghosted: Bill Murray As The Walker Between The Worlds
Murray, Music, and Destiny
Slamming Into The Fourth Wall