It isn’t even half over yet but 2016 is already shaping up to be the most dehumanizing year I’ve lived through since 2015. Trust in the establishment is at an all-time low, our leading Presidential candidates are both universally despised, rapists are allowed to walk free as long as they look like chorus dancers from American Psycho: The Musical, the climate situation doesn’t appear to be getting any better thanks to the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill that nobody cares about, and yet more of our childhood heroes are either falling from grace or dropping dead entirely–and then falling from grace in a few cases.
But no single issue has the nation more brutally divided than the upcoming release of the most controversial motion picture in the history of motion picture arts and sciences. Of course, I’m talking about the latest opus from enfant terrible Paul Feig, his modern reimagining of the only film that was ever released in the 1980s, Ghostbusters.
You may have noticed the red flags flying at full mast while you were hanging around with your boyfriend at that trendy steampunk hipster bar during their latest Sunday night screening of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. So do you remember that drunken rant about the third motion picture in the enduring and illustrious Ghostbusters saga? Well, it seems that your man-child boyfriend isn’t the only silly person whose dreams have been shattered by a children’s film that nobody has seen yet.
Recently, former internet celebrity James Rolfe (aka the Angry Video Game Nerd) released an incendiary YouTube video called “Ghostbusters 2016. No Review. I refuse”. Frankly, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that people still watched the Angry Video Game Nerd. Okay, it’s hardly news that an entitled nerd logged onto the internet to announce a stupid boycott over something as unimportant as a movie. What caught my attention, however, was the number of people who considered Mr. Rolfe’s treatise offensive. Because I can never resist a brand new edition of Outrage of The Week, I had to find out what the pioneering media mogul and revolutionary digital theorist James Rolfe — very much the Sergei Eisenstein meets Steve Jobs of Nitpicking on the Internet for Money — had to say about a film I genuinely don’t give a shit about.
So I watched it.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember what he said and I don’t feel like watching it again. But if he did say anything offensive, I must have missed it. To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention to this low-rent TED talk. Actually I was mainly thinking to myself, How old is this man? Why does he care so much? Why did he even need to make this video? Why do I even know that this video exists? Why am I watching this again? Did my student loan payments go through yet? Are they ever going to get back to me about that job offer? Did Sean Connery really wanna make Zardoz?
As it happens, Mr. Rolfe (pictured above in his natural habitat) and I have one thing in common. I don’t want to see the new Ghostbusters picture either. Why, you don’t ask? Because I’m not interested. I didn’t like the trailer and it didn’t make me laugh. Beyond that, I’m not sure if there’s anything left to discuss. Either go see the movie or don’t. If you’re looking forward to it, great; I hope you have a blast. If you’re not looking forward it, well, sorry?
You can complain about the new Ghostbusters all you want, but like the forthcoming coronation of Hillary Thatcher, it’s happening whether you like it or not. When you have kids of your own, you can show them the original and relive the pleasure of experiencing the magic and the humor through their eyes. In fact, you don’t even have to wait to lose your virginity because you can watch it right now. Nobody is going to grab the 22nd Anniversary Special Deluxe Double-Down Super-Size Trump Steak 4K Edition Blu-Ray from your cold dead hands–relax. You are more than welcome to stop reading in the middle of this sentence, go into the other room, and watch…well not so much watch Ghostbusters as have it on in the background while you repeatedly tweet about how the remake is going to rape your childhood, apparently.
They didn’t make this new Ghostbusters for me and they didn’t make it for you either. They made the film for these newer audiences that marketing executives typically refer to as children. Now here’s the thing about children, my faithful readers, and forgive me for being the bearer of bad tidings here: Children don’t care about Rick Moranis all that much. But this begs the question: Why are all these grown men getting so angry and upset about a film that clearly isn’t aimed at them? Why does anybody my age have even the slightest inkling to spend fifteen dollars on movies aimed at ten-year-olds? It irritates me enough that my girlfriend would rather watch The Rescuers Down Under tonight than Apocalypse Now (The short version, obviously, I’m not a monster.) Also, I’m turning 28 years old in less than a week (fucking hell). Before I know it, I’ll be doing a little bit of procreating and then within the blink of an eye I’ll have ten children running around my living room like psychopaths. So no, actually. I still haven’t seen Inside Out or Zootopia or Charlie Brown 75 because I’m going to have to watch them about a thousand times when I become a dad. Basically, I’ll never be allowed to watch any of my favorite films again until I’m 50, divorced, and living alone in the only affordable Motel 6 still above sea level trying to make my alimony payments by fiddling with the old chap on Chaturbate. So fuck off with your Pixar and your Star Wars and your enjoyable family-friendly entertainment and let me watch the director’s cut of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac in peace.
Now at this point in the writing process, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen the original Ghostbusters in a while. So I decided to take the afternoon off, ignore all my responsibilities, and watch it. See I recently wrote a review for High-Rise that nobody read, and I wanted to take another stab at earnest film criticism without relying too heavily on an ironic comedy persona that I’ve never explained to anybody. But rather than simply review Ghostbusters, I thought I’d raise my game by picking a random scene to analyze and dissect for your enlightenment and cinematic edification. This, my faithful readers, is how I will finally put my irrelevant Film Studies & Production degree to good use. Here we go.
This is for you, James Rolfe!
ANATOMY OF A SCENE: LES GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), UN FILM D’IVAN REITMAN
Today on Anatomy of a Scene, noted film essayist and scholar Noah Redfield will discuss a pivotal sequence in Ivan Reitman’s Palme D’Or-winning supernatural tone poem, Ghostbusters. Watch the scene below, and scroll down further to read Mr. Redfield’s painstaking analysis. Your comments are not welcome.
We start with a wide shot. Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) stands to the left of Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan “I do believe in crystal skulls” Aykroyd.) Between them in the background is a police officer. Here, Reitman establishes one of the picture’s most important motifs: the notion of geometry in life. Is geometry natural or supernatural? These are the big questions, folks. Notice how Venkman and Stantz stand opposite each other, not unlike the base of an isosceles triangle. Why isosceles and not equilateral, you ask? Well, look again at the placement of the police officer. Now do you see? The two Ghostbusters in the foreground represent unity, as in the two equal sides and angles of an isosceles triangle, whereas the police officer standing at the top of the triangle represents the all-seeing eye of the law. A comment on the strength of vigilantism in numbers, perhaps? Let’s continue.
We abruptly cut to the master shot. The Obligatory Prick (that guy who always played the Obligatory Prick in the 1980s) admonishes the Ghostbusters without directly facing any of them. This meticulous blocking within the mise-en-scène indicates that Obligatory Prick does not like the Ghostbusters very much. Instead, Obligatory Prick is registering his complaints with the Mayor (David Margulies, clearly a graduate of the Lee Strasberg School of Method Acting.)
We see that the Ghostbusters are literally trapped between these two authority figures in an image that clearly owes a debt to Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington . At this point, Reitman reinforces conventional narrative editing by cutting to medium shots of Obligatory Prick and the Mayor, respectively. These two images, when juxtaposed, seem to affirm Reitman’s continual reliance on the Kuleshov Effect in order to make the emotions of the characters seem more palatable to the audience. Reitman has never been one for the sort of Brechtian alienation device one might find in the filmmaking of Michael Haneke, for example. He wants the viewer to give in to the illusion of four renegade scientists who, for a living, bust ghosts.
After Obligatory Prick accuses the Ghostbusters of inducing hallucinations before subjecting victims to a disorienting light show — a subtle yet obvious reference to the notorious CIA mind control project MKUltra — we return to the establishing isosceles triangle formation at the start of the scene. The tension is immediately undercut when we see Venkman break into a wry chuckle while Stantz rebuts Obligatory Prick, even going as far as to suggest that the gentleman in question does not possess a penis. In one of the more masterful cuts in 1980s Hollywood cinema, we return to Obligatory Prick, who loudly ejaculates that the Ghostbusters caused an explosion. A close-up of the Mayor. “Is this true,” asks the Mayor. A close-up of Venkman. “Yes it’s true,” replies Venkman. “This man has no dick.” And you don’t need to be Laura Mulvey to work that one out, right? Huh? Am I right, cinephiles? Huh? Freud? Mulvey? Peeping Tom? Guys I made a Laura Mulvey joke. If you got it you would have laughed, you see. Check the back of your Criterions OH FUCK THIS.
A remake nobody asked for is coming out for the ten millionth time and now you’re throwing a tantrum about it? Where were you when the Americans took Jean-Luc Godard’s groundbreaking À bout de souffle and turned it into Breathless starring Richard Gere in plaid trousers? Where were you when they remade Ben-Hur into Ben-Hur, and then remade that into Ben-Hur? And where were you when Neil LaBute and Nicolas Cage somehow managed to fuck up The Wicker Man? Oh, that’s right. You bloody heathens turned it into a meme and encouraged Nic Cage to remake Bad Lieutenant, didn’t you? Didn’t you!?
Okay, Bad Lieutenant was good. Other than that, fuck off. Fuck all of you, I hate Ghostbusters now. I am denying myself the pleasures of Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters for life, and I’m doing it to prove a point, and I want everyone in the world to read this because it’s important that everybody knows exactly what my opinion is about the new Ghostbusters movie. In fact, I hope those pigfuckers at Hollywood go even further. I want to see Tyler Perry’s Back to the Future greenlit just so I can see some exploding head selfies on Instagram. I know at least one person who would cry and probably have a nervous breakdown if a Hocus Pocus reboot came out, so I’m going to start praying nightly to Kubrick that an all-male Hocus Pocus reboot courtesy of Zack Snyder is in the works right now. I want to see remakes of all eight of the Harry Potter movies, all consisting entirely of Ray Winstone listening to tapes of himself reading the Harry Potter books while he argues with contractors who are renovating his house. It’s time you regular nerds knew the pain that we film nerds feel every single day of our rotten, meaningless lives. I’m going to watch Hollywood burn to the ground and I’m going to savor every crackle of those flames. Try and stop me, maggots. This time…I win.
Is it already eleven? Christ, I haven’t showered or done anything yet. What am I even writing about anymore?
I gotta get some work done. Actually, I gotta get some work come to think of it.
I like a few movies…