It’s a quick and simple process: go into hotel, destroy ballroom, capture ugly little spud, emerge from hotel, become rock stars with fans that chase you around New York City chanting the name of your company and selling t-shirts with your logo. Pretty quick route to becoming a superstar that’s beloved by the general public, right? But what if an enterprise like the Ghostbusters actually existed in real life, present day? Would they be treated like the rock stars we see in the movies, or would they be treated like any other public service?
These are the things that I tax myself with when I can’t sleep at night, and depending on how you look at it – it’s either incredibly profound or incredibly sad. But bear with me for a moment while I take you through my thought process, because I have a feeling that if Ghostbusters were a real Yellow Pages business here in the so-called “real world,” they might not receive the same reception that they get in the movies. And even more shockingly, I think the public might have a similar reaction to (gasp), Mr. Walter Peck.
Let’s start by breaking it down. Ghostbusters fundamentally exists because of a belief in the supernatural. And, while the widespread belief in organized religion certainly needs no argument, I’d imagine there are quite a few skeptics in the belief of the paranormal out there. Come on, be honest: how many of you have watched a couple of the Dan Aykroyd hosted specials on paranormal and extraterrestrial activities and said to yourself, “No way?” So immediately, the Real World Ghostbusters that exists in the tired and alcohol destroyed brain of Troy Benjamin has quite an obstacle to overcome.
For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll say that ghosts do exist and a real company has found a way to actually track and contain them. Once we’ve come to the conclusion that they exist, they infest your house, they’re a total nuisance and ruin all of your possessions (pun, somewhat intended), they scare the bejeezus out of you, and you yourself have no means of ridding your house of the infestation, who are you going to call? Well, when you have mice, termites, or any other pest you usually call the Orkin man. Right? Do large masses of people follow the Orkin man around selling t-shirts with his logo on it and chanting in unison, “Orkin, Orkin, Orkin, Orkin!” Most likely not. And if so, that would be pretty awesome to see.
I have a feeling that you, as the consumer, would be relieved to have the Ghostbusters arrive to take care of your problem (you might not be so relieved when you see their excessively expensive bill). But given the circumstances and the real world parallels, I don’t think you would necessarily idolize these guys. After all, they have incredibly destructive equipment; one would also imagine they’re covered in ectoplasm that doesn’t necessarily carry all that attractive of an odor. Think about it, when your Waste Management facilitator shows up at your door and takes out the garbage, if you’re Dana Barrett are you in any hurry to plant one on the dude’s kisser? I bet you’re telling him to hop in the shower before you head anywhere near him.
Okay Troy, you’ve got me convinced but there’s this little thing that the Ghostbusters do that you’re leaving out of this equation: they save the world and they put on one helluva light show as they do it (so what if they conjure up a couple hundred foot Marshmallow Men that crush whole city blocks?). Well, you have me there. However the cheesy and perhaps a little sentimental answer is that garbage collectors, exterminators, firemen, all of these public service members are saving the world in their own way. Garbage collectors are preventing the world from turning into the Earth seen in Wall-E (kind of), exterminators are saving us from another plague being spread (what’s the Swine Flu?), firemen and police officers it goes completely without saying. So how come masses don’t gather at four alarm fires and chant, “Ladder 6, Ladder 6, Ladder 6?” Again, I’ve never seen it but if it actually happens out there, I’d love to.
I know I’m completely ruining all the fun of the films by grounding them too much in a reality that, in all honesty – I love to escape in the form of film going in the first place. And surely, the best argument against me is that I have yet to meet a team of Orkin men that are as charismatic and entertaining as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson.
But don’t you just wonder? If Ghostbusters really existed and was available for me to truly call, how would I react?
(The Private Sector is a weekly syndicated column written by Troy Benjamin presented every Wednesday on Ghostbusters.net, GB Fans, and Proton Charging as an op-ed look at the goings on in the world of the Ghostbusters franchise. Learn more about Troy at www.troybenjamin.com)