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Las Movies: Ghostbusters (1989) and Its Libertarian Message

Las Movies: Los Cazafantasmas (1989) y su mensaje procapitalista

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In the last episode of this season of Las Movies, the space that El American dedicates to analyzing the world of culture and entertainment, Ignacio M. García Medina talks about the 1989 comedy classic Ghostbusters, produced and directed by Ivan Reitman, although he also touches on some points about the 2016 version and the sequel that is still close to release.

Although it was a hit-and-run production, full of obstacles that almost cost it its release, the film was a resounding box-office success and is one of the milestones in the history of commercial cinema. It began as a personal project of Dan Aykroyd, who in addition to being one of the protagonists was the main screenwriter, and the original plan was for the plot to take place in space and for the production to include Eddie Murphy and John Belushi.

Ultimately, to cut production and filming costs, Reitman and the crew decided to bring their heroes to Earth and set them in New York City. In addition, after Belushi’s tragic death and Murphy’s stardom, the cast and the plot underwent their final modifications until reaching the final version we all know.

Promoting small business

One of the aspects that Ignacio highlights as key to the success of Ghostbusters is that its protagonists were university professors and not superheroes, military or special government agents, as it used to be in films about paranormal events. This time, they are “a group of entrepreneurs” who “were used to grants, scholarships and not working very hard.”

When they are fired from college (after their first paranormal encounter in the library) and faced with a “ghost crisis” in New York, they decide to take up ghost hunting as a business “with a lot of illusion, enthusiasm and effort.”

In addition to a couple of jokes about the benefits of working in the private sector and the contrast with the education system, the plot of Ghostbusters points to a particular villain: a state official who takes it upon himself to regulate the business with fines, legal threats and absurd laws. “That’s the real villain of the film: the government represented in an official,” Ignacio tells us.

This story of effort and self-improvement that can be seen in the film’s plot also took place in the development of its production. Ignacio tells us that the team of producers had to work very hard and face many obstacles to get the work off the ground, but in the end they managed to make it a success.

“It is a demonstration that the free market is the best way to solve problems,” says García Medina. “Even a plague of ghosts would be better solved by private initiative than by public officials.”

The fiasco of Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

Precisely the secret of the success of the original 1989 version (besides its subtle pro-capitalist message and against state interventionism) is probably the same reason for the failure of the 2016 “feminist” remake.

In the original film, Sigourney Weaver plays a possession victim who also has a romantic interest in the lead role played by Bill Murray. Weaver’s is perhaps one of the defining roles in the development of the plot, and her character is arguably crucial to the plot. However, this is forgotten when it comes to trashing the original script as an excuse for a remake.

“Maybe this pro-capitalist message is what really bothered about this film,” says Ignacio. “As always, in these types of feminist versions, they are not satisfied with including women or that there is equality,” he adds, arguing that Sigourney Weaver’s character is “ignored” in the recent reboot.

The 2016 remake was dedicated to “destroying the legacy” of the original characters and ridiculing the message sent by Reitman’s ’89 creation. Perhaps in response to this, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (expected to be released in November this year) promises to rescue the mission of the first ghost hunters and revive the excitement that the classic left in the fans.

Don’t miss this and previous installments of Las Movies, hosted by Ignacio García Medina. You can find all the episodes on our YouTube channel. In a few weeks Las Movies will be back its second season.

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