The one truly creepy thing in Ghostbusters 14

Happy 30th birthday, Ghostbusters!

I saw the 30th anniversary rerelease of Ghostbusters last week and man, that movie is still freaking gold. It’s hilarious. Catch your chance to see it on the big screen while you can. I’d even go so far as to call Ghostbusters one of the formative movies of my life. It’s had a very definite effect on the development of my sense of humor, for sure. I watched it when I was still young enough to think the ghost in the library was the scariest thing in the world, but it was just. So. Funny. My whole family still quotes lines from it at each other. My older brother’s ambition was once to attain a coffee mug that said Back off man, I’m a scientist.

There’s one thing bothering me about it now, though: the way Venkman just creeps on Dana. Venkman basically makes it clear from moment one (“I’m going to go to Ms. Barrett’s apartment and check her out. I mean check it out.”) that he is trying to get up her skirt. Dana throws him out of her apartment, (“Mr. Venkman, would you please leave.”) and is very obviously not interested… at first. And then, inevitably, she ends up finding him charming as he refuses to go away and by the end of the movie Venkman basically assumes she’s his girlfriend and there’s no indication to the contrary.

I think it says a lot about the amazing timing Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver have that it’s all pretty darn funny and charming. And really, there’s a lot of creeping that goes on in that movie, to hilarious effect. Louis also creeps (very unsuccessfully) on Dana. Janine, frankly, creeps on Egon.

But Venkman gets the girl.

I mentioned how I felt icky about this to my housemate as we left the movie, and she said “Yeah, that didn’t age so well.” Except it’s not an age problem for Ghostbusters. The creeper model of relationship development is still a mainstay in film. I’d almost argue the average creepy relationship in movies has, if anything, only gotten creepier.

Ghostbusters was always like that. The movie didn’t change, I did, and now it just bothers me. Now I can’t help but think, Jesus, if someone was that resistant about leaving my house after I told them to go, they’d get pepper sprayed or put in an armlock. It’s not okay behavior. It’s creepy. And yeah, you can excuse a lot of this stuff as comedy. Except for this: I remember how I felt about this movie when I was a kid. I thought Dana and Venkman were super romantic (as super romantic as you can get in a comedy movie that involves a giant, evil, marshmallow man at least) and an amazing couple.

Confession: I was a total creeper, in high school. I basically tried to hang around guys (because I didn’t realize or admit girls were an actual option, not that I would have been less creepy at girls) and refused to go away under the belief that if I just stuck around long enough they would suddenly realize just how wrong they were to not want to kiss me. I even complained about how boys only wanted to date bitches instead of nice girls like me. No really.

Movies aren’t reality. I get that. They’re art. They’re commentary. They’re a reflection. They’re wish fulfillment. They’re a lot of things. Movies—stories—also have a lot more meaning than we like to admit. Stories instruct, and stick with us, and in ways we don’t necessarily realize. In reality, you do not obtain a significant other by refusing to go away until they decide that maybe they do like you. Relationships are not created by erosion.

So why do we keep telling ourselves stories where they are?

14 thoughts on “The one truly creepy thing in Ghostbusters

  1. Reply Paul Weimer Sep 12,2014 11:09

    Yeah…once you see and recognize that, you can’t unsee that.

  2. Reply Steve Sep 12,2014 11:14

    Watched this last Friday with my wife and sons (11, 10 and 4). His creeping on the student at the beginning too…

    Star Trek made it so I needed to talk to them about sexism, now this. I wish my dad had talked to me about that.

    • Reply Rachael Sep 12,2014 11:17

      Oh god, how did I not mention the creeping on the student THAT WAS SO GROSS. My new theory is that the university ejected him because there was a sexual harassment lawsuit pending. Just. Ugh. Ughughugh.

  3. Reply untiligettoseeyou Sep 12,2014 11:32

    I remember watching the movie some time last year and just thinking how icky that was. Venkman is over all an asshole, even if he’s a funny one.

  4. Reply Keeley Sep 12,2014 13:21

    Even as a kid I wasn’t a fan of Peter. I KNEW he was a creeper and I totally ignored him and Dana as a thing because he was my least favorite Ghostbuster. I loved Ray and Egon (crushed on Egon like crazy) and Winston was okay- but I really didn’t like Peter.

    • Reply Rachael Sep 15,2014 10:37

      It’s funny… Egon was my fave, Ray was all right, and I never really cared much about Winston when I was a kid. But now, damn but I love Winston.

  5. Reply JohnD Sep 15,2014 08:07

    I never really liked Ghostbusters; it just wasn’t my kink. My brother, on the other hand, named his van Staypuft.

    As for the creeping, that was (I think) part of what put me off. The hero is a total zero (no charm, no intelligence, no ability – just a wise-cracking jerk who happens to get lucky) and I prefer my protagonists to show a bit more moral fiber.

    And if you’d like to have another one of your childhood memories tarnished, here’s Chu’s takedown of (among other things) Revenge of the Nerds.

    • Reply Rachael Sep 15,2014 10:36

      You know, I’ve never actually watched Revenge of the Nerds…

      • Reply JohnD Sep 15,2014 13:07

        Well, if you can ignore the homophobia and the race jokes and the rape scene and the blatant stereotyping, it is a pretty good movie. The nerd rock show and the speech at the end of the movie about everyone being a nerd is spot on; I just wish we didn’t have to travel via the sewer to get there.

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  7. Reply bdaddyliberator Jul 16,2016 21:40

    Y’all are wrong about this. In fact, Venkman passes the girl’s shit test. That he doesn’t leave proves his worth. Then she loves him. All is explained at Chateau Heartiste.

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