I love a lot of movies, most of which have good or great endings. The libertarian classic Ghostbusters has a great ending, for children of all ages and also for opponents of the state. In this film, the public sector is maligned constantly and free enterprise celebrated, culminating in the market’s victory over the paranormal forces threatening all humanity. First, some background:When the brilliant but unproductive scientists lose their government grants they have this glorious exchange:
STANTZ: “I liked the University. They gave us money, they gave us the facilities and we didn’t have to produce anything! I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results. You’ve never been out of college. You don’t know what it’s like out there.”
VENKMAN: “Let me tell you, Ray, everything in life happens for a reason. Call it fate, call it luck, Karma, whatever. I think we were destined to get kicked out of there.”
STANTZ: “For what purpose?”
VENKMAN: “To go into business for ourselves.”
Has there ever been a more heroic exchange on screen? The scientists do go into business, fighting ghosts, making productive, private use of a condemned government fire station. Everything is going well. Capitalism is beating the ghosts. That is, until an EPA official comes along. Despite the pleas of the private property owners –– reminiscent of Hooker Chemical‘s pleas that went unanswered, resulting in the Love Canal disaster —– the EPA pinhead shuts down their ectoplasmic containment system, sending all the captured apparitions up into the New York sky.
The city jails our heroes. But the mayor, the cops, the federal government are all helpless to deal with the crisis. Finally, they let out the Ghostbusters, who defeat the evil spirit Gozer and destroy the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with their unregistered, illegal proton accelerators. Ghostbuster Peter Venkman gets the girl and the city and humanity are saved in a spectacular Hollywood ending that, unlike typical Hollywood, frames the public sector –– and the EPA! –– as the bad guys. As we learn in the sequel, the government repays them with legal action for making a mess of the city.
Of course, had FEMA been sent there to deal with the crisis, Mr. Stay Puft would still be terrorizing Manhattan –– assuming Gozer, Zuul and Vinz Clortho hadn’t yet brought about the apocalypse.7:23 pm on July 11, 2008 Email Anthony Gregory