The movie—my all-time favorite—came back to the big screen in October for its 35th anniversary. Like a maniac, I bought my ticket a month in advance, but I think I could have waited until after the movie started, because I was the only one in the theater. It ended up being a private screening of one of the pieces of art that I value most. I put my feet up and laughed like a dope, no loneliness detected.
I’d guess I’m in my 20th year as a Ghostbusters fan. After a conversation last month, I did some very important, high-tech (read: Wikipedia) investigative work to try to pinpoint exactly where the timeline started.
First, I know that I loved The Real Ghostbusters cartoon as a kid. It was a follow-up to the movie featuring some fun, kid-friendly changes. Slimer as a sidekick! Janine in a uniform! Egon’s hair! But it originally aired on from 1986 to 1991, which would put me at the ripe age of 1 when it ended. We finally discovered that it was syndicated on Fox Family from 1998 to 1999, when I was in third grade. This seems to check out.
However: The Real Ghostbusters also aired on the USA Network from 1991 to 1994. I do have Ghostbusters-related memories from my family’s old house on Chambers Street, which we moved out of sometime between 1994 and 1995. Could it be? Does this obsession date all the way back to preschool? Are there horse socks? Is anybody listening to me?
The point here is that I watched the cartoon sometime before fourth grade and then probably saw the movie after. I was hooked on both, and I still am. I still laugh like an idiot when Venkman inspects Dana’s apartment for the first time. I pepper lines into regular conversations often and without a second thought. I may or may not have dropped a “Listen—you smell something?” when the odor of tar and asphalt wafted through the office during a paving project while I was writing this column. Egon? Still my dream man. How could I possibly resist someone who tried to drill a hole in his own head, and who could not care less about affection?
So I’ve been fully onboard with the recent wave of Ghostbusters nostalgia. It seems to be everywhere—clothes, sock collaborations, screenings, Halloween decorations, costumes, toys that are intended for kids but will definitely be purchased by adults who have way too many action figures at their desks (I’m sure it goes without saying, but I am describing my own desk—the overarching theme is “pop culture nightmare”). This stuff is fun for me because I am, admittedly, a mark. I eat it up. I may not spend money on it, but I love to see it.
Not just for Ghostbusters, either. Nostalgia gets a bad rap, but I think it can be a good thing. I like clinging to the things that helped shape me. I like revisiting (over and over again) things from my childhood, even if the last time I “revisited” that thing was a week ago. The warm-fuzzies that accompany nostalgia feel like the only thing that can produce serotonin in my broken brain sometimes.
Nostalgia just feels good. It’s a nice reprieve from the stresses of adult life. I watched The Little Rascals (the 1994 movie) for the first time in several years last month, and it was the best feeling. It was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and into middle school, and then into high school. And then into college, when my roommates and I would pop the DVD in after a late night or during a tough study session.
The things we loved as kids (or things that we discovered later in life but associate with good times) can feel like an old security blanket. It’s obviously easier to reminisce about the first time I saw the binary sunset on Tatooine in Star Wars or playing Mikey’s speech at the bottom of the well in The Goonies on loop in my head than to think about what I’m going to make for dinner.
Maybe this is all unhealthy. Have I been using my favorite things from childhood as a crutch, or a desperate attempt to escape from the uncertainty of adulthood?
Or maybe I just have incredible taste and everything I loved as a kid is timeless and holds up because it’s objectively and incontrovertibly good. Let’s go with that.