When I was about eight or nine years old, I had a burgeoning friendship with a little Chinese girl that lived in my apartment complex. Her mother was the live-in apartment manager. When my mother was at work, we would get locked out of our apartment a lot and so we’d have to go knock on their door to be let in.
Truthfully, I don’t know if my good friend–whose name I seem to forget–was Chinese. In the late eighties in Mississippi, we thought Asia and China were the same thing. There was North China, Other China, and New China. But it was all China.
And, no I didn’t ask her about her background. She didn’t speak English very well. She had about five to six words down and we had to act out the rest.
Also, this little girl was about three years younger than me. Three years is nothing now but at that age, she was practically a fetus compared to an ancient nine year old. I’d lived. I’d seen the world. I could ride a bike without training wheels.
So let’s recap what I just told you: I was good friends with someone who I was too old to be friends with. She and I did not speak the same language. In fact, I didn’t even bother to find out what country she was actually from. So what was holding together this relationship, you ask?
A VHS tape of Ghostbusters.
I really, really liked that movie. And this was before Netflix and On-Demand. If you wanted to watch something over and over again, you either bought the VHS tape or you taped it while it was on TV. So the fact that this little girl basically had 24-hour access to this movie made her the ideal friend for me.
I would go over her apartment and play for a few minutes with her baby toys and then casually say “Hey, do you want to watch Ghostbusters?” That’s right, I’d invite her to play her own damn tape.
Fortunately, Ghostbusters was one of the five words we knew in common. She would put in the tape and we’d watch quietly as Slimer slimed and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man demolished New York. And then I’d go home.
Don’t Be Walter Peck
I really, really love the original Ghostbusters movie. I’ve watched all of the sequels. I’ve watched most of the Ghostbusters cartoons. And I’ll probably go see the new Ghostbusters movie this weekend. At the time I’m writing this, the new movie isn’t even out yet but everyone already hates it. I don’t get it. I like Melissa McCarthy just fine. Kristen Wiig is generally funny. And I don’t hate Leslie Jones the way so many of you seem to. I’m not saying it will be a great movie. I just don’t understand why we have to hate it before we’ve seen it.
I’m at the age when the world is mining my youth for new movies. I’m not here to argue about whether new movies are better than old ones. That’s really not the point. But I am kinda tired of hearing my peers complaining about the existence of remakes or reboots at all.
Remakes are not new. It’s what the movie business does. Some remakes are amazing. There’s no way I would have ever been exposed to the original Cape Fear. It was made 20 years before I was born and in black and white. But I connected with the remake and it’s one of my favorite movies. And how many times have I watched Batman’s parents die? A million times! They reboot superhero movies every six to ten years and no one complains. If a new cast, writer, and director can bring something new to the material, what’s the real problem?
You know those new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies that are making a billion dollars every few years? I can’t watch them. They don’t mesh with my memories of TMNT as a kid. I didn’t watch the remake of Footloose, either. And that Karate Kid remake with Jayden Smith? Someone offered me a free advanced ticket when it came out. I declined. That’s right, I declined to see it for free.
But those remakes didn’t actually take anything from me. I can still watch my originals if I think they are better. I didn’t actually lose anything because someone made a reboot of a movie for a new audience. I don’t need to be upset or protest anything. No one did anything to me.
Those movies weren’t made for me. Those movies were for people who don’t have any attachment to the old ones. Who am I to deny a kid the joy of My Little Pony just because they weren’t old enough (or even born yet) to enjoy it the first go round?
You guys do what you want but I refuse to be the Walter Peck of the movie, hating on something just because I don’t understand it or I’m not in control of it.
You know, it’s interesting that the entire movie the Ghostbusters were really careful not to cross streams. It was practically a commandment. And in the end, the only way to win was to do the one thing they’d been told was taboo. There’s a lesson somewhere in that.