In this week’s podcast, we talk about Ghostbusters, the original movie.  There is a lot that we will eventually be looking into with this movie and with the whole Ghostbusters franchise. But today, we are specifically looking at the four different viewpoints that the main characters (Venkman, Spengler, Stanz, Zeddemore) of the supernatural world.

The world of Ghostbusters presents a New York that goes from doubting the existence of the supernatural 1  to getting “gripped with ghost fever” once the very discreet Sedgewick Hotel bust gets on the nightly news.  Something like that does not happen unless there was already a sentiment brewing beneath the surface.  It seems that even in the Ghostbusters’ universe the truth is shouted down in favor of lies or a least met with complete scepticism. Rather than accept the supernatural is possible, denizens of the world of Ghostbusters give a physical explanation for a supernatural event.  We see most in the character of Walter Peck, who goes so far as to accuse the Ghostbusters of using nerve gas to dupe their customers.  It’s also apparent in more minor characters as well. “Some moron brought a cougar to a party and it went berserk” 2, says a cop trying to explain Vinz Clortho jumping past the doorman of 55 Central Park West. The result of years of people keeping down the idea that anything supernatural exists brings about a delusion that there is no way it could exist.

This; however, is not the view of the main characters. Venkman views belief in the supernatural as something to profit from. He is ultimately a charlatan. The first scene shows this. His “Effects of Negative Reinforcement on ESP Ability” study is really just a ploy to get a girl. His view changes throughout the movie though, and by the end he truly believes and is ready to sacrifice his life.

Ray Stanz is a true believer. He takes everything that is deemed supernatural as fact. This is sometimes taken way overboard. “I was present at an undersea, unexplained mass sponge migration.” “Ray the sponges migrated about a foot-and-a-half”3. Ray looks for everything to be a confirmation of what he already believes.

Spengler comes at everything from scientific method. . His constant desire to collect samples to his hooking Dana Barrett to a lie detector show that he wants to test everything before he’s willing to commit to it. For Egon there isn’t a difference between the supernatural (faith) and science; science is there to confirm the supernatural 4. In a way, Spengler is like the Berean Jews that Paul commends. “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”5.

Zeddemore brings the most real perspective of the group. He is willing to check it out at the beginning as long he is getting something out of it. He is also the only one of the group to acknowledge Jesus. When they are questioned by the mayor, he is the only one who isn’t throwing insults or giving theories, but rather tells what he’s seen.

Each of these characters represents a different approach to belief. Each has its own strengths and challenges. We hope that post is something more than just a look into an awesome movie, but that it challenges you to look at your own beliefs and ask why you believe what you do.

Winston Zeddemore: Hey Ray. Do you believe in God?

Ray Stantz: Never met him.

Winston Zeddemore: Yeah, well, I do. And I love Jesus’s style, you know.

  1. Ray and Egon seem to be outcasts. 
  2. Ghostbusters. Prod. Ivan Reitman. Dir. Ivan Reitman. 1984. DVD 
  3. Ghostbusters. Prod. Ivan Reitman. Dir. Ivan Reitman. 1984. DVD 
  4. The “war” of faith vs. science is not meant to be a war at all.  Christians are often guilty of only bringing up science when it suits their faith just as much as scientists use science to try disproving the tenets of faith in anything. The quest for truth is ultimately what both sides should be concentrating on. 
  5. Acts 17:11