'Ghostbusters', drive-ins and marching forward together
BUTLER, Pennsylvania -- Last Monday was supposed to be a celebration, a coming together across the ages and across the country to mark the day "Ghostbusters" debuted in 1984, a film that made movie executives cringe but won the hearts of moviegoers. The film was going to be shown at drive-in theaters from coast to coast.
John Mason, owner of Starlight Drive-in Theater, said he was thrilled to be part of the first simultaneous showing of the iconic film in drive-ins. To get into the spirit and add some kitsch to the local version of the nationwide event, he even booked a local group that was going to come out in full ghostbusting gear.
"They even had their own Ecto ambulance," Mason boasted of the iconic 1959 Cadillac. The vivid scene in which the firehouse doors burst open and the ECTO-1 license plate flashes across the screen remains a fan favorite.
All that changed when the official Ghostbusters Facebook page announced the event had been canceled, with hopes of rescheduling. The page said, "it does not feel like the time for celebration right now," a reference to the protests across the country in reaction to the death of George Floyd in police custody.
After three months of isolation; job losses; illness; and death under the vengeful eye of a pandemic that collapsed a robust economy, stole lives not fully lived and robbed people of the dignity of work, people were already on the brink of emotional collapse when Floyd was killed.
The riots that followed and caused destruction to families and communities in the way of their wrath have left us exhausted and looking for small bits of solace and hope, or just silly fun to escape the fire, like going to the drive-in with your family or friends.
Canceling that event or any other community event just as people are allowed to go out and start living their lives might not be the best way to help us heal, Tom Maraffa, professor emeritus at Youngstown State University, argued.
"We can both grieve from the effects of the pandemic, support the protests and still go to a drive-in movie," he said.
He pointed to the space launch two weeks ago as one of those moments, when millions of people gathered in front of their televisions with their spouses, children, grandchildren and neighbors, or stopped what they were doing and pulled the event up on their phone.
"The public loves to be part of something bigger than themselves, whether it's a space launch or everybody watching a goofy movie from the '80s together," said Maraffa.