Bustin’ and Rebustin’

Conveniently for me, the title of this week’s post works equally well for two different pop culture events that occurred in the last couple of weeks. 

The first event was the release of a trailer for the new Ghostbusters film (If you haven’t seen it yet, CHECK IT OUT HERE).  Considering that the film is scheduled for release on July 15th, this seemed oddly late to just be getting the first trailer.  Maybe they were waiting for special effects shots.  I have no idea.  But this trailer was anticipated for several reasons, the most ridiculous (at least to me) of which was the “controversy” about the cast.  They’re women.  Shocking, I know.  The gender that makes up just over half the planet is starring in a movie.

The film is also remaking/rebooting one of the best loved films of the 1980s.  Now that is some treacherous territory, and the place where I felt that the trailer failed.  In its opening moments, the trailer talks about how 30 years ago, four scientists (Well…three and a guy who needed a job) saved New York and shows the iconic firehouse from the original film.  All of this makes the new film feel like it will be a sequel/continuation.  But from there the trailer quickly makes it clear that it’s not.  Instead we have a New York where ghosts are being seen for the first time and the 1980s Ghostbusters never did their thing.  Is this a big deal?  Probably not.  I’m may just be nitpicking.  Still the callback seems unnecessary in the context of this film.

The big question, though, is how does the film look?  And…it’s fine.  I know that’s not a glowing review, but I can’t say that the trailer got me super excited or completely turned me off.  I could have gone for more character humor and less of the slapstick, but maybe that will be in the next trailer.  The ghosts themselves look great.  I’ve seen a couple of comments that this movie actually seems closer in its visual style to The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series, which I am completely fine with. 

I’m trying very hard to take this film completely on its own and not bring in my fondness for the original.  From that perspective, if I were to see this trailer with absolutely no previous experience with Ghostbusters, would I be interested?  I think I would, but, at this point, it would be because of the visuals.  I need more to go on.  How soon until we get a second trailer?

The second bit of bustin’ news from the week involved myths rather than ghosts.  The Discovery Channel series, Mythbusters, aired its final episode after 13 years.  Much has been said other places about the legacy of the series, particularly in the areas of encouraging critical thinking and showing people that scientific experimentation can be done by anyone with a desire for knowledge.

For me, the best part of the show was the process.  Yes, I love a good explosion as much as the next person and I enjoyed the hosts (Particularly Adam Savage, Kari Byron, and Grant Imahara), but every single week Mythbusters was a lesson in the scientific method.  Start with a hypothesis (or myth in their case), figure out a way to test it, run the tests, gather data, and reach a conclusion about the validity of the original hypothesis based on said data. 

And perhaps the most important aspect of the process was their willingness to go back and redo their work.  The show had a very active fan forum, and periodically the series would make episodes where they retested myths based on feedback from the fans.  Yes, in this age where people seem to be more and more strident in their beliefs and their absolute refusal to accept even the slightest possibility that they might not have all of the facts or that new evidence can come to light, the Mythbusters took the courageous step of admitting when they were wrong.

If I could choose a legacy for Mythbusters, it would be for that idea to spread.  Yes, of course I want to see more people become interested in science and increase our knowledge.  But right now it seems like we have even more of a need for people to learn to take things critically, weigh actual evidence and facts, and then make a conclusion based on that evidence.  And, should new evidence come to light, reevaluate the original conclusion and possibly even come to a different one. 

During an episode of Mythbusters several years ago, Adam Savage joked, “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”  While the phrase has become a favorite among Mythbusters fans and adorns many a t-shirt, it is not an ethos Adam or the fans would endorse for approaching the world.  There is a reality, we can test it, and we must learn from it.  Because rejecting reality only works for so long.  Eventually, it’s going to catch up to you and show you just how wrong you are.

- Alan Decker

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