Are The Ghostbusters Con Men? - Op-Ed Piece


Are The Ghostbusters Con Men? - Op-Ed Piece


The Ghostbuster movie is one of my favorite movies of all time.

It is one of those movies that I will stop what I am doing and watch it when I see it on.

Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed the film.

From the funny guys in the movie saying lines that I still quote, the idea of ghosts that still intrigues me, and the strange yet practical gadgets used throughout.


I like the movie, and it is still one that I think of til this day.


I frankly have a hard time coming up with a story of ghosts without thinking of Ghostbusters in the draft.


There is something about the classic feature that, as I got older, doesn’t sit well with me.

Like a bad burrito from Taco Bell, I am left with an uneasy feeling in my stomach.

I should have gotten a taco, and I now I am paying the price.

My uneasiness from the film upon reflection of its properties and components is simple;

They could be conning people.

I mean, the whole ghost-busting company that they set up could be a fraud.


I know. I know. We all love the movie, we all love Bill Murray, and we don’t mind hearing that damn song again once Halloween comes by,


But what if you really thought that they were lying to the customers?

It was a lights show designed to distract any witnesses.

It was all a con set up to pretend to be about the phantoms.

It was all a scheme to get unsuspecting people to pay for a service they could not rebuke or file claims against.


Boy, the movie looks a lot differently all of a sudden from that vantage point.

It’s like in Assassin’s Creed when you reach the top of a tower and see the whole city.

You didn’t know that there were so many crates and that there were that many missions left, and now you are starting to regret even looking around the city.

All just to drop in some hay in style.

Thank Ezio.


But I digress…


I don’t think that I am far off with this theory that the Ghostbusters never actually catch ghosts.


Let’s go through the film.


First off, the main human villain is a jackass and rude to them, but…

Well, he isn’t wrong with being skeptical of them.


We would all think they were scam artists, too, preying on the fears of people who don’t understand the problems of their home.


They go into stranger’s homes wearing deadly weapons, perform a lights show, cause property damage, and then tell the confused residents they fixed the ghost problem.

And the customers won’t be able to say much to them because who the hell knows anything about ghost-busting technology?

What are the customers going to say to the Ghostbusters exactly?

“You are not using the most up-to-date equipment.

Your tactics are old-fashioned.

I don’t like how you caught the ghost.”


What does anyone know about ghost-busting?

Not much, which is why it is such a great con.

Customers can’t complain if they don’t know what you are actually doing.

It’s like going to a mechanic when you are not knowledgeable about cars.

He starts saying that my car needs work in the back, and then the tires need a little help, and there is something else that he wants to look at.

I don’t know what he is talking about.

I came in for an inspection.

I do know that my bill was much higher than I expected.

And you know what; he knew that I was naïve and that I wouldn’t know what he was talking about.

I don’t know if I got a good deal or not because I don’t know what the process even entails.


Why should we assume that the Ghostbusters have the customers in mind?

Why wouldn’t the four of them, three of which are scientists, understand to a certain extent that the ghost busting service they give people is one that very little know of.

They could name their price for their service, and the customer would have to accept it.

The customer can’t say that is too much for that, cause they don’t know.


I have seen real shows with ghosts, and I am sure that you have too, where there are people who do the same thing that the Ghostbusters do.

They don’t have the audacity to say they are catching ghosts, though. They are happy just finding one.

I gotta say after watching those episodes, there isn’t that much convincing evidence to show that ghosts are real.


There is a creak in an empty room.

Someone from fifty years ago told someone who told someone who told someone that they once thought they saw a ghost in the yard.

A strange sound that no one can explain.


I always walk away from those shows thinking that the ghost was as much in the person’s head as they were in the house.


They wanted a ghost, so they got one.


The creak is a young dead girl playing in the next room.

The story is a tale that many know, so it must be true.

The sound is the ghost talking to the visitors.


Remember, in the early part of the film; the Ghostbusters take out a bunch of money for this ghost-busting business.

They need it to work.

They need to make money off of it, or they are going to be in big trouble.

They need to find ghosts, even if there are no ghosts.


There are two guys who I think are responsible for the con.

I’m going by the actor’s names since that is what everyone knows them by anyway.

Harold Ramis and Bill Murray are in on the fraudulent behavior of the company., No, not Dan Akyroyd.


Aykroyd’s character thinks it is all real. He is the one of the group that is the most passionate about ghosts. He wants them to be real, so why would he con anyone?

In fact, of all of them, he is the one that wants to get the photo of the ghost or get a voice recording of a phantom.

And no, I don’t think it is a coincidence that the money for the company is all taken out in the name of the guy who is the most involved with the concept.

He is the most gullible.

He would put it all on the line since he firmly believes in the product.

When dealing with customers, he will talk a good game because he thinks that they were really dealing with ghosts.


Harold Ramis is the smart one in the group, the nerd if you will, so for him to hatch a scheme up isn’t that crazy. He could outsmart Aykroyd.

Many times in the film, it is Ramis that knows facts that no one in the rest of the group would know.


I also say that Murray has to think the whole business is a sham, which is why he is making wiseass remarks the entire time.

It is all a stupid joke to him.

Ghosts aren’t real.

This is an easy way to make money for the guy.

Go into a stranger’s house. Throw a few pieces of furniture around, and then say it was a ghost.

Easy money for Murray.


You could say that Ramis is tricking Aykroyd, and Murray either doesn’t want to confront him on the con or is in on it as well.

Does Murray really seem all that worried about Aykroyd during the film? Or for anyone besides himself?

No. So he goes along with it, as long as he gets his due when the time comes. (which strangely enough happens)


Then there is Ernie Hudson. He is the black guy in the group.

Of course, he is going to be freaked out by the whole thing!

He got a job under suspicious conditions (no job interview), the hours are insane, the equipment is deadly, and oh, by the way, he is probably working for a scam of a company.

And then these guys get caught and are hauled off to jail!

Yeah, I’d be turning white too if I were him.

Because he is now in on the scam, and he is going down with them, despite not being apart of it originally.


The main villain is not even a ghost in the film.

That’s right, the main villain in a film with men catching ghosts is not a ghost.

That is strange.


If anything, the main villain is some sort of demon, not a ghost.

Sigourney Weaver gets possessed. At that point, Murray should call a priest, but he doesn’t, probably because if he does, then the gig is up, and they are caught.


The priest would be confused as to what they are even doing.

They aren’t catching ghosts.

They aren’t ridding the demon from the woman.

What are they actually doing?

A light show and getting out before too many questions are asked.

The only thing that saves them is the clever arguments they make to the mayor and the demonic event that occurs in the film.

Murray convinces the mayor to use them as bait for the villain.

If they save the day, the mayor gets the credit, not them.

If they die, then the Ghostbusters are out of the way.

If nothing happens, then the Ghostbusters are arrested.

It is almost as if Murray was expecting the group to get caught.

Like he knew he’d have to explain his way out of the situation eventually.

The film attributes this reasoning to Murray’s improvisation skills that he is quick on his feet, so he talked his way out of it, but maybe Murray was more prepared for the company getting caught than we realize.


Take away the main villain and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, and what are you left with?


A bunch of con artists parading around as if they are catching ghosts but are only causing trouble.


I hate to say it, but we all would think like the human villain more than any of us would like to imagine.


We like Aykroyd. We like Ramis. We like Murray. We like Hudson, so we root for them.

They are funny. They are charming. They are relatable, so we root for them to succeed.

But maybe we shouldn’t.


We all love the movie Ghostbusters because it is a story about a bunch of down on their luck guys who find success with a novel idea that looks cool, and then when society needs help, they contribute their own skills and lives to help everyone.

It is a nice story with interesting characters and a happy ending where the heroes win, and I still enjoy to this day.

But boy, as time goes by I can’t help but ask myself that I may be watching a bunch of con men who got lucky.

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Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. He has never caught a ghost. He has never crossed the streams. He knows all the words to the Ghostbuster song. He likes Slimer. He thinks an underrated part of the film is the end where all the Ghostbusters have cream on themselves from the explosion, aside from Bill Murray. For some reason his lack of cream after destroying the ancient God makes sense.

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