Note: What follows is a lengthy essay about the importance of architecture in the Ghostbusters movies. Where possible, I’ve included supporting clips from both movies, in the event you’re not familiar with the films, especially the seriously underrated sequel.
Early in Ghostbusters, Peter, Ray and Egon learn that Columbia University’s Board of Regents has terminated their grant because, according to the WASPY Dean Yeager, the Ghostbusters’ “theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, [their] methods are sloppy and [their] conclusions are highly questionable.”
To this Peter Venkman responds, simply, “I see.” The flatness of his face, the look of complete resignation, tells you he’s heard this all before, and the scene ends moments later.
Outcasts from the start, the Ghostbusters are discredited by their peers and doubted even by their first customer, the lovely Dana Barrett. They can only secure start-up funding for their business by mortgaging Ray’s childhood home. The fact that no one believes in the Ghostbusters is treated, by them, as incidental; their confidence as a group rarely flags, and there are few moments of hesitation among the three once they decide to become professional paranormal investigators and eliminators. Rather, the Ghostbusters embrace their outsider status, and gladly appeal to New York’s crazies and paranoids. Their slogan is, “We’re ready to believe you.”
The Ghostbusters’ quest is not for recognition, but simply for the right to exist, to be weird, to have different theories and succeed. Standing in their way are several forces of the “establishment” – from Dean Yeager, to Walter Peck of the Environmental Protection Agency, to the Mayor – who repeatedly try to shut the Ghostbusters down. This battle against the establishment, so central to the Ghostbusters’ story, is reflected throughout the film by architectural setting.