It’s been 35 years since Ghostbusters became a pop culture mainstay. And even after all that time, busting still makes us feel good. While there are plenty of things about the movie that hold up today, there are several that Generation Z may need explaining.
After all, Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore were ghostbusting in an analog time. And what was state of the art then is a distant memory today. If you can recall the eighties, this list of things the newest generation won’t understand will probably make you feel old. If you’re a part of Generation Z, this list will shed some light on some of the outdated things in Ghostbusters that you may have questions about.
10 THE SPECIAL EFFECTS LOOK WEIRD
To modern eyes, the special effects in Ghostbusters just don't look quite right. They lack the digital polish we're used to today. While they can create pretty much anything with CGI nowadays, things weren't that advanced in 1984. As a result, many of the effects seem, well, kind of janky.
Yet, what Generation Z might not appreciate is just how brilliant the effects team had to be to make the world of Ghostbusters come to life without the use of computer graphics. Many of the effects were practical and created on set. Creatures and ghosts were often puppets, and when that wouldn't work, they had to be drawn on each individual frame of film. The fact that everything looked as good as it did is actually pretty amazing and speaks to the effects team's ingenuity.
9 THE GHOSTBUSTERS ARE COMPARED TO COSMONAUTS
While Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler wait for the elevator at a ghost-infested hotel, a man observes them and asks, “What are you supposed to be, some kind of cosmonaut?” Generation Z may have caught the term "cosmonaut" in a history class at some point, but it’s not a word that’s bandied about in casual conversation much these days.
A cosmonaut is a Russian astronaut. And while some of the spacesuits cosmonauts wore were white, the spacesuits used for spacewalks were beige and looked a lot like the uniforms the Ghostbusters wear. The man by the elevator has no idea what a Ghostbuster is, but he knows they dress a lot like cosmonauts.
8 CASEY KASEM TALKS ABOUT THE GHOSTBUSTERS
During the montage charting the team's rise to prominence, a voice on the radio talks about the Ghostbusters' battle against a poltergeist in a night club. That voice may not sound familiar to Generation Z, however, those of us who are a little older will recognize it immediately. It’s Casey Kasem, the announcer responsible for bringing the American Top 40 radio show to the masses.
At one point, Kasem had one of the most famous voices in America and the Top 40 was a must-listen show. The Top 40 countdown still persists today, but it doesn’t have the same cultural cachet it once did. While Kasem sadly passed away in 2014, he built quite a legacy. In addition to the Top 40, he did voice-overs in TV commercials and was the voice actor behind characters like Shaggy in Scooby-Doo.
7 DANA'S ANCIENT TV
At one point, Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett comes home to find the TV on in her apartment. However, the TV in her living room probably doesn't look too familiar to Gen Z.
In the '80s TVs were big and boxy and the screens bulged out. Even the idea of a large, flat-screen TV like the ones we use now sounded impossible. Not only that, the switches to change the channel and raise and lower the volume were on the TV itself. While remotes were available, they were less common. You would just walk right up to the device and switch it off as Dana does. Weird, huh?
6 THE CARD CATALOG AT THE LIBRARY
One of the things the ghost at the library does to make its presence known is blow the cards out of a card catalog. But the card catalog may be an unfamiliar sight to Generation Z.
Today if you want to locate a book in a library, you look it up in a computer database. Years ago though, before people used computers for pretty much everything, libraries had a different system of sharing a book’s location with their patrons.
A card catalog contained a card for every single book in the library, showing its location. Borrowers would find books by opening the drawer marked with the letter of the last name of the author they were searching for and then sift through the cards until they found what they wanted. Sometimes the individual cards were even filled out by hand. The system was simple, but a lot more time-consuming.
5 THE GHOSTBUSTERS CARRY A LOT OF EQUIPMENT
When Spengler and Venkman make their way to the library to check out the ghost, Spengler comes loaded down with equipment. While the Ghostbusters use some highly specialized technology — proton packs, anyone? — the things Spengler carries on this initial outing aren’t all that special, they include a tape recorder, a film camera, and a video recorder.
Sure, now all those things are available on our smartphones, but in 1984 you needed an individual device for everything — and by today's standards, those devices were huge. Spengler was prepared to take photos, record video, and record audio of the ghostly encounter, but to do so he had to haul around all that equipment.
4 ICEBOX IS A SYNONYM FOR REFRIGERATOR
At one point Dana asks Venkman what the demon Gozer is doing in her “icebox.” If you’ve seen Ghostbusters, though, you know that Zuul is in her refrigerator. Given the context, Dana’s using the term icebox as a synonym for her refrigerator, however, it’s not exactly a perfect comparison.
Iceboxes were a non-electric precursor to the modern refrigerator. While the two words actually were used as synonyms for a time, it’s rare nowadays. Even in 1984, Dana’s use of the term sounded a bit dated.
3 THE GHOSTBUSTERS ARE ON THE COVER OF OMNI MAGAZINE
During the montage that follows the Ghostbusters’ growing fame, references to the group are shown in newspaper headlines and magazine covers, including USA Today, Time, and The Atlantic. There was no digital media at the time, so making the papers and being a magazine cover star were the way the public learned about someone.
One of the magazine covers the Ghostbusters appear on has a special place in science fiction lovers’ hearts but may look made up to Gen Z. The magazine is called Omni and it was, in fact, a real magazine. A print version of Omni was published between 1978 and 1995 and it continued to be published online until 1998. Despite its long absence, the magazine looks to be relaunching soon.
2 VENKMAN DECLARES, “IT’S MILLER TIME!”
After the Ghostbusters defeat Gozer (or at least think they do), Venkman victoriously shouts, “It’s Miller Time!” Yet since Generation Z watches fewer commercials than other generations ever did, they may have missed out on this at-one-time ubiquitous tagline.
“It’s Miller Time!” was a slogan used for Miller beer. Originally it was used in the 1970s. Since then it’s been used several other times, including in 2012. That’s well within Gen Z’s lifetime, but the slogan never achieved the same popularity it did earlier. In the movie, Venkman’s use of the tagline is a unique way for him to celebrate his team’s awesome victory while also declaring it’s time to party.
1 EVERYONE’S SMOKING EVERYWHERE
Today, it’s rare to see people smoking in public, especially if they’re indoors. And in movies, characters almost never light up unless there’s a very specific character-driven reason for them to do so
However, even though the dangers of cigarettes were already widely known in the 1980s, smoking was still tolerated pretty much everywhere. The constant smoking engaged in by the characters in Ghostbusters is a product of that reality. The Ghostbusters don’t smoke for any character-based reason. They do it because that’s just what people did. At the time, smoking in movies and in life was still accepted, even though today it makes the movie look seriously dated.