The actor Ernie Hudson recently appeared on NBC’s Today Show to promote his role in the revisit of Quantum Leap. While this show was the focus of the conversation eventually things turned to another one of the actor’s roles. That of Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore. The show’s crew, as well as fans, recently were treated to a revisit of that character in 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Joining a new cast – whose characters would expand on the estabslished while exploring the untold Ghostbuster lore – Hudson would also have original teammates Dan Akyroyd and Bill Murray returning to tell this story.
Often with reunions, there are difficult moments; this one would be no different. In addition to the absence due to the death of Harold Ramis, one detail, which many fans may have been previously unaware of, dealt specifically with Hudson.
As a struggling actor, the part in Ghostbusters was a huge role; Eddie Murphy was considered as well. Not only was the money right but so was the role. It seems that the original script featured Winston with a backstory; joining the other Ghostbusters earlier in the film. His military career, as opposed to the “scientists” in the series, ideally would have been a benefit to the team in terms of the ‘busting’ aspect of the job. Someone other than Ray may have suggested a plan at the New York Public Library. And, the Sedgewick Hotel may have suffered less property damage.
Instead due to studio changes audiences saw a different Zeddmore. Appearing as an everyday guy looking for a job. Which sounds similar to the story Hudson shared during the Afterlife press tour – about his dismay and decision to take the call. I’ve also seen the infomercial that matches up to this story – since I’m still waiting on mine too.
Not only did Winston appear later on in the film, after the Ghostbusters craze has caught on, but with no backstory – or apparent expertise – Winston’s character seems more like someone who would be receiving orders; not giving them. It also distances the “scientist” stance of the series since well, anyone can do this job; look at Luis Tully.
Not being recognized as scientists was the initial issue with the Ghostbusters team. Receiving the ultimate college expulsion the trio set out to prove their was justification for the study – and the associated expenses – of their “science”. They wanted to be seen as scientists.
But, have you looked up the definition of the word “scientist” recently? One of those round-a-round words; it leads you to another word that requires a definition. In this instance scientists study or experiment or have knowledge of the “sciences”. And, what is a science? More studies and knowing, this time the structure of the world; physical and natural. Gonna puke yet Dr. Venkmen?
While Winston’s role would become the embodiment of the everyman, the other Ghostbusters retained their association with academia. However, if you take a look at disciplines of the doctorates, some people may argue if any of the guys were scientists.
Obviously, there was no shortage of synapses firing in the Firehouse. How else can you explain the proton packs, the ghost-traps and even Ecto-1? No doubt the combination of Dr. Egon Spengler, with a degree in the philosophy of nuclear engineering, along with Ray’s doctoral degree in metallurgy were key factors in the creation of these devices.
As a respecter of any studies or pursuits of knowledge, there is no intention to disrespect any degree. As a bachelor in the field of psychology there have been times others have added the words pseudoscience when mentioning that milestone.
With his doctorate in psychology Dr. Venkmen is probably also well aware of how he is viewed in some circles of academia; the dean makes it quite clear. The addition of a doctorate in parapsychology – which Dr. Stanz and Spengler also possess – probably wasn’t giving him any additional significant scientific credibility.
Things were only complicated by the scientific method the trio – specifically Dr. Venkman – chose to employ. Or the existence(s) they chose to explore. But isn’t boldly going the beginning of one of the most scientific of fiction stories. Could it be that their work was not less noble and they just acted like knuckleheads.
Based upon the words of Nobel Prize winner Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the Ghostbusters were thinking about what others ignored. Investigating what few claim to see yet seems feasible.
Viewing the original Ghosbusters efforts this way they are not merely a bunch of scientists; much more or possibly less depending on the person you poll. Because they can actually be viewed as philosophers in a sense.
The simple definition or duties of a philosopher -or philosophy – is undertaking the path to understand the truths about oneself and the (entire) world one encounters.
The definition of philosophy is practically the same as the definition of science. Which may explain why it isn’t viewed that way in some academic circles. Every other science wants you to state your major, but in the philosophers school of thought allows the student to remain undeclared. Allowing the scientist to ask the question first and then figure out what to do with the discovery.
Often this discover then and do becomes self perpetuating. Take for example the problem of ghost containment. The small trap for a few ghosts clearly evolved into the full Containment Unit.
But life, and apparently what’s after, doesn’t stop. The Containment Unit was merely a means to an end. It was one thing to prove the existence, however, now the Ghostbusters were facing an uptick in paranormal activity. Egon and Ray realized this and the fact that the Containment Unit was reaching capacity; another problem to solve. They even speculated there must be an underlying cause. But their science stopped short. The conversation focused on the what first, rather than the why; then what – to do.
If the dead were walking the earth, why?
If you’ve seen Ghostbusters: Afterlife, you no doubt are familiar with this biblical scripture. The words from this verse are painted on fencing outside the Dirt Farmer’s ranch.
This wasn’t the first time the Bible was brought up in this franchise. After his arrival at least one unseen Ghostbusting had Ray and Winston team up together. Fans may remember catching up with the two as they returned to the Firehouse. As Ray reviewed the blueprints to Dana Barrett’s building, Winston began to postulate the possible reasons for the rise in ghost activity. Dr. Stanz shows his limited knowledge of the word. Although he believes he is speaking from Chapter 7, verse 12, Ray actually references 6:12 as well. The End of Times. Judgment Day.
Speculation was and probably will always be present when talking about the paranormal. Our world exists in a show me state; belief is established by sight. However, it is odd for a scientist to seem surprised by the prospect of possibilities. But that is exactly how Ray reacts to the rebuttal by Winston that the word isn’t myth but is actually being made flesh – or at least free floating vaporous apparitions.
It isn’t until their brief incarceration, for potential environmental and health issues – more science disrespecting science, the real reason for the situation is finally “scienced”. Combining the knowledge of the structural design of 550 Central Park West with information contained in obscure texts, the Ghostbusters unraveled an elaborate plot. One which sought to access ancient energy with modern machinery.
How would you describe Ivo Shandor’s actions and ambitions? You may think he merely discovered a suitable location to mine, full of the materials to make his marvel of Manhattan, but what if was he following a calling? How deep was his love for Gozer? Would it qualify as worship; is it his religion?
Theology, like the other innovators of science, doesn’t get the respect it is due. Although to be fair, untangling that definition is very tiresome. Requiring the ability to first relate what is and isn’t religion. Maybe because of the devil in the details – as in Oh God, You Devil. It’s a hard conversation to carry when people only seem concerned with conversion.
However, aren’t religions, and the study, merely our self awareness being explored while acknowledging outside existences.
It’s as if during that drive in Ecto-1, the science of the Ghostbusters reaches a crossroads with other theoretical, abstract and even empirical sciences thanks to Winston’s words. Not the only words of wisdom he offered from his theological studies.
Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES
Though the credits of Ghostbusters: Afterlife give him his time to shine – though what does it profit a man to gain the whole world. And the soul of the team had already been established. It may have been overlooked but fans had already witnessed what Winston meant to the team.
If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what does each Ghostbusters’ image in the former painting of Vigo mean?
Does Peter’s sword signify protector or his striking personality? While Ray found peace and a reason to be of good cheer – imagine being immediately excited at the sight of the Firehouse.
But Egon’s book didn’t look like a journal, did it? It’s one thing for a scientist to study a text, but that’s just the start of science. Boldly Go.
And what does Winston hold? A harp – displaying music or art; maybe it’s motivation and inspiration. I think therefore I am, I am therefore I think. An acceptance of one’s existence, albeit brief, and an effort to ascertain all that is accessible.
The American astronomer Carl Sagan states that science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.
Or better yet, isn’t it Albert Einstein who said that science was the refinement of everyday thinking. And that it should be relatable to even a bartender.
Isn’t that what Winston Zeddmore does. This anybody with no recognized body, academic or otherwise, to offer up acknowledgements of his achievements,
Just the tools and the talent.
Back off man.
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