Postmodern Conservative

Ghostbusters and Star Trek Today

Sequels in the theaters

Let me get the really controversial issues out of the way. I liked the new Ghostbusters movie about as much as the first one. In both cases, my bottom line: good-natured and sometimes fun but not funny enough. And the special effects just aren’t special enough.

No, I’m not offended that to learn that women can be scientists and ghostbusters just like men. And that they’re the ones most open and attuned to the presence of the paranormal. And that the main obstacles to their quest for the truth that can save a city is vain men — out-of-touch scientists and lyin’ politicians. I wasn’t even offended that the film’s main male character is a clueless, stupid, self-absorbed guy who was hired only for his good looks.  

Give the dearth of summertime competition, I recommend that you see the new Ghostbusters.

The new Star Trek I found boring. There is no new Trekkie ground broken. and what passes for philosophy and political theory is thinner than in the past. The characters are okay only if you viewed them through memories of their more fleshed-out predecessors. See it only if you are bound to see them all.

Well, we do see there’s no true nobility in choosing a world of struggle and honor over a peaceful world governed by contracts. Remaining on the march is the endless American quest to eliminate all real diversity from the cosmos. The captains leading that march still have fun, driven by struggle, honor, and close brushes with death. While Spock contemplates mortality in the wake of Ambassador Spock’s death, we hear that it’s fear of death that keeps us alive. And Spock does come more alive and becomes a more relational guy, thinking, for example, more of love of real woman and less of doing his duty to his Vulcan species. So it turns out that indefinite longevity would be more a curse than a blessing, because death breathes life into peaceful, contractual, high-tech societies. Thanks God the cosmos, so far, is full of mortals, at least in the biological sense.

I agree with Carl than Love and Friendship inferior to Whit Stillman’s great trilogy about the Urban Haute Bourgeoisie.  It’s about human nature displays itself in a world where women have to be more clever than men to get access to money, power, and sexual satisfaction. It’s something like Machiavelli’s La Mandragola​, even featuring a princess and her secretary. It features this curious kind of friendship, but not much love at all. And no one who’s all that lovable.

 As Titus and Carl have showed, there’s a lot more going on, but I have to begin at the beginning. And Stillman’s weakest is still endlessly amusing and instructive, 

So, in my view, the characters (like Machiavelli’s) are too close to caricatures and have too little likeable or personal about them. Well, that’s less true of  the men, for the most part.  

The characters in Metropolitan, Last Days of  Disco, and Barcelona touch your heart as wounded souls doing the best they can in a world in which they can’t rely on stable conventions or personal authority to guidedthem. There is something more authentic about being a marginal American miserable, to some extent, in the absence of God.

Peter Augustine Lawler — Peter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...

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