Oh you absolute bastards.The Wizard of Oz and Bloody Top Cat and the Flintstones are one thing, but when I first saw this Halifax Ghostbusters Advert I felt a small part of the soul of the human race shrivel up and die. “Is nothing sacrosanct?” seems an increasingly rhetorical question these days. If they can sodomise Ghostbusters it begs the question as to what else is next.
A bit of context and perhaps a defence here. For some, the original Ghostbusters is hardly a work of art. When some reviews of the deathly Ghostbuster reboot came out, some actually went so far as to claim that the female-led reimagining was more amusing than the original, or ‘relentlessly funny‘. Almost correct.
While the remade Ghostbusters film was a deeply forgettable piece of work, I also deprecated the misogynistic backlash the film attracted. But while I thought the whingeing about people’s childhoods being ruined was pretty ridiculous – mainly because some ladies with fannies were in the new film – I’ve started to empathise with those ecotplasm-loving GhostBros.
Why? This Halifax Ghostbusters Advert, the advertising equivalent of defecating directly onto the faces of everyone involved in the original film. Here Bill Murray is replaced by Gareth, the stout Welsh chap who, not content with vomiting all over the Wizard Of Oz, now seems to be embarking on an all-out celluloid rampage akin to painting a cock into the Mona Lisa’s mouth.
I’m guessing that it’s no coincidence that Bill Murray is not involved, a man who, unlike Dan Akroyd, seems to be unimpressed by money and frivolity when it comes to his work. Harold Ramis, of course, did not have a choice whether he appeared in this genuinely upsetting spot, by handy virtue of being dead. There’s an irony.
“Oh, it’s only an advert. Get over yourself!” some arsehole will inevitably type. The reason the Halifax Ghostbusters Advert is so unpleasant is the inherent message behind it: see that thing you like? We can buy it and we can use however we please, simply because you like it and that has a value to us.
It’s as naked as advertising gets in exploiting you, your memories and your fondnesses. And if you’re one of those ‘get over yourself’ types then imagine how you’d feel if they wrote HALIFAX DEBIT CARD all over your Mum’s face.
If you accept that some things would be beyond the pale on virtually any level – let’s say dropping Gareth into Schindler’s List to discuss life insurance, for example – then you accept that all such judgements are questions of degree. And if you have any sense you’d concede that everyone’s red lines are set at different levels. Who are we to judge other people’s red lines?
For me, this advert crosses one. For I have incredibly fond memories of Ghostbusters, forged with friends, families, girlfriends. It’s a common cultural currency for people of my generation. To buy it, to unfunny it, to reduce it to digital material that’s only good for advertising financial services; to erase Bill Murray for a camp bank clerk burbling on about debit cards, well… it’s just depressing isn’t it?
To see adverts like this is to look through your memories, the repository of stuff you like, and realise that every single bit of it is up for sale. And whether you like Ghostbusters or not, that’s a frightening thought.