Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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In Defense of Winston

We all know how the skit goes:

Chad: Who's your favourite ghostbuster?

Consuela: I like the black one.

Chi Chi: The black one? He didn't do nothing.

Consuela: But he was a Ghostbuster. They didn't give him enough to do, but he would have been a great Ghostbuster if they had given him a great Ghostbuster job and said, 'Go do that and be successful with it.'

Chi Chi: But he didn't do nothing.

This feeling that Winston Zeddemore is the fifth wheel of the Ghostbusters seems to be very common, exacerbated of course by the promotional material of the film which concentrated on bankable stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. I protest that charge. I think that Winston is not only an important element of the Ghostbusters team, but that he is important to the structure of the film's narrative discourse.
  • He has some of the best lines in the film!!! "Um, if there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say," "That's a big Twinkie," "Since I have joined these men, I have seen shit that would turn you white" are all Winston lines, as is the immortal "Ray, when somebody asks you if you're a god, you say yes."

  • He also gets the most emphatic expletives in the film, in the mayor's office and right before the reveal of Mr. Stay-Puft. This may not mean anything to most, but it was 1984. I was ten and this movie had a lot of "shit"s for a PG rated film of the era,¹ which was, you know, amusing to a ten year old back before cable TV and the video explosion.

  • Much has been made by some that Winston is a token black character. While the character is indeed black, I tend to view his injection into the Ghostbusters being more about class than it is about race. While Peter, Ray and Egon all hail from academia, Winston very clearly comes from a blue-collar background, and I believe that he does bring an important grounded perspective to the film's second half. The latter portion of the movie features an escalation of the supernatural elements, and so it was twice as important at that the voice of an everyman be integrated into the Ghostbusters.

  • The Ghostbusters look all badass when all four of them are lined up to take on a god as Elmer's theme gets all militaristic:

  • The character has the movie's closing line, giving voice to the implicit theme of the film, "I love this town!!!"
Fifth wheel? More like the fifth Beatle!

¹ — This was right before the unexpected, unexplained, and unforgivable sudden drop-off in bare female breasts in PG and later PG-13 rated films.
Tags: elmer bernstein, ghostbusters, new york

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