It’s 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night in Williamsburg, and I’m watching three grown men walk down a quiet side street, sporting Ghostbusters jumpsuits and what appear to be functioning (“functioning”) proton packs. They’re in good spirits, laughing and striding toward their next destination with a tangible sense of pride. Without missing a beat, one of them gently reaches over to the other’s proton pack and flips a tiny switch. “I turned you off,” he tells his friend. “Oh, thanks, man,” the friend replies. “Appreciate it.”
All four of us have just left BBQ Films’s Ghostbusters HQ, an “immersive paranormal party” that’s recreating the 1984 film’s firehouse headquarters inside a massive event space in Brooklyn through Saturday night. I’m attending the opening-night event for two reasons: (1) I’m a sucker for theme parties; (2) I am hoping to troll for trolls. Specifically, I want to find and report on the deranged men of the internet, the hordes of bros who saw to it that the trailer for Paul Feig’s upcoming all-female Ghostbusters reboot was the most disliked trailer in history, the thousands of dudes who applauded Cinemassacre’s James Rolfe for posting a nearly seven-minute video explaining why he’d never see the new movie, the parents’-basement-dwellers who posted YouTube comments like, “This movie is pure feminazi propaganda,” and “When are people going to learn that women aren’t funny?”
What I actually find is much, much stranger: A wide-ranging, country-spanning group of men (and women, but mostly men) who have designated themselves official Ghostbusters, or “Ghostheads,” who spend all of their free time talking about the movies, cosplaying at Ghostbusters-themed events, building functioning Ectomobiles and proton packs, doing related charitable work, and being, from what I could tell, almost unilaterally decent people whose only sin is loving something that is fictional and unfeeling, that can’t love them back. These were some humane-ass nerds.