A disclaimer: I have never been a person who mourns over celebrity death. In fact, since I was young, I have found most people’s obsession with crying over artists they have never had any interaction with outside of listening to and/or viewing their performances rather disgusting.
I survived the suicide of Kurt Cobain obsession of ’94 and if I had to see one more blog about how Michael Jackson was going to be missed and how important he was to someone who has never heard more than the Thriller album, I was ready to launch myself into a chasm to join the king of pop in the afterlife to just get away from them.
I give you the above statement because the events of today make me a hypocrite for feeling the way that I do: Today, at the age of 69, Harold Ramis has passed from this world and I am genuinely upset by this.
To be fair, at first I didn’t think I would be.
I started my day as I normally do, rolling over to check what’s been going on in the flood of bullshit news that is my Facebook feed. Over and over again I saw confirmations that Mr. Ramis had passed and that it was not, in fact, a hoax. I got up to start my day and start getting my show notes together for this week’s podcast (http://thesurlynerd.com) and the first thing on my agenda was to write out what we would be talking about in reference to Harold Ramis’ contributions to both television and filmmaking.
As I got farther and farther into my research of the projects he had worked on in his time on this planet I realized that this man SHAPED my childhood.
On a basic level, Ghostbusters is my favorite film of all time. I watch it several times a year and growing up, all I wanted to be was a Ghostbuster. Digging further into his impressive resume I found that he was responsible for so many of the things I grew up watching.
Yes, he did everything when it came to the Ghostbusters franchise – from the cartoons, (The Real Ghostbusters, Extreme Ghostbusters) to the video game that many people consider the third film in the Ghostbusters series. Yet, on top of everything Ghostbusters related he did, his other projects were the ones that helped define my sense of humor and the type of film making that I enjoy to this day.
I want to get the obvious things out of the way: I loved Caddyshack and Meatballs is one of many of the classics he worked on that everyone adores. For me, growing up, it was a little Canadian produced show called SCTV that I used to watch obsessively.
As I said earlier, I wanted to be a Ghostbuster when I was little. The other occupation I really desired was that of a comedian. I used to watch the classic stand-up comedians over and over – from George Carlin to Rodney Dangerfield, Dana Carvey, and the list could go on and on. I fell in love with the idea of sketch comedy shortly thereafter. While I did watch Saturday Night Live (who didn’t back then) it was SCTV that I really went out of my way to see every week.
Second City Television (SCTV) was a sketch comedy show with a theme based all around a fictional television station that would make fun of anything from politics to late night horror television shows (my personal favorite segment). So many actors that are famous now had a hand in this cheaply made comic production – Eugene Levy, John Candy, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and of course Harold Ramis.
I don’t want to keep going on about his career, because I am sure a million other websites and blogs will have covered his life in much more detail than I ever could. Needless to say, I felt like something was genuinely gone from my life as I kept reading about his passing.
Following that, I saw dozens of pieces of original artwork from all over the internet showing how much he was going to be missed and I – for the first time ever, believed them. In that moment I had a connection to so many faceless people that existed online that all loved the same screenwriter and actor that I did.
Maybe this does make me a hypocrite, based on my previous thoughts when it comes to celebrity death. Maybe I just understand this concept more than I did before this moment. There’s a lot of maybes to consider now that Mr. Ramis has moved on from this world.
What I do know is that my childhood would not be what it was, if not for the man who eventually became Egon Spengler.
As I finish this little post, my marathon of the Ghostbusters movies is coming to an end as well. I know that as the credits are about to roll, and the theme song is going to play out one final time before I turn in for the evening – all I can think to myself is:
Thank you Mr. Ramis, for defining my childhood. You are going to be missed more than you know. Oh, and you were right, print is dead.
Until next time – Goodnight and good game