Ghostbusters and tenure in Louisiana

Ghostbusters is old enough that I don't mind giving away some spoilers. If you haven't seen it, I doubt you are going to.

In the movie, the Ghostbusters capture some ghosts. They keep these ghosts in some "containment grid" device. Someone from the city doesn't like this and comes to turn it off. After much searching, I found the clip.

I am going to talk about Louisiana education and tenure, but first I will look the players in the above scene. What were they thinking? Here is my guess.


Walter Peck: These Ghostbusters are a bunch of frauds. They are just stealing money from people that don't know any better. Ghosts? Really? Ghosts aren't real.


Power Guy: Oh boy, I am in a pickle. I guess I have to do what this Pecker guy says, but it doesn't seem like a very wise thing to do. That chili dog I had for lunch isn't sitting too well in my stomach.


Egon Spenkler: Oh crap. I have worked so hard to set up this containment system and now they are going to shut it off. This is going to suck, big. Oh, I know I took some short cuts and didn't follow all the rules. This system has problems, but it is the best we have.


Peter Venkman: I knew it had to end. This has been one sweet ride. This Ghostbusters gig has been the best way to meet girls. Way better than that silly psychic show I had. I wonder if I could be a politician.

Pre-emptive Ghostbusters comments

Commenter: Um... just so you know...I am a graduate student working on my Ph.D. in Ghostbustersology. You are way off in your portrayal of Peter Venkman. Our research has shown that he is not just looking out for himself. Peter Venkman represents the inner struggle of self over society. Please correct this.

Me: Ok - I am going to fix that.

Now for some Louisiana News:

Here are two news links that describe the situation:

The short scoop is that Louisiana is having budget troubles. One way to adjust to the lower budget would be to eliminate some positions. How do you remove tenured faculty? Oh, just get rid of tenure (essentially). Yes, this is a bad idea. Instead of talking about this, let me give you a Ghostbusters to Louisiana translation (and include what they are thinking)

LA Legislators = Walter Peck: These faculty are frauds. They just sit around in their little offices and they have cushy jobs. They are stealing money from people that don't know any better. This college education stuff is totally over rated.

LA Board of Regents = Power Guy: Oh dear. We don't have enough money to run our universities. We are pretty sure that destroying tenure is a bad idea. That chili dog I had for lunch isn't sitting too well in my stomach.

University Deans = Egon Spenkler: We have worked so hard to build up these colleges. Do you know how long it took to recruit these faculty? We were finally getting some good grants. Oh, I know this tenure system has problems, but it is the best we have. (this could be the faculty saying this too - but I picked Deans.)

I am Peter Venkman: I knew it had to end. This tenure thing was just too good to be true. This tenure stuff was a great way to get blog ideas. I wonder if I can be a space cowboy.

Final note: if you break tenure - think of all the faculty that will be free and running around Louisiana.


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"I liked the University. They gave us money, they gave us the facilities and we didn't have to produce anything! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results. You've never been out of college. You don't know what it's like out there."

By Gabriel Hanna (not verified) on 28 Aug 2010 #permalink

The private sector just bribes some politicians and steals the money. Billions, not the measley 100 grand a typical acaeemic aspires to. Ask Blackwater or Halliburton. They make Venkman's pre-ghostbusting money-cadging antics look like nothing.

By anthrosciguy (not verified) on 28 Aug 2010 #permalink

Venkman began his show "World of the Psychic" after the events of GHOSTBUSTERS. Prior to that time, he was an (untenured, clearly) professor at Columbia University. Which was arguably a much better position for meeting girls -- when we first meet him, he's successfully setting up a date with an attractive co-ed by convincing her she has psychic powers.

Totally awesome way to explain the situation! Love it!

Yeah, I'm a postdoc right now and have reached the conclusion that staying in the game is a sucker's job. Fortunately, places outside academia are also looking for physicist-hackers... and they can *pay* them and provide a *permanent* position. (Sure, you can get fired, including just because the bosses want to pinch pennies, but that's true in academia as well, and increasingly the difference in permanence is going away.... but the huge pay discrepancy is not. Plus, I have an unknown number of postdoctoral positions still lurk in my future. Hopefully none, but none of them would be permanent and I'd have to be looking for my next gig. So yeah, I don't see the point anymore.

... Peter had the "World of the Psychic" show after Ghostbusters... since it only appears in GB II... just sayin... and Egon's last name is "Spengler" not "Spenkler"... Just sayin... Cause I'm bored...

Good work on this scene breakdown! I like it! +1

By Not you... (not verified) on 29 Aug 2010 #permalink

Interesting analogy!

We could use another PhD in the group!

You might want to check us out on Facebook and on our website.

Bustin' for charity is another great way to meet chicks and get your blog ideas out!

appropriate quote from the movie:

Library Administrator: What's has that got to do with it?

Dr. Peter Venkman: Back off, man. I'm a scientist.