Late Friday night, thirty miles north of Los Angeles, a fire started near the San Gabriel mountains. By Saturday morning, it had blanketed 11,000 acres with flame, and tinged the 8am sky a deeply bruised grey. Smoke and ash were everywhere, covering the mountains so thickly it looked like snow, falling on cars, settling into the ocean. Light poured blood orange through windows. Hundreds of people tweeted about end of days. Smoke, heat, air, and health warnings were released, one after the next, until I found myself sequestered in an air conditioned room with only one plan: To go see Ghostbusters.
I am not a diehard Ghostbusters fan, or a Trekky, or a Star Wars fanatic, or even an eighties movie buff, for that matter. I went to see Ghostbusters for the girl power, the upsurge of feminist sass via a cast of all-female leads, and sure, maybe a little bit for Chris Hemsworth. So while the fires raged a few valleys north, I sat doing what Americans do best: Mollifying an anxious mind with pop culture whilst shoving popcorn into my mouth and ignoring the (literal and figurative) houses on fire nearby.
I loved every femme-powered moment of the remake, from its self-consciousness about race and gender (that perfect, stinging moment when Patty—played by a brilliant Leslie Jones—is dropped while trying to crowd surf, saying “I don’t know if it was a race thing or a lady thing, but I’m mad as hell”) to its cheeky nods to the original with cameos from Billy Murray, Dan Akroyd, and Sigourney Weaver.
But much has been written about these victories elsewhere—what sold me, ultimately, was the film’s insistence on an ending that simultaneously vanquished the ghosts and undid the damage and violence they unleashed upon Manhattan. As the Ghostbusters reverse the portal that set loose the undead, not only are the ghosts drawn back to the other side, but so is their destruction. Everything smashed and crushed and killed and possessed and blown up is entirely restored to wholeness and life. Perhaps director Paul Feig knew I couldn’t bear to see Manhattan decimated again.
The thing is, I can’t quite see any violence these days without thinking about Orlando, about #AltonSterling, about Istanbul, about Munich, about the many atrocities and terrorist acts in the developing world that don’t reach our news cycle (h/t to Edlyn D’Souza for sharing this perspective in comments last week). The more I’m exposed to real life events that look just like the explosive-addled, blood-streaked frames of the movies and video games the world spends thousands of hours watching, the more inclined I am to eschew violent media altogether.
Without much of a choice, I’ve spent most of my life wrestling with this question of how violent media affects real world behavior. I grew up in a home with a strict no violent media policy. I went to a Waldorf School through fifth grade, where we weren’t even supposed to have screens at home (my parents covered our television with a piece of tastefully embroidered silk). To this day, I can’t watch scary movies or anything very violent. I haven’t seen a single episode of Game of Thrones for fear of being inundated with imagery I just won’t be able to shake.
In writing today, I remembered that my college thesis was about violence in media and Greek tragedy, about Rene Girard’s theories of humanity’s instinctual draw to death and violence, and about antimythologies—stories told by a culture that are ultimately corrosive or destructive to that same culture. Most stories of destruction—even those with a happy ending, where there is a clear victory of good over evil—tend to maintain that destruction. But the 2016 Ghostbusters was different. It reversed the destruction. It undid the havoc. It healed, rather than decimated.
The truth is, I’m tired of watching media that glorifies the very acts of violence we live in fear of on a daily basis. Feig’s reversal won my heart.
And it inspired me to make some chartreuse green Ghostbusters goo with which to slather my face. Honeydew and lime pack a mega dose of fruit acids, vitamin C, and B vitamins, yielding a sublime—one might even say otherworldly—glow. Slather it on, let it dry, and was it off for skin softening, smoothing, and toning.
HONEYDEW LIME TONING MASK (AKA GHOSTBUSTERS GREEN GOO!).
- 2 cups roughly chopped honeydew melon
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
Nota bene: If you’re exposed to sun directly after using citrus on skin, you may experience severe burning or irritation. Make sure to wash your skin well after application, wait at least several hours before exposing yourself to the sun, and always apply sunscreen for protection. Moreover, excessive use of citrus on skin can cause lightening, so don’t use this mask more than once a week.
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer, reserving liquid for juice or cocktails. Apply strained honeydew lime mixture directly onto clean face, in as smooth a layer as possible (it’s difficult to get it completely smooth, so don’t worry if there are a few clumps). Let dry for ten minutes, then rinse and moisturize as usual.