The exact moment I transitioned from a young, careful dude to a cranky old fart coincided with the realization that Walter Peck is a guy who’s not only just doing his job, but he’s doing it fairly well. As I assume most of you know (and, hey, it better damn well be all of you), Walter Peck is an inspector for the Environmental Protection Agency. Meaning it is Walter’s job to protect the environment—and, by proxy, human health—from all manners of things such as toxic waste, smog, contaminated water tables, and busting ghosts.
As an omniscient audience member, we know that there’s a major ghosting problem going on in New York City. As a realist though (as in if we really lived in the reality of the Ghostbusters films), we would have to be on Peck’s side, and say, “Hey, maybe, we should keep an eye on these guys running around with lasers. And, maybe, they shouldn’t have lasers. Who’s looking into this? If only there was a bearded wonder to set things right.”
Ghosts, in and of themselves do not fall under EPA jurisdiction; it’s the storage and disposal of ghosts that falls under EPA jurisdiction. Ghost storage could fall under the Toxic Substance Control Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act (I think slime counts as a solid), and Nuclear Waste Repository Act (the proton packs are nuclear). On second thought, ghosts could possibly fall into the Endangered Species Act if you count ghosts as an endangered species and considering how few ghosts there are and the rate at which the Ghostbusters are busting them, I think you have to. At the end of the day, Peck and the Environmental Protection Agency just want to prevent disasters such as blowing up New York (which the Ghostbusters do... spoiler alert [already spoiled]).
Walter Peck was right to do his job, and he went about it the right way. He was friendly and professional, he politely requested to just see the containment unit, most likely to see if it was spitting out toxic ghost waste (the kind of toxic ghost waste that could seep into the New York City sewer system and form some sort reactive sludge… or “mood slime”). He doesn’t want to shut the Ghostbusters down, he just wants to make sure they’re following the proper rules and regulations that every business has to follow. He even said please. And for that, Peter Venkman gets in his face and throws him out the building.
Venkman and crew may not be ‘fraid of no ghost, but they do appear to be ‘fraid of a little paperwork. One day of filling at forms at town hall pretty much negates this entire subplot.
The fact that Peck has the right to look into the Ghostbusters affairs is beside the point, the important thing is he should be looking into them. They openly admit that the proton packs are “unlicensed nuclear accelerators.” Do you really want untrained, mostly bumbling college professors running around with these things? What do we even really know about the proton stream? Best case they can burn the hell out a roll of toilet paper, so 2nd and 3rd degree burns. What happens if that ghost baby they're trying to catch isn't a ghost? Worst case scenario and, perhaps, Egon Spengler explains it best:
Don't cross the streams… It would be bad… Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Bad is an understatement.
Perhaps, this falls more into a 2nd amendment debate (“Gov’ment’s takin’ our Prot’n Packs”) than an ecological debate. But if it doesn’t fall under an environmental issue, when Peck starts pointing a finger, maybe, one of the cops he brought along should have said, “Hey, maybe, these guys shouldn’t have lasers. Maybe, they should be detained from using lasers until a judgment is made.” I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a laser beam, I just think laser beams should require some sort of approval, some sort of background check, some sort of something. Winston isn’t even a doctor, he’s just some dude.
If the point of Walter Peck’s character was the he was a huge, irrational wet blanket then what should have happened when he shut down the containment grid is nothing. The only thing that makes Walter Peck look like an ass would be if the Ghostbusters were actual con artists. If they were just pretending to catch ghosts then the EPA really has no say about containing these fake ghosts. The fact that the Ghostbusters’ firehouse blew up actually proved his point. It proved that this technology is dangerous to New York and its citizens.
Look at this way, what happens if there’s a blackout? This:
Egon even says that the firehouse is substandard for their power needs. They know this was a bad idea before they built it.
What happens if there’s a blown fuse? This:
What happens if they miss an electric bill? This:
What happens if Winston leans against the wrong lever? This:
What happens if they over fill the grid? This:
Walter Peck was right because the Ghostbusters were using clearly illegal black market equipment, and he was right about the danger to the environment that equipment represents. Yet, the Ghostbusters get off the hook because they’re wittier than Peck. Not being funny isn’t a crime, and being funny shouldn't be a reward. So, the Ghostbusters blow up their headquarters and instead of being prosecuted, they get set loose to fight the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (a form they conjured), which promptly explodes all over New York City. Ten tons of marshmallow being dumped in the middle of the city is an ecological disaster of a whole other kind.
And who’s gonna clean up this mess (who ya really gonna call?): Walter Peck and the Environmental Protection Agency.
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