About a week ago, I saw the first teaser from Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which appears to be a superfluous addition to the franchise, notable to me for two reasons. The first is Paul Rudd, aging like a fine wine. The second is the gentleman you see above, plus all of his little, puffy friends.
In Ghostbusters, Rick Moranis turns into a large dog, and at some point, the demon Gozer visits Earth by assuming the form of the Stay-Puft marshmallow man, terrorizing Manhattan until the Ghostbusters are able to fix it. In Ghostbusters II, the big evil is a river of pink goo that runs under New York City; it is also Vigo the Carpathian, a painting that comes to life. I don’t know what happened in Ghostbusters: The One With Women that Made People Mad Because People Suck, because I did not watch it. Rumor has it the Stay-Puft man was in that one, too, but never have the tiny versions of this iconic villain shown up until now—and unfortunately, I cannot stop thinking about them.
Obviously, they’re very cute, which is part of the draw. As beloved franchises like the Star Wars and whatnot continue to churn out new content, they’re also finding clever merchandising opportunities. The mini Stay-Puft marshmallow men are the Ghostbusters’ Baby Yoda: small, squeaky, chubby, and very cute. But unlike Baby Yoda, who was my way into public earnestness and vulnerability, the mini Stay-Puft marshmallow men have a hedonistic streak that I find both charming and, frankly, terrifying. I am forced to respect them because if I don’t, they will kill me.
Some might suggest that because the beefy one is spit-roasting his friends over an open flame, he is cannibalistic. I disagree. For starters, the spit-roasting might be for aesthetics. Maybe this is how they tan. Also, no one ever says what these things eat, or if they do at all, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that they are eating each other. Also, there appears to be a small face in the flames, which suggests that these things catch on fire but do not die, making them even more dangerous. What I see here is hedonism that mirrors a post-pandemic mood, a society of people with shots in their arms who are on their way to live the hell out of life.
The mini Stay-Puft men do not appear to die, even when smushed between a graham cracker and a square of chocolate. Perhaps this is because ending up a S’more is their inevitable end. They live their lives to the fullest by fulfilling their destiny. I admire their independent spirits and also their zeal for life and, inevitably, death, though from what I can tell, death is not a permanent state for them—just a temporary cooling-off period before coming back stronger, better, and puffier than before.