Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Read this: Does Ghostbusters: Afterlife's Muncher "reflect a profound crisis of American meaning"?

Illustration for article titled Read this: Does Ghostbusters: Afterlife's Muncher "reflect a profound crisis of American meaning"?
Screenshot: YouTube

Muncher Mania’s been sweeping social media since Spain’s MasterChef Junior introduced the world to the blobby blue specter, a heavy-lidded amalgamation of Slimer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. We’ve yet to see the rotund little fucker in action—we’re guessing the next trailer will fix that—but that hasn’t stopped the world’s sharpest minds from interrogating the myth of Muncher and what, exactly, distinguishes him from Slimer. Other than color, of course.

Here with a theory are Jacobin editor Daniel Bessner and Chapo Trap House hosts Matt Christman and Amber A’Lee Frost, who posit—with tongues firmly planted in cheek—that, if Slimer embodied the “hedonistic greed of the Reagan era,” then Muncher is “the perfect embodiment of our era of permanent decline, in which every downwardly mobile middle-class American has become lobotomized by the internet and unsustainable consumption.”

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They continue:

Where Slimer was joy, Muncher is depression; where Slimer was sex, Muncher is abstinence; where Slimer gave his captors a run for their money, Muncher is snail-like; where Slimer was booze and cocaine, Muncher is ketamine and opioids; and, most important, where Slimer devoured with hedonistic abandon, Muncher merely munches.

These might seem bold statements considering we haven’t seen how Muncher moves or munches, nor what his role is in the story. But the writers take pains to point out the new film’s rural setting, noting that Muncher has been “priced out” of Manhattan. In the “heat-blistered cornfields of the Midwest,” he trades the sumptuous plates of hotel room service favored by his predecessor for the “subsidized orgy of mass-produced, corn-based foodstuffs that have made Americans obese, irritated, and depressed.” First impressions are everything, and it speaks volumes that Muncher has struck the online masses as a uniquely depressing creature. We dubbed him a large, dead, blue failson in our original post, and clearly we’re not alone in that assessment.

Nevertheless, anticipation remains high for our first proper glimpse of this disgusting, little freak, one that will undoubtedly help illuminate just how much the creature reflects the “profound crisis of American meaning” detailed in the piece. You can read it in full over at Jacobin.

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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