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Timothy Braun Headshot

An Ode to Harold Ramis

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I'll remember Harold Ramis as a writer more than an actor. His comedies viciously attacked plutocracies and he openly wanted to be disliked. As the hash tag #egonbutnotforgotten floats around Twitter, I'm not thinking about his lovable nerd character in Ghostbusters, I'm thinking about the sardonic attacks he wrote against camp Mohawk, the rich kids, in Meatballs, as the cut-rate summer campers at North Star made "It just doesn't matter" their war cry. In his work he showed to distrust authority, to question the system and there is nothing more romantic than to badly play the ukulele for a girl named Roxanne.

As a kid growing up in a small Midwestern town in the 1980s I didn't have cable, but my house was the first on our block to have a VCR. In the fifth grade I struggled with school and anything resembling authority; I felt like a loser, so my father got copies of Animal House and Caddyshack during spring break. I had seven full days to watch those movies over and over again and learn that it is not over even when the Germans bomb Pearl Harbor, that "There's a force in the universe that makes things happen; all you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking... let things happen... and be... the ball."

A decade ago I was reading a Time Out New York interview with Ramis on the subway. He mentioned that a major difference in contemporary comedies and his generation was that he wanted be disliked. Adam Sandler and his gang look to make people smile, and there is room in this world for that, but Ramis wanted to cause trouble. In his movies from the 1970s he was being rebellious and on the attack. How else can you explain the Delta House constructing a rogue parade float with Flounder's car and wrecking havoc on Dean Wormer's big day or the utter destruction of a country club with a dancing gopher as a denouement? He might be Egon, but not forgotten because for me Harold Ramis made "It just doesn't matter" actually matter.