'Is the age of consent a thing in the afterlife?'

By Dana Schwartz
March 30, 2018 at 07:00 AM EDT
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Exactly 30 years ago today, Tim Burton introduced the world to the clownish, crude bio-exorcist in a striped suit: Beetlejuice. The green-haired ghost (Michael Keaton) instantly became an iconic pop culture character and — along with Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz — something of a patron saint of moody teens hanging out at their local mall’s Hot Topic.

You don’t watch a movie about ghosts for its scientific accuracy, but when re-watching Beetlejuice it becomes immediately apparent that some things just don’t add up. We had some lingering questions, like: 

Did the Maitlands choreograph that entire dinner party song-and-dance sequence?

Before calling on Beetlejuice’s services, the Maitlands try to scare out the Deetzes on their own by possessing them at a dinner party and forcing them to dance along to Day-O in an instantly iconic scene.

But the Maitlands had to have choreographed that whole dance right? And this is a couple that ran a hardware store — that is some serious underutilized potential. They had super short notice, and we get a visually interesting, totally cohesive piece of dance. I mean, did they already know how to meringue or whatever? Good for them.

What’s with the ghost economy?

We know that the Maitlands have to haunt their house for 125 years, but we see a fully functioning afterlife society behind the scenes. Beetlejuice reads a newspaper, which implies there are dead-people reporters, and he also goes to a whorehouse Juno conjures for him which means there have to be afterlife prostitutes.

And we also get Juno, and Miss Argentina, who works as a bureaucrat because she had her little accident, because we do know in this universe, if you kill yourself, you become a bureaucrat.

So your job in the afterlife is like, a punishment or a reward, something of a reflection on what you did while you were alive. But that sort of raises a bunch of questions about that tiny personal Beetlejuice brothel. Who are those women? That’s their afterlife? Existing in a tiny brothel just waiting to be called upon to please a green-haired sex offender? That’s their punishment?

And if dead people need jobs, what the hell is Beetlejuice doing? He gets to work as a freelance bio-exorcist? We know he used to work as Juno’s assistant, but he got fired, and so now he’s just an unemployed dead person? That… seems better?

Is the age of consent a thing in the afterlife?

So for some reason that we never get an explanation for, in order to be freed from his prison of appearing and disappearing every time someone says his name, Beetlejuice needs to get married. So he forces Lydia into a red dress and summons a ghost priest, who seems perfectly fine going along with the ceremony even though Lydia is clearly not on board. And yet we know there are some rules for this marriage to happen. They need witnesses, and Lydia needs to say “I do,” but the priest is okay with her visibly struggling against her will? Also, she is a child. How is everyone okay with that? How does his “marriage” loophole apply to statutory forced marriage?

Beetlejuice is also just generally pervy — he makes gross comments and tries to take upskirt photos of Barbara. That sort of thing has to be why he got fired from Juno’s office, right? Sex crimes? 

Those are just three of our lingering questions. Check out the video above for more.

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  • 03/30/88
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