Today Gnostalgia raised some interesting questions about whether paranormal TV is staged or hoaxed (or perhaps both). Barry’s no more satisfied with Syfy’s latest paranormal programming offering (Haunted Collector) than I am. And Finding Bigfoot has only turned out to be laughable. (See also another great Gnostalgia post: Finding Bigfoot on Talk Soup.)
Let me give it to you straight: Syfy’s done pissed me off royal. I wanted to like Fact or Faked. But then they had to go and try to package it as some kind of X-Files. Ben Hansen ain’t no Mulder. (Even though the show tries to profile him that way.)
Now we’ve got the Haunted Collector.
Oh, where do I even begin with the woes I’ve got about that show?
Let me make one caveat before I begin, because I’m about to get brutally honest.
Before the debut of Haunted Collector, I respected John Zaffis as an authority in the paranormal community. (Authority vs. expert because I don’t believe there are any experts when it comes to all of this stuff.) I still respect him, but I’m questioning his motives, which has, unfortunately, cost some trust.
LET THE RANT BEGIN…
John Zaffis has no more particular credentials that qualify him for bringing home haunted items than I do. Okay, I’ll give you that he’s been a paranormal researcher for 40 years. He’s related to two other well known figures in the paranormal world: Ed and Lorraine Warren. He’s worked with priests, monks, and the like.
Yes, he’s put in some time, but doing what exactly? Apparently bringing home haunted items and exposing his family to them.
If you even believe that items can be haunted, which I happen not to.
But for the sake of argument, say something attaches itself to a haunted item. He says he “cleanses” things before bringing them into his museum. Or tries to.
Um, here’s my problem with that. What if I decide to haunt a certain item when I die? I don’t follow any particular religion. Good luck cleansing the item of me. The only laws I abide to are the natural ones. Only the Universe can harness those. I’m not going to respect spiritual laws once I pass over. So explain to me how the hell someone like John Zaffis is going to cleanse my energy off something?
Not by destroying the item or setting it on fire. According to the FAQs on his Museum of the Paranormal website:
The reason that most items are not destroyed is because this action can hold severe repercussions. It can be dangerous for an individual to destroy an item used in spiritual practicing because the spirit attached to that object will often gravitate towards the individual who destroys it.
You know what he does with objects like the hypothetical one someone like me might haunt? Again, straight from his museum’s site:
…there have been some items which carry with it such a strong spirit that a cleansing ritual will not be effective. When John comes across such an artifact, it is often disposed of by burying it in the ground or throwing it into a body of water.
Um, even though that isn’t destroying it in the sense of smashing it up or turning it to ashes, water and soil will eventually erode it, and, hence. destroy it. What’s the difference?
And let’s talk about his daughter. At the very start of last night’s show she talked about how uncomfortable she’d been as a girl when her dad would bring home these haunted items, and how it’s taken her a long time to make peace with it and be okay with it.
Click! (That’s me turning off Haunted Collector last night.)
Done, done, done with the show.
That part pissed me off. Why? Because, referring yet again to his museum’s FAQs, I’d read the following A. in response to the following Q:
Q: Why do you collect the items in the museum? Is it a good idea to display these items to the public?
A: John collects these items in the hopes that they will educate people about the dangers of delving into the spiritual world. John hopes that people will leave the museum with a better understanding of the risks associated with the world of the supernatural. John also hopes that people will understand the dangers of opening the doors to the spiritual realm without a solid understanding the consequences.
Refer back to his un-special credentials. He’s a researcher. He has some famous relatives. He’s not God or any other powers that be. What makes him any less susceptible to the consequences of the supernatural world than any others who dabble in it? (Because, let’s face it, when you come right down to it, he’s dabbling too.)
Oh wait, his museum’s FAQs has an answer for that too:
With most of the items in the museum, they have been used in rituals, usually when spells are being cast. Although the items are not “possessed,” energy can be sent towards an object. Items can hold energy within or around them, and it is usually the result of the energy being sent to the object by an individual.
If the items he’s collected for his museum have been acquired as per how he does it on his show, how the hell does he even know they became “infected” (for lake of a better term) by a spell gone wrong in the first place? I find it very hard to believe that many people are casting spells. (Except for lame ass producers who are trying to beguile me as a viewer.)
Dammit, Syfy, quit insulting my intelligence! I’m a smart viewer who would appreciate smart programming. The only reason I still watch Destination Truth is because you’ve never tried to pass Josh Gates off as anything other than a wise-cracking adventurer, not as any kind of expert or special guru. (I’ll admit, it doesn’t hurt that he’s some mighty yummy eye candy, too.)
But, come on. Show a little respect to the intelligence level of your viewers. We’re not gullible. We expect more now. We have standards. After all, we learned about debunking and thinking through things logically from your biggest hit, Ghost Hunters.
Actually, take it one step further. Show a little respect to the paranormal community overall. Shows like Fact or Faked and Haunted Collector ultimately diminish the credibility and do more damage than good to the reputation of the paranormal community as a whole.
Please quit compromising integrity for the sake of so-called entertainment. (Which, FYI, HC isn’t all that entertaining. Besides, you’ve already got a fictonal show like it, don’t you? Um, isn’t it called Warehouse 13?)