I have to get something off my chest. I’ve noticed a trend develop in some of the blogs I follow. Lately many of my fellow bloggers have been feeling as disgruntled, dissatisfied and disillusioned with the same thing I have: ghost TV shows.
CAN’T GET NO SATISFACTION
Either in their own posts or in comments they’ve left on other blogs, I’ve seen such bloggers I respect and admire like Julie from Above the Norm, Autumnforest from Ghost Hunting Theories, Susan from Haunt Spots Tours, or Javier from GhostTheory say something I find myself stating more and more lately. It goes a little something like this, “At first I really liked Ghost Hunters, but anymore…”
The dot-dot-dot part is then filled in with what they’re noticing is lacking from this once must-see show.
Here’s how I see it:
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE ULTIMATE POSERS
Back in September I wrote an article called “The Ghost Hunters Effect: Oprah-esque Boon for Non-Profits.” I detailed how thanks to the popularity of ghost TV shows, in particular Ghost Hunters, all sorts of museums, state parks, historic sites, etc. are realizing revenue from offering ghost tours or hosting ghost hunts.
Ghost Hunters, with its everyman stars Jason and Grant at the helm, stormed on the scene and gave ghost enthusiasts genuine, down to earth people to cheer for. We liked their style. We liked their approach. They were instantly credible. They charmed us. So what if they debunked most everything? We didn’t mind spending an hour each week with them.
And, yes, they’ve unintentionally done a great job of getting people not only interested in paranormal investigations, but they’ve also motivated them to get up and off the couch to try it for themselves. Or at least to just get out and go see some of the places the GH team has been.
However, as good as they’ve been for paranormal tourism, they’ve been equally bad (if not worse) for paranormal research.Why?
Because of all the GH spin-offs (Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy) and myriad other ghost shows on TV now too (Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, Ghost Lab, and Extreme Paranormal. The one exception to this list is Most Haunted, which has been on TV as long if not longer than Ghost Hunters.)
Now we have all these “ghost experts” who are really just posers. Even Jason and Grant. (Hey, it’s not personal. I like the guys, but I have to call it as I see it and they are most definitely posers. And don’t even get me started on the damage Ghost Hunters Academy is going to do. There is more than one way to investigate than the one GH knows how to do.)
The only thing “expert” about Jason and Grant, or Zak Bagans, Yvette Fielding, Ryan Buell, or any of the other stars of their shows, is that they’ve all turned their hobbies into jobs.
And their job? Being a reality star. None of them are real investigators. They only play one on TV.
“WHERE’S THE BEEF?”
Some will think I’m being a tad cruel, but come on. Where’s the actual research? Where’s the use of the scientific method? Where’s experimentation with different approaches? (To Ghost Lab’s credit, they do at least throw out hypotheses and try different techniques, even if they don’t produce results.)
But at the end of the day, regardless of the show, it’s the same story: none of the “experts” find any concrete evidence. They look good using the equipment and the editors do a good job of piecing together cliffhangers before commercials, but (borrowing from a famous ’80s line), “Where’s the beef?”
Nowhere, because it doesn’t exist.
It’s kind of like John Scott Lewinski pointed out in his TV Squad Article “Ghost Lab haunted by a dispiriting lack of spirits”:
If a show like Top Chef never found a meal, would you watch it? If Ice Road Truckers couldn’t find snow, would you pay attention?
Yet, every week, paranormal investigation shows like Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State hit the air and unveil the whole pile of absolute squat they found.
Or the Ghost TV article from Cracked.com, which posed two scenarios: (1) Find Ghosts with steps how to proceed, or (2) Find No Ghosts and create a TV show.
And I guess at the end of the day that’s what’s bugging me. I’d like to see there be a little more legitimacy and a little less kitsch.
Because for those of us who would like to see some real investigating these shows are only fueling the laughingstock fire, not furthering true research. And at the rate these shows are popping up everywhere, it won’t be long before being a ghost enthusiast goes from being cool back to being ridiculed.