Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Have Ghost Hunting Shows Helped or Hurt the Industry?
When “Ghost Hunters” first came out, I was intrigued. I’d been hunting for some time and wondered how you could base a show on such a lame and boring hobby. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that a lot of people haven’t been poking around old haunted places in search of phenomenon. To them, this was dark and scary and forbidden territory.
Considering most people at the time still thought of Ouija boards and séances as the main way to speak to the other side (Victorian era methods), I was glad that TAPS was showing folks that we are more into verification nowadays than into theatrics.
There were huge ramifications of the appearance of this team and their show. One of them is that regular folks wanted to seek out phenomenon. This is good. All we have in the end is anecdotal stories. We really don’t have ways to verify what we experience,so if these people leave with stories to tell of their encounters, they have left themselves puzzled, perplexed and seeking answers. The more of us out there seeking answers to this weird shit, the better.
As well, TAPS showed people that you need to stop, take a breath, and find reasonable explanations for occurrences. Most everything is “this world” explainable. They also showed that you can follow a planned set of methods to do this, i.e. tagging on your EVPs, pairing up members so there are fewer occupants, interviewing clients to decide where to place cameras and recorders. Keeping creditibility should top the list of priorities.
There is always good with the bad and bad with the good. That is probably one of my top 4 beliefs about life, along with the serenity prayer about knowing what you can change and what you can’t change, the golden rule about treating others as you want to be treated and the threefold rule of pagans (i.e. karma).
In the case of GH, the bad came in many unexpected forms. First, their inadaptable and unbending methods created a community of play-alikes who follow the “Church of TAPS” and emulate them without question. This being said, they just made it so the field is a dead end for new knowledge. Had they emulated openness in trying new things, adapting their thinking and enjoying bringing in others with other methods, they might have taught an open-minded ghost hunting technique that would get us somewhere. Right now, following TAPS is like circling a cul-de-sac endlessly chasing one's tail.
Another bad outcome of the popularity of ghost hunting has been the cropping up of make-shift teams everywhere. It was such a popular hobby at its heyday around 2005 that most historic sites cringed when approached by teams. Old quaint B&Bs were suddenly turning away ghost hunters because of yahoo beer-drinking teams parading their hallways with instruments while paying clients were trying to sleep.
An ideal example of good with bad: Historic buildings like abandoned prisons and asylums have a way to make income now to keep them standing and not torn down. The bad part of this: They have to invite in ghost hunters whom they charge to tromp up and down the halls. There are no plans to revise these buildings. The rustic and raw look of them works to their advantage to bring in more hunting groups.
I won’t even begin to cover shows like “Paranormal State,” “Ghost Adventures,” “Ghost Lab” and others. The fact is that they mostly showed slick editing, mood and atmosphere and horrible and ignorant techniques like burying magical coins on properties and taunting the dead (cringe).
Has it helped us having ghost hunting shows? The only improvement in my life as a hunter is that people no longer freak out when they hear I hunt. The biggest detriment is that other hunts are J&G robots and refuse to try new techniques, equipment or methods so I have to play it alone or with a small group of open-minded folks.
Whether the shows are here or not, I was hunting before and I will continue to hunt until the answers for me seem more solid and less liquid.