There is an overwhelming sigh amongst the eager ghost hunting fans from 2005-2008. The peak of "Ghost Hunters" and the half dozen or more offshoot look-a-like shows brought with it eager reality show watchers who wanted to live vicariously through Steve and Brian, Jason and Grant.
The last few years, however, the bloom is off the rose.
As a hunter before the show even came out, I was surprised anyone would do a show about ghost hunting. It's such a tedious and often times unrewarding and boring hobby. How the hell was someone going to make it into a career and one that viewers would want to watch for a full hour once a week?
Basically, they're basing a show on a bunch of people in a dark building for hours on end, listening closely and jumping to conclusions. Imagine a show where it's just people in a tent in the woods listening to every acorn falling and leaf rustling and getting all worked up thinking it's all cougars and bears? At first, the show would be kind of thrilling, but after six or eight episodes with not so much as a skunk showing itself, you might turn the channel.
So far as GH's impact on how the average person views on the paranormal world, it has helped shed new light on the field of ghost hunting. As crude as it still is, we have gone a long way from Victorian era seances and cheesecloth ectoplasm sideshows.
But, we are still literally and figuratively shooting in the dark.
I have an enormous amount of personal experiences, but so far as hardcore evidence is concerned, it sifts through my fingers like sand. I can use an EMF meter, but other than hearsay that it's measuring ghostly activity, all I can guarantee is that it will pick up electrical activity in the room which can only tell me that this house is wired for lights! I can use my camera but it's almost surely going to pick up nothing but dust particles or things in the infrared spectrum.
We still can't prove a damn thing.
What's next for the field? Oh, I have no doubt that J&G will manage more seasons, as SyFy has not seen quite the cash cow with its other pitiful shows. So, they might just pay off that New England inn and manage to do books and speaking engagements and show up for mass hunts at famous locations for as long as they wish and never wear a plumber's gear again.
But, for those of us who remain active in the field, where do we go?
Unfortunately, corrupted by the methodology of TAPS, the teams that grew around the country in their image will continue on with the same routine, the same instruments, and the same explanations for what the paranormal is. Those of us who existed BGHS (Before Ghost Hunters Show) will continue on as before, determining by our experiences with the paranormal, just how we can capture proof of it, repeat incidences, find commonalities and factors to help us form theories and test them.
It's not glamorous. If viewers had to watch the hours of evidence review, the petty bickering, the investigators falling asleep in the middle of a hunt, they would tune out.
I truly think that GH might have had a better run if they kept them as plumbers trying to work nights at hunting, working from a trailer with cobbled together equipment and fighting with their wives about pissing away the kids' college funds. Now, that's reality.
There were moments early in the show's run when the personalities made it even more interesting to watch, when Brian was f'ing up and Jason was scared to proclaim anything haunted. They were like Duff and the gang at the cake shop in "Ace of Cakes." Somewhere along the line, however, the team began to lose its personality, became jilted and sterile, and way too cordial with each other as if they never spoke to each other outside of filming.
It will go down in history as THE ghost hunting show. But it will be the last big one.
It's just as well they don't pump out more of these. There's only so much "give us a sign of your presence's" that we can withstand.
I don't doubt that the newbie hunters will grow bored and weary and leave the industry all together. The ones left over are the ones who were always steadfastly doing it for the right reasons and not being taken in by popular pseudoscience. I'd like to see more of it enter into lab environments and experimentation with more input from inventors and scientists.
One thing I know for sure, people will not stop hunting ghosts because we will continue to run into phenomenon and ponder its origins.
It may not be hip anymore, but it will still live on.
P.S. How do I get someone to give me a show where I make money scampering around abandoned sites? Sign me up, please. I want to get paid for something I'm already doing for my own spare time. How the hell did TAPS get that gig???