Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 9 - Ghost Hunters

     Hopefully this won't be the point where I lose too many people. It's a show that's a point of contempt for many horror fans and fans or believers of the paranormal. I'll do my best to defend it's appearance on the list. 

     I'll qualify first and say I'm a quasi-believer in the paranormal. I'm a pretty easy sell because I think it's cool, I want there to be rare, interesting things going on beneath the humdrum day-to-day experiences of life. Like the Mothman. I want to believe, to quote a poster. And I think there have been enough experiences that otherwise sane, believable people have had where by reporting it they gain nothing but the risk of being labeled a loon, there's been enough that I feel perfectly comfortable in allowing for the genuine possibility of something strange in the neighborhood. I feel more comfortable with that than saying ALL of these people are stupid or crazy or lying or some combination of those. Some? Yeah. A lot? Probably. But all? I'll always be a healthy skeptic, but it's important for me to always remember that being a skeptic means questioning everything, not denying everything full stop.

     Secondly, Ghost Hunters has, maybe just cause I'm a sucker, a lot of sincerity to it. Though maybe more so in the early years before it become a commodity. Ghost Hunters came along in a magical time when "reality" shows weren't actually just cheap sitcoms with crappy writing and acting. Where having asinine, fake characters whose catchphrases you could stamp on T-shirts wasn't a prerequisite for producing the show. Seriously, reality TV is awful. The absolute worst. But not the point right now. *ahem* Unlike the shows the came out in its wake, Ghost Hunters does feel like real people doing investigations. They aren't spouting one-liners in the talking head segments and winking, each episode doesn't have an underlying, behind-the-scenes B-story that neatly fits into each hour. No, the show only focuses on the task at hand. And often that task at hand results with no convincing evidence. Regardless of what you believe and how you value their methods and credentials, at the least, what I'm watching feels like genuine people going about their business how they want and not being forced into wacky situations by TV executives. With all the members of the team, I believe that they believe in what they're doing, and that counts for something in my book.

     I mention that plenty of episodes are inconclusive at best, and to me that lends credibility to the show as a whole. I know what your thinking, "But that's the perfect plan, don't you see? You couldn't have every episode feature a free-floating, full-torso, vaporous apparition, that'd be too incredible! SciFi(I will never type SyFy beyond this single time) has to make it seem realistic, show them go on several dud hunts, sprinkle in some mildly intriguing video or audio evidence occasionally..and then hit us with a real whammy only a few times a season!" I admit that makes sense, but I think it's too clever and restrained for TV executives to commit to. I think, if the show was entirely fake or heavily manipulated, the allure of creating wowee-wow-wow episodes would be too much to resist. I also feel it would be impossible to have this many episodes and this many investigations all around the country that there'd be a slip up somewhere and beans would've been spilled on any fakiness. Like many conspiracy theories, the idea tends to fall apart when you factor in how many would be involved and would have to be compliant.

     So there's my defense. Looking beyond that now, I really enjoy the aforementioned straightforwardness. Hear a little bit of history for a location, go there and investigate, review their tapes and reveal what(if anything) they catch. Simple. I like getting to explore older buildings and properties and learn some of their story. The show has an eerie atmosphere without feeling like it's laying it on too thick. There have been more than enough impressive pieces of evidence over the years, short video clips or fuzzy EVP recordings, that when experienced fully within their context have given me jeebies as heebie as any good horror movie. In the end, that's what makes it worth putting on this list, that it's managed to consistently spook me.

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