Written by Leslie Valentin
It’s been just over a decade since reality television hit the air waves and captivated audiences of all ages. Regardless of the subject, it seems if you can do it, then it is bankable. The catch to this type of media entertainment is the “anyone can do it” approach. Whether it is repossessing cars or chasing ghosts. The aura of “real” people instead of “actors” stimulates the imagination of all ages in the sense of “I want to do that when I grow up!”
Ghost hunting shows began airing in the mid 2000’s, and presented different angles for each show. Two of the bigger shows airing are Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters, have caused an almost “cult” like following. However, like many other shows of different genre, the “real” people started adding in people from the entertainment industry rather than bringing in everyday “Joes” who have lived their lives with the paranormal. In addition, some episodes became laughable at the least when other “celebs” were brought into the mix on Ghost Hunters to ghost hunt such as:
The Real Housewives of Atlanta – 2010 Episode
CM Punk – 2006 – Halloween Special
The Miz – 2008 Halloween Special
Ghost Adventures, premiered on the SyFy channel as a documentary film in 2007 and now airs on the Travel Channel with Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin. The show gives the “Come get me and scare me” approach by standing off with spirits for reactive results.
Ghost Hunters, of the SyFy channel stars Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. Originally the duos were Plumbers by day and Ghost Hunters by night. Now, due to demand, their primary focus is the ghost hunting while they keep an honorary status with Roto-Rooter. The show first aired in 2004. The show takes an investigative approach with other members of the TAPS team working with different equipment to rule out a physical cause vs. a paranormal cause. Spin off series are: Ghost Hunters International, UFO Hunters and Ghost Hunters Academy.
Ghost Hunters International premiered in 2008 but the locations are not set in one country like Ghost Hunters. Jetting around the world to different alleged haunted places, the crew investigates using the same approach as with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, use different pieces of equipment to investigate paranormal activity.
Some of the investigators from the different shows over time are or have been:
Robb Demarest of GHI – from Albany, New York, is an ESL Teacher, and has been interested in the paranormal since early childhood.
Barry Fitzgerald of GHI – from Dublin, Ireland, is Photographer & Author
Andy Andrews – from Rhode Island, is an Autism Teacher & founder of R.I. Paranormal
Shannon Sylvia of GHI – from Massachusetts, is a self employed Graphic Designer & is thought to be a witness as a child who was haunted in her home which is the location of King Phillips War.
Donna LaCroix formerly of GH –from Rhode Island, is a Project Manager and Marketing specialist who has devoted most of her life to the paranormal.
Dustin Pari of GHI – from Providence, Rhode Island, has been interested in the paranormal since childhood, and has been doing paranormal investigations since he was a teen with his friends at area “hot spots”.
Joe Chin of GHI – from Providence, Rhode Island, worked with the family business and grew up in a building with alleged paranormal activity.
Amy Bruni of GH – from California, grew up in a haunted house which the family accepted. She has been interested since childhood in the paranormal and is a radio producer.
Kris Williams of GH – from Lowell, Massachusetts, is a model and actress.
The hype of these shows has caused reactions both good and bad. More and more, people want to “experience” the unknown, and it seems that a new paranormal investigation group is created on a fairly regular basis. It seems that if you want to get “famous” you need to be a paranormal investigator.
A down side to this paranormal rave is that cemeteries are being desecrated, properties are being trespassed upon, and laws are being broken. People are spending countless dollars on places who will “certify” them as official ghost hunters or investigators as well as money on “official” ghost hunting gear.
For folks who have lived their lives with the paranormal either as residents in places which have more than just living occupants, or as Mediums, Empaths, Sensitives, Psychics, Parapsychologists or in other fields dealing with ghosts, it makes life a little more interesting. This is due to the enthusiasts and fame seekers who are claiming abilities or experience in the field but lack the actual understanding of what it is to have contact with the paranormal. Unsuspecting folks call upon these people for help and quite often are left with a bitter taste in their mouth for the way a particular situation was handled. Then there are those who claim they can “vanquish” ghosts and demons. Again, negative reports are made and those who truly do have experience and tack are left holding broken pieces and the skeptics cackle even more.
The field of paranormal research and study is vastly wide and one must understand that despite having experience in a field, does not mean that one has all the answers to why something is happening. Also, because one is an Empath or a Psychic or is a Medium does not mean that each person has the same development of skills. It is important to understand that people are born with the ability to communicate and interact with the spirit world, but due to society’s teachings, many lose that ability by going with the passing of time due to the norms that society teaches.
It is a sad state of affairs when teens tell me that they want to be just like Zak Bagans and confront those ghosts. Why anyone would pick a fight with someone living or dead is just plain stupid, not to mention lacking some serious common sense. It is a reckless act of behavior being taught to kids by the media industry for allowing that type of behavior to be displayed. Another problem that is growing is when folks asking for help with paranormal activity actually have some form of mental illness. The groups that claim they can disband spirits and stop these manifestations are a detriment to these persons who actually need medical help and not ghost hunter help. This is simply because they do not take the time to do a thorough interview first.
People need to realize and understand that what they see on reality television is strictly for entertainment value only and nothing more. Folks who truly offer their services for paranormal related issues do not get rich or make oodles of money because there is a spook about a house. Instead, most of these folks are “unknowns” because they keep their services reputable and their clients private. The folks who are making the money are the actual shows themselves by roping in countless amounts of viewers tuning in for yet another episode of ghost hunting. The stars of the show are being paid not by those they are providing a service to, but by the producers of the show who are making them stars.
So to wrap this all up, a very much needed public service announcement would be to tell your children not to try this at home. If you are truly interested in the paranormal, learn as much as you can about it. Take time to get to know a group of people who do investigations. But in the end remember this: What you see on television….is Hollywood!