A ghost of a chance
I think Pink Floyd said it best, although they vastly underestimated the scope of the problem:
“I got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from.”
Lately something from the strange world of the paranormal has begun to pierce my consciousness. I’m talking about, of course, the Travel Channel’s steaming pile of dung known as “Ghost Adventures.”
This is how it works: Three actors hear about a “haunted” place and like a team of Ghostbusters rush to check it out. They talk to alleged eyewitnesses and even historians to learn about the location, then they wait until it’s dark, turn on their spooky greenish nightvision cameras, then say things like “this feels so creepy” as they loiter around in the dark.
Sometimes they get belligerent and rude towards the ghosts and say things like, “I double dog dare you to show yourself. I command you hither, and I’m gonna kick your ass.”
At the end of the show they regroup to study tapes of their “experiences” and come to some conclusions. “Sure, about 95 percent of those energy balls were probably dust and insects, which means about five percent remain unexplained.” Oooooh. It almost sounds like they know what they’re talking about.
In one snippet of the show I happened to see one of the guys was holding a device that looked like it came from the local Radio Shack. It had numbers in a display, like “22.2.” Whatever that means. (Allegedly “EMF” readings.) Suddenly something came close. The guys were doing some mighty fine acting but whatever it was apparently couldn’t be seen by cameras and people like us. Then the little electronic device was shown again, only this time, it was no longer functional! OMG! That proves the paranormal dude must have fried it. I believe in Ghostbuster parlance this is known as, “He slimed me.”
Curious, I went to the Travel Channel to learn about the qualifications of these actors.
Zak Bagans, the “action hero” and “lead investigator” graduated from film school in Michigan then moved to Las Vegas to pursue a career in documentary film making.
Nick Groff, listed as “investigator,” apparently has even less qualifications than Zak. His bio simply talks about things he likes to do.
Aaron Goodwin, the “Cameraman and Equipment Technician,” has the qualifications of “falling in love with film” and “teaching himself how to edit video and operate a camera.”
Noticing a trend yet? Yeah, these are actors and film makers. Apparently that’s as close as these guys get to qualifications.
So how do they do it? One thing they do is interpret noise. “What was that bump?” “Did you hear that?” On some indecipherable noises they put captions, as if to imply that some paranormal intelligence was actually communicating. “I want cake” they caption on the screen as you hear a totally indecipherable hiss. I mean, come on! There isn’t even a hint for us to even imagine of the things they claim to see and hear.
Another technique in their bag of tricks is to jerk the camera around and/or point it at the floor or ceiling to indicate when they have been startled or scared. This is usually accompanied by an off-camera sound and the actor saying something like, “I felt something approach and touch my hand and arm.” On the other hand, that sound could simply be the ATM cashing the latest checks from their advertisers.
I do kinda like these guys, though, so I want to do them a solid. I’ve come up with a new Pink Floydsian advertising campaign for them. It’s a TV sitting in a pile of poop. On the TV is running green night vision footage of these boys camping out in the haunted castle, probably eating Scooby Snacks. And the voice over goes, “You got 800 channels of shit to choose from. Once in a while why not make it this shit?”