[Editor’s Note: Portions of this article were originally written as a part of RFSHQ.com’s lineup on May 15th, 2006 (“Afterlife TV”). Excerpts have been modified and new content has been added to it since its original posting.]
It’s Halloween and I’d like to be the first writer on GatorAIDS.com to usher in the holiday and wish you all the best, and by “all the best” I mean don’t eat razor blade apples and if you see Michael Jackson in his Thriller get up then he is actually a zombie and you should run. Halloween is that time of the year when everybody fawns over spooky stuff and television networks air all of their scary programming. Nickelodeon is airing special “Spooktacular” episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, Cartoon Network is beating Goosebumps into the ground (which is not even a cartoon great job), American Movie Classics is showing their stock of so-bad-it’s-great horror flicks, and C-SPAN is… well they are just doing business as-is because on any given day watching the American government system self destruct is scary in its own right.
Perhaps the most recognizable facet of Halloween though is Syfy’s annual marathon of their Ghost Hunters show, one of many shows on television that manage to never actually produce anything worthwhile but still get greenlit for second, third, and fourth seasons. Television shows like Travel Channel’s Most Haunted and Syfy’s Ghost Hunters are so poorly faked that they essentially become programming that would be better suited as late night drunken frat boy fodder on Comedy Central.
Ghost Hunters has such a knack for not delivering that even their crappy promotional desktop image has a Photoshopped ghost in it because to this day they haven’t captured a single apparition in any of their 105 episodes. Yes, you heard me right — one hundred and five episodes — six of which are “specials”. Ghost Hunters relies mostly on scare tactics and suspense to keep people watching. The first 3/4 of any given episode is simply footage of them running around in abandoned scary-looking places asking each other if they have seen or heard anything, none of which they capture on tape. I very much would like to see that shadowy figure walking around in the corner, but the problem is that your fancy night vision camera is currently set on 100x zoom and is pointed at your eye while you are crapping your pants over nothing.
In another episode a group of explorers tried channeling spirits by placing a glass cup on what looked like a TV tray; they then proceeded to each place a hand on the glass and ask the spirit questions. If this sounds suspiciously like a Ouija board idea then you are absolutely right and everybody knows Ouija boards are toys. The official US Patent documents on Ouija boards even list them as such. Ouija boards operate on a phenomena called the Ideomotor effect which is basically a big five dollar word for “you are subconsciously moving the damn thing by yourself”. It is also worth noting that on an episode of Bullshit! with Penn & Teller they debunked Ouija boards by having a group of wiccans ask a question and get an “answer” except they blindfolded the participants and then turned the board backwards without telling them. They still moved the piece to where “YES” or “NO” would normally be because they had memorized the orientation of the board in their heads and also because this shit is totally fucking fake.
As you can imagine the people in the Ghost Hunters show were freaking out when their little shot glass started flying all over the place. I’m pretty certain if ghosts really are among us they would have better things to do than move a glass around on a table.
The cast of Ghost Hunters looks professional for being a group of people who chase the invisible equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster and calling them “professional” is kind of a backhanded compliment. They have enough gadget and gizmos on-hand at any given time that I’m surprised they just don’t drive the Ghostbusters hearse around and call it a day. One of their favorite things to do besides mumbling into microphones and calling it EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) is to wield infrared cameras wherever they go. Infrared cameras are essentially heat vision cameras that show a spectrum of color rather than an image on tape; the color determines how hot or cold something is. It’s a widely known “fact” that ghosts create cold spots wherever they are. I am not sure if this has ever been officially substantiated or if it’s just something someone said in a movie once but regardless our ghost hunting buddies take this as serious business.
I will never forget the time that they entered this stonewall room with their cameras and instantly began freaking out over their temperature readings, namely the fact that the floor was cold and the ceiling was hot. They must have been absent that day in Common Sense 101 where the teacher informed everyone that heat rises. I am willing to forgive TAPS though because seeing as how they’ve probably lived in basements their whole lives they haven’t had much firsthand contact entering floors in buildings that are above ground rather than under it. Perhaps my favorite slip-up is when a group of two female TAPS “officers” were screwing around in a room (and I don’t mean “screwing around” as something sexy, I mean they were acting like retards) and got some “strange” readings on their camera. They said, and I quote “it’s nothing, it was just our reflection in that mirror over there.”
Really? A reflection? A temperature reflection? What the hell kind of mirror is THAT. If that mirror reflects temperatures from across the room you had better take it because while it’s not paranormal that’s a definite scientific anomaly. No, it doesn’t reflect temperatures, you’re just a damn moron and Syfy is just doing their best to try and make good TV which is something they have perpetually struggled with. If their infrared camera was pointed at the mirror the mirror would have been the same color as the wall it was hanging on. The only explanation for their “anomaly” is one of them pointed the camera at another TAPS member and seriously thought she was a ghost.
Ghost Hunters relies on tired old television “cliffhangers” to keep people watching as well as basing their “evidence” entirely off of things that viewers at home simply cannot experience through their television sets and must take their word for it. I am talking about things like “gusts of cool wind”, strange smells, and hearing a bunch of clicks, knocks, or voices that strangely dodge their camera. The only qualifications required for being a cast member on that show are two things: an overactive imagination and nerves like those of a cornered mouse.
It’s probably a little rude of me to step on people’s toes because apparently there is a sizable fanbase for this crap otherwise they would have never made it to 100 episodes. Ghost Hunters is fueled largely out of Everyman’s strong desire to know what happens after death and if the spirits of their loved ones still linger around in their houses and it’s truly a very vulnerable demographic to prey upon with falsified evidence and nonsensical “evaluations”, but then again the other demographic who gets into this show are socially retarded and will believe anything that gets thrown at them so whatever. As long as you get that paycheck at the end of the day, right?