Sometimes, I take great pleasure criticizing the paranormal television shows. I like to question techniques, poke fun at personalities, and laugh at the wardrobe choices – the list is long. I enjoy ranting and raving about that which runs contrary to my own practices and experience, but admittedly, I still watch as many of these programs as I can. Gathering more grist for the criticism mill? More easy targets for yet another unkind remark? No, I just like watching them.
I know that much of what we see is staged – or worse, and when things do appear to be credible, I am aware that they probably are not. I’ve been on more than enough real investigations to know what’s up, and I’ve poured over enough evidence to have confidence in what I finally present, so most of what I see on these shows is old hat to me now. It’s certainly true that at this point, I’ve probably surpassed the threshold of what I can learn from them. So again, why watch? Again, because I like them.
Let’s be honest. Almost every one of us currently doing anything within the paranormal field owes a debt of gratitude to these ghost hunters. Jason and Grant threw open the doors, while Zak and the boys dragged us in. Our fascinations may have been lying dormant in the heap of millennial culture, but these early shows taught us that it was okay to act on them. For all of us who wondered if there really were people who studied the paranormal; who secretly wanted to join that team, paranormal tv showed us that it was not only possible, but doable.
Their contribution to popular culture is unquestionable, but the legacy they’ve left us, their professional progeny, is priceless. They’re the reason we do the things we do, and hopefully we’ve taken their techniques and innovations and improved on them. Hopefully we value the culture of their work highly enough to expand upon it; take it seriously enough to understand that our own contributions can only build upon theirs. Maybe that’s why I feel such a strong sense of betrayal whenever I find fault, or have a laugh at their expense. Because I owe them.
I remember watching a 2004 episode of Ghost Hunters (my first) that included a chair moving on its own in an attic. That episode has since been questioned for its authenticity, but at the time, I literally leaped to my feet to get closer to the screen. I had just started my EVP research and was feeling kinda dumb about the whole thing. I questioned everything about it – including my own sanity, but that singular moment gave me hope. It instantly expanded my paranormal horizons and showed me that there might just be as much to it all as I thought. In a way, that one episode gave me the strength to continue, and as with all truly cathartic moments in life, changed me forever.
But it wasn’t real, you might say – possibly disingenuous. It doesn’t matter, because it moved me. It propelled me head first into a field of study that has taught me more about myself; about life in general, than I ever could have hoped for, and like some modern parable, it was inspirational. I remember standing there, watching that small clip of video, and knowing that not only could I continue, but that there was value in doing so.
So, gratitude is definitely called for, I think. Respect, appreciation, and admiration as well – for all the obvious reasons, but also for opening my eyes and ears; for awakening a side of my spiritual self that was truly going to waste; for challenging the fear within and transforming it into knowledge. And to all those trailblazers – especially those guys on tv decked out in night vision green and infrared splendor, much love. I don’t know where I’d be without you, but I’m glad I’m not there.
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.