Thursday, 17 May 2012

Only for Addicted to Paranormal TV Shows

by Viviana Gomez - May 17, 2012

Are you addicted to paranormal TV shows? I can’t help it. I go from one to another looking for that something that I never really find. I don’t consider myself a believer, neither a skeptic and that’s the problem. I belong, like many others; to that group in the middle looking for that elusive evidence to validate or not our suspicious about the existence of paranormal phenomena. The term 'Paranormal' is defined as a phenomenon or an experience that is beyond or unexplained by conventional theories of science.

Paranormal television shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures are becoming incredibly popular. We watch them, then, to give proof and validation to some of our experiences or fears. If anyone is looking for more scientific proof, rather than anecdotal evidence, these shows promote to provide that.

The paranormal/supernatural-investigation subgenre has cropped up on cable television over the last few years, which includes “Ghost Hunters,” “Destination Truth,” “Ghost Adventures,” “Ghost Hunters International”, “Fact or Faked” and a few others. Each one promises to take a skeptical approach in its investigations and to rely on science to confirm or disprove paranormal claims. So far not one has been able to consistently keep that promise, but we still watching them hoping that in one episode that promise will fulfilled.

The ghost-reality genre has become so diversified that it has spread across the major programming subcategories: children (“Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal”), animals (“The Haunted”), celebrities (“Celebrity Ghost Stories”). And it keeps growing. “Ghost Hunters Academy,” the second spinoff of Syfy’s “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Intervention,” about a team of female psychics who help families de-spook their houses, “Long Island Medium”, typical Long Island mom who talks to the dead on TLC.

In my research, I found that the recent wave of TV shows, movies and books devoted to paranormal phenomena are actually part of a larger trend incorporating alternate realities that a realm media analyst would call hyper-reality. The way consciousness defines what is actually "real" in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience.

In an era, where parallel universes are mathematics's possibilities, black holes defy the concept of time and computer's applications can be moved with our fingers in a digital table, everything could be possible, even ghosts.

Another reason these shows are so popular is because of the age-old thrill of being scared. It's the same reason people wait in line to see midnight showings of The Sixth Sense or Paranormal Activity: people like being scared. It is kind of fun to go watch a movie and cover your eyes and jump at all the right places. Similarly, when watching paranormal television shows, that same thrill exists, though to a lesser degree.


Skepticism Failure 

"In movies and TV series about the paranormal, the stereotypical "skeptic" figure always seems to convert into a believer by the end. And why does this occur? Well, because in fiction, the author can control the laws of nature, and in these fictional narratives (which show an abundant lack of creativity), the supernatural always turns out to be real."
— Chris Mooney, 'Hollywood's Offensive and Deeply Unoriginal "Skeptic Conversion" Narrative'

The paranormal has a way of creeping into TV shows, even those which don't have a paranormal premise. In real life, being skeptical of various paranormal forces is the default, and, so long as it's not just as dogmatic in its own ways, the best option. On TV, characters are far less likely to express any doubt, and those who are skeptical are often treated as naive or ignorant, and the plot will go out of its way to prove them wrong.

This also comes into play in shows that deal regularly with paranormal subjects. Characters, who don't believe in aliens, magic, or whatever, are presented as hopelessly naive. Even when they're proven right about the main conflict being a hoax, something about the situation will turn out to be Real After All.

Ironically the more heavily focused on the paranormal a show is; the less likely this seems to be the case. In settings with a Masquerade ordinary people are often depicted as being so utterly skeptical that clear evidence of paranormal goings on is dismissed with a flimsy and wildly implausible 'rational' explanation, which itself is a form of skepticism failure.

There is truth in Television in that people do believe in "mystical" things without proof. It just depends on exactly which things and who is being asked to believe.


An Educated Paranormal Culture.

Most recently analysis suggests a cultural resurgent interest in things it can’t see and is expressed only in terms of fantasy in the polite society of the traditional networks, but can be taken seriously in the more populist environment of basic cable. In this context the ghost-hunting shows become part of a course catalogue of what is, more than anything, educational programming.

The viewer who is so inclined can spend the day in a certain band of the cable-television spectrum, switching from a paranormal show on A&E to a documentary about Hitler on the History Channel to a killer-asteroid report on Discovery to a talk show on Fox News, in a feedback loop that will reinforce any number of received notions about history, fate, conspiracy, the ruling caste and word cataclysm.

The audience of paranormal shows has a loyal component and creates a culture based in group, fans, forums and communities, reinforced by the social media that increase even more the feeling of complicity and interest for these particular phenomena.

A more deep analysis reveals some sign of mature in the audience that follows reality ghost buntings or paranormal witness testimonies. A need to elevate the subject into a new level is evident in shows like “Fact or Faked”, “Decode”, “Weird or What”. These shows based on paranormal phenomenon or extraordinary events, intent to capture the attention of the audience with scientific investigation and analysis that explain, proof or discard these experiences as true or false ones.

From using highly sensitive recorders to detect Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs) to using infrared cameras to see the outlines of ghosts that might be in the room, these teams have no shortage of science-related gadgets to collect evidence of paranormal activity. For even the most skeptical person, this evidence might be difficult to ignore.

We cannot deny that things that we cannot see or hear may actually exist. Quantum Physics has shocked the scientific community with its contrary-to-normally-held-theories in Physics, but we can not deny the amount of hoax, fake, edition or misunderstanding of a pretended paranormal phenomenon exposed in a TV show. I am part of that audience, dancing between all these possibilities, and there is where my addiction to the paranormal phenomena lies and feeds.

Are you an addicted to paranormal TV shows?


References
·        TV Skeptic: 'Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files' looks at the real 'Battle of L.A.' -- Ed Stockly

·        Consigning Reality to Ghosts Twitter by MIKE HALE
Published: December 10, 2009 in New York Times

·        How 'Paranormal Activity' Hit It Big
The Low-Budget Horror Film May Become One of Year's Most Profitable

·        How 'Paranormal Activity' Hit It Big
The Low-Budget Horror Film May Become One of Year's Most Profitable
By: Andrew Hampp NEW YORK (AdAge.com)






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