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It's official; Ghost Hunters fakes it



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Paul Kimball

Guest
Having hosted a ghost investigation series last year, let me just say that I've never been a fan of these kinds of shows. However, you have to remember that it's television, which is primarily about entertainment, not information.

I would also be careful about using the word "fake." There is a big difference between knowingly perpetrating a fraud on your audience by lying (i.e. faking) and doing some recreations and reshoots that are reflective of what has actually happened or been reported.

Take this clip from Ghost Cases:


It should be obvious to anyone that time has been compressed here, and the sequence of events has been edited to make it conform to the needs of a 1/2 hour television program. I was in the basement for about an hour in total, and Holly and Kelly's session upstairs lasted about 35 - 40 minutes longer than that. So, by compressing the time, one could say that we "faked" what happened - except we didn't fake anything. What you see happening really happened - we just made things move faster in certain spots because it's entertainment.

Television producers / directors / performers have a fine line to walk. Before you call them fakes, you need to understand the nature of that line, accept that it exists, and then judge each program on whether they crossed that line or not.

Paul

P.S. :)

 

softbeard

Skilled Investigator
...you need to understand the nature of that line, accept that it exists, and then judge each program on whether they crossed that line or not.
That's all fine, but it would probably help to make the audience explicitly aware of these conditions. Like with a disclaimer blurb, ormaybe with a small logo over the video.
As for these 'Ghost Hunter' shows, all I've ever watched was their adds; and that was enough to turn me off. I never really understood their popularity, except maybe some people enjoyed the campy atmosphere. For me, they comitted a cardinal sin when they wanted to be taken seriously.
 
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Paul Kimball

Guest
That's all fine, but it would probably help to make the audience explicitly aware of these conditions. Like with a disclaimer blurb, ormaybe with a small logo over the video.

It's television. That's the only disclaimer that people should need.

Seriously, anyone who thinks that anything on television is a 100% accurate depiction of events is willingly delusion.
 
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Paul Kimball

Guest
Hmm..you call it entertainment. I call it fakery.

Ghost hunting shows have become the lowest common denominator of paranormal hucksterism.

By giving themselves the trappings of science (for instance, walking around using handheld EM detectors and then being SHOCKED when the readings change! Hilariously stupid.) they encourage poor critical thinking skills and generally celebrate dumbness.

That the producers are constantly thinking of ways to punch up the ooga-booga for the masses is a given.
That someone would feel the need apologize for this is rather telling.

I occasionally blog about the ghost shows at: notaghost.com


Lance

As usual Lance, you put words in someone else's mouth, and then talk past them to... I don't know... do you have a cheering section?

I didn't apologize for anything. And it isn't fakery - unless someone deliberately lies about something.

You need to get over yourself. If you don't like the show, whatever that show is, then turn the channel. You'll survive, and it won't be the end of the world.

The good news is that you've given me lots of grist for the filmmaking mill - I think my next doc will be on the subculture of people (I might call them "Moodyists") who claim that they think the entire paranormal thing is bogus, followed by rejoinders galore against the foolishness and credulity of the "bleevers." But, like the "'bleevers," they just can't seem to get enough.

A psychological / sociological look at that group, and why they feel compelled to do what they do, would be fascianting.

I promise not to fake anything. Why would I - you guys are perfectly amusing just as you are. :)

---------- Post added at 07:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:01 PM ----------

And that's especially true with certain 24/7 so-called "news" networks. :)

It's true of any news organization Gene. They all have editorial slants that creep into reportage, whether from the left, center or right. That's why balance is they key - look at them all, and then sift through it. Someone who will watch CNN or MSNBC, but not Fox, is just as bad as someone who will watch Fox, but not CNN or MSNBC.

The key is not the coverage, by the way - it's the headlines. Newspapers perfected the art of using the headline to shape opinion. I once had an editor show me the same story (about the start of the first Gulf War) with two different headlines. Nothing in the report was different, but the headlines were - depending on which you read, it would shape how you viewed the information.

TV news organizations latched onto it and have been doing it for years, but now so do the Internet outlets, particularly guys like Alex Jones and his ilk.
 

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
The key is not the coverage, by the way - it's the headlines. Newspapers perfected the art of using the headline to shape opinion. I once had an editor show me the same story (about the start of the first Gulf War) with two different headlines. Nothing in the report was different, but the headlines were - depending on which you read, it would shape how you viewed the information.

TV news organizations latched onto it and have been doing it for years, but now so do the Internet outlets, particularly guys like Alex Jones and his ilk.

Indeed, it is also true for tabloid papers, full-sized papers, etc., etc. There's always an agenda to sell ads and build circulation. It's the same for print and broadcast. Same as it ever was.
 

softbeard

Skilled Investigator
It's television....
That's not good enough. There are programs out there claiming to be documentaries, news... If you are adding to it (assuming it's practical), try adding in a way that muddies the waters in the least way possible. Situations that are obvious to you, may not be to someone else. And we can all imagine all kinds of people getting very strange ideas watching entertainment-'documentaries'.
 
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Paul Kimball

Guest
I think some producers and directors in the documentary field still have some integrity and some sense of fair play. As someone working in television and occasionally working on documentaries (for instance, I wrote and edited the ShowTime special We Are Not Vanishing) ,I know from experience that not everyone in the field is a total slimeball, lying and fabricating at will.

As I alluded to earlier, the ones making these super low budget ghost shows are the lowest form of the species. I have met them many times. There is nothing that they won't do to manipulate the audience.

To say that all of TV is at that low level is not accurate. I suppose we are headed that way, though.

Lance

I think it's already at that level, for the most part, which is why I watch very little television - and I never watch ghost related shows, just because I don't find them compelling as a viewer.

---------- Post added at 07:50 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:45 PM ----------

That's not good enough. There are programs out there claiming to be documentaries, news... If you are adding to it (assuming it's practical), try adding in a way that muddies the waters in the least way possible. Situations that are obvious to you, may not be to someone else. And we can all imagine all kinds of people getting very strange ideas watching entertainment-'documentaries'.

With respect, of course it's good enough... because I say it is, and I'm the one making the show (assuming it's my show).

It never ceases to amaze me - audiences claim they don't want to be treated like idiots, or have things dumbed down, but then they seem to want everything spelled out for them.

I assume that people watching are smart enough to tell the difference between a recreation and an actual event in a ghost show (or most any other program). If they're not, well then there's no hope for them.

Good example - one of the few shows I do watch - Deadliest Warrior on Spike. They don't specifically label their recreations as such because it should be obvious to everyone wathcing what's going on.

Using that as a further example - would people consider it "fakery" when DW creates a battle simulation between, say, Jesse James and Al Capone, based on the tests they have run? I should hope not. Then why would it be "fakery" to recreate something in a ghost show (or any other program) based on, for example, witness accounts?

Answer: it isn't.
 

softbeard

Skilled Investigator
With respect, of course it's good enough... because I say it is, and I'm the one making the show (assuming it's my show).
I meant 'it's not good enough' regarding your comment that 'since it's television, that's all the disclaimer you need'. I was being general, I wasn't singling out your productions.
Maybe I should be more specific and start using disclaimers in my posts...
 
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Paul Kimball

Guest
No, that is not fakery--re-creations are an accepted form of storytelling.

But there is what I would call fakery on these shows. For instance, as I documented, on the execrable show Ghost Adventures, calling a mysterious breathing sound paranormal when the all too human crew member is obviously (and clearly on camera) making the sound is a kind of fakery. The way these "investigations" are performed on these shows, with one team in one part of the building another in a different part and crew members walking around everywhere sets things up for the silly noises they hear and exult about. And to me, that is a kind of fakery. Calling a device a Dark Light, and saying that it is designed to shine into the afterlife, when in reality the light is a cheap work lamp (which I found and identified exclusively on my blog) is a kind of fakery.

I have more examples but the gist of it is that whenever these shows present something that they know is probably not paranormal as such (and it happens a lot), I see that as fakery.

Lance

Don't get me wrong Lance - one of the reasons I have never watched a full episode of any other ghost investigation show is because even if they're not faking it, in terms of lying (and this does indeed happen too), they ramp up the situation to make the audience think something is happening when in fact it's not. I view it the same way that I view pro wrestling. There is truth there (wrestlers really do get pounded about), but in the end it's just entertainment, not a real fight... or scientific investigation, as the case may be.

Having done a number of ghost "investigations" I can safely say that it's really, really dull stuff. It's also almost entirely subjective at the end of the day, which I think is fine (and which is the approach we took - a more personal journey for Holly and I), although you can use various instruments like EMF detectors, not to find ghosts, but to see if there may be some natural or man-made cause.

I suppose you either trust the people in front of and behind the camera, or you don't. Have they earned that trust, or have they not?

Back to the original point of the thread, however, I would say that just because a former cast member of one of these shows has leveled charges of fakery, that doesn't mean it actually happened. Anyone who is in or has been in the film & TV business knows that when someone leaves a show, or gets fired, they can get a bit... disgruntled. :rolleyes:

---------- Post added at 09:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:29 PM ----------

I meant 'it's not good enough' regarding your comment that 'since it's television, that's all the disclaimer you need'. I was being general, I wasn't singling out your productions.
Maybe I should be more specific and start using disclaimers in my posts...

And I was being general as well, although you should know that by being general you included my productions as well.

That's the problem with being general. Much better to be a colonel. ;)
 
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Paul Kimball

Guest
I watched an episode of Paranormal State whilst in the US. It was....hilarious.

The train for Paranormal TV shows has come and gone. Time to move on.

Marketing studies within the industry show that it's one of the fastest growing areas of production - cheap to make, with relatively high returns. Expect to see more, not less, in the years to come.
 

dyingsun

Paranormal Adept
Marketing studies within the industry show that it's one of the fastest growing areas of production - cheap to make, with relatively high returns. Expect to see more, not less, in the years to come.

Oh god no...I watched the first season when it came our in ..'99 or 2000, and was genuinely hooked back then, it turned to shit and when MTV is going in....
 

The Pair of Cats

a.k.a Philip Deane
"Ghost Hunter" and "Haunted...anything" style shows are the lowest form of television life. Thank god the puerile efforts produced here in Oz never got off the ground. They were like a lamer version of the US produced ones (if that's possible!!!)
 

Jeff Crowell

Paranormal Annoyance
Marketing studies within the industry show that it's one of the fastest growing areas of production - cheap to make, with relatively high returns. Expect to see more, not less, in the years to come.

Unfortunately, I honestly believe you're wrong, Paul. In the last two seasons I've seen two shows that had caught my eye fade rather quickly; Ghost Lab and Ghost Cops. 'Lab was pretty decent if the two main investigators, the Kling brothers, would calm down. The one Kling brother was far too excitable at the least little thing, even the non-paranormal things. It was pathetic, but I think he was desperate to keep the show on the air. Ghost Cops was so boring I never watched it and heard that people who did typically fell asleep.

The shows are becoming far too gimicky. The gimick of Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State were the whole 'normal people' hunting the paranormal, but Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson are no longer normal people. Nor is Ryan Buel, any more. They're celebrities in their own circles and far more interested in their own interests, financial and fame, than genuine paranormal research. The gimick of their shows is gone, now. The shows are paint-by-the-numbers "investigations" where they go into a place, catch a few faint EVP's, if that, jump at a few shadows, claim to see a few apparitions when the camera's pointed the wrong way, then reveal their lame so-called evidence to the client.

At least in America, the general public has grown tired of this. The curiosity in the topic has faded as many of these shows revert to more desperate measures, such as faking and fraud, to produce the paranormal effects the public wants to see, on camera. The fact of the matter is the paranormal is rare, and it never performs on demand. I seriously believe the peak has been reached and we're on a rapid decline for these shows. Inexpensive to make or not, if they don't bring in the ratings, if no one is actually watching them, the networks won't pick them up.

I could be way off, but from what I'm seeing already, I don't believe that I am.
 

Schuler

Ultrameridional Cynicism Generator
It's obvious that Ghost Hunters and their spinoffs fake stuff. I mean, come on. What always surprised me the most is that even the fake "evidence" on their episodes sucks so epically.

It's childish to say the least. There's that bunch of people in night-vision images, looking very tense and worried, and every time there's a bang or a crack in the house (and well, everyone knows old houses make funny noises) they go "oh my god! holy sh***t!". And even with all the high tech equipment (hehe) they install throughout the house, bangs and noises always come from "the other room". Or the hallway. Or wherever there's noone watching, no gear turned on, noone recording anything.

I can't watch that. My brain hurts.
 
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