Every reality show needs a villain: a Simon Cowell, a Gordon Ramsay, a Donald Trump, a personality that makes everyone on set nervous. Someone who flies into fits without notice, hurling insults, criticism, and sauce pans at everyone.
Every Bachelor needs a bad bitch that calls out the bumps on the other contestants’ lips. Every courtroom needs a judge who threatens to use her gavel as an enema. Every Jersey dinner table needs a host who’s willing to call a guest a “Prostitution whore!” Demented divas give delicious sound bytes. Give them a 15-second spot and they will make an impression. It’s these villains that get viewers tuning in.
Conflict is the heart of drama and good television thrives on it. So why do so many Ghost-hunting shows have so little of it? For all their dramatic tone they are light on actual drama. As Ghost Hunterswraps up on the SyFy network and looks for a new home for its 12th season might I make a suggestion? Hire me to be your villain.
My background as a horror author makes me uniquely qualified for investigating the paranormal, and my background as an asshole (ask anyone I’ve dated) makes me ideal for reality TV. I could be your Spencer Pratt, your Puck, your Omarose.
As a purveyor of paranormal potboilers I’ve researched my share of supernatural lore. I know the long told legends, the urban myths, and the natural explanations behind them. My research has left me with an entrenched sense of skepticism.
How Skeptical Am I?
A waiter once told me he saw his grandmother’s ghost on the night she died. He was building a Hot Wheels ramp in the living room when he saw her out on the front window, kicking up her heals on the porch swing. She was in a long silk dress that flowed behind her as she kicked up her legs.
The waiter opened the front door and called out to her, ”Nana? Why are you here? Mom says you’re on dialysis?”
She turned, shushed him, and winked. That’s when the phone rang. Right then the hospital called to say that the waiter’s grandmother had just passed. The waiter challenged me, “How do you explain that?”
I rubbed my chin. “Let me ask you a question? What were the carbon monoxide levels like in your childhood home?”
I’m that guy. The guy that doesn’t bless sneezes, never knocks on wood, and always steps on cracks. I’m the guy who asks tarot readers to show their work, the guy who interrupts sermons, and refuses to be defined by his astrological sign (which I’m told is a Virgo thing).
For the Ghost Hunters to go on they’ve got to tweak their formula and what better way to do that than to hire someone who’s critical of it. The Ghost Hunters need me to play Sherlock to their Watson, Scully to their Mulder, Velma to their Scooby Doo.
It isn’t just that I wear my skepticism on my sleeve it’s that I can make it cinematic. Here are a few choice scenarios where I think Ghost Hunters could benefit from an asshole skeptic.
Are you Down with EVP? Yeah, You Know Me
When a ghost hunter pulls out a micro recorder to capture electronic voice phenomenon they always ask the same questions, “Is there someone here who wishes to speak? Did you die somewhere on these grounds? Are you the little girl the innkeepers told us about?”
I’ll be the one hiding in the dark, hovering over their shoulder, aiming a megaphone at their ear.
“Stop asking leading questions.”
Startled the ghost hunter will slip up, crash on his back, and crab walk away from my ongoing attack.
I’ll keep coming with my megaphone and keep him on blast.
“Find a recorder without an auto gain circuit. Right now you’re having conversations with room tones. Your mind is wired to hear patterns in the static. Ask leading questions and you’ll get answers from the air vents.”
When my victim plugs his eardrums I’ll move in.
“Do you believe Led Zeppelin hid a backwards message to Satan in ‘Stairway to Heaven’? Have you ever heard of false positives? You should have Siri analyze your own audio. If you see answers in the transcript you’ll have good reason to lose your shit.”
At this point I imagine the other stars will do what they can to pry me off of my victim.
Shave and A Haircut
One of the standbys the Ghost Hunters team resorts to when their footage lacks scare is the old “Shave and a Haircut” bit. One of the stars will ask the ghost, “Do you know the song Shave and a Haircut? I’m going to tap out the rhythm and you complete it. That way we’ll know you’re present.”
The ghost hunter taps the the wall of a metal silo: tap-tap-tap-tap-tap (shave-and-a-haircut). The phantom taps out the rest,tap-tap (two-bits).
I’ll be the one on the other side of the wall with a pair of mallets pounding out Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise
Playin’ in the street gonna be a big man someday
Most ghost hunting shows use Electromagnetic Field detectors because erratic electromagnetic activity has been linked to spectral activity (said no scientific journal ever). This is a scientific instrument that’s being used like a toy (like how the Scientologists use e-meters).
No one has ever shown that an EMF meter can detect a ghost. Perhaps they’ve gotten an uptick in an attic where a tenant swears they saw floating figure in a wedding dress, but they can’t replicate these numbers under controlled conditions.
When the owner of a hotel is all too eager to believe their establishment is haunted the burden of proof is low. Historic hotels use haunted rooms as selling points after all.
That said I’m going to bring my own piece of scientific equipment that does whatever I say it does.
“What is that you’re waving around?”
“This old thing? It’s a AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester.”
“And why do you have a Wireless Tester?”
“Because ghosts interfere with WiFi signal strength.”
“Haven’t you ever seen that movie Unfriended?”
“What’s that thing you’re shaking in your other hand?”
“An Apple Watch. If you shake it just right you can trick it into thinking you’re being more active than you really are.”
“Doesn’t that kind defeat the point?”
If there are Strings I Will Find Them
TheGhost Huntershave been accused of faking their findings. If I suspect speakers piping in prerecorded whispers I will repurpose those EMFs meters to suss them out. If there’s a staging crew setting up smoke and mirrors behind the scenes I will find the seams, I will trace their footprints, and track them to their vans. And if any of the series leads tugs on their own clothing with strings I will find them, tie them around my knuckles, and march them around the room, bell in hand, proclaiming, “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
Several bright-eyed ghost hunters have joined the team over the years. They claim much of the show’s evidence was manufactured, that they were visiting locations that had already been investigated, and that their reactions were falsified in editing. In the case of Donna Lacroix, who blasted the show in several public forums, she left feeling cynical about the entire enterprise.
Well, I’m already cynical.
The basic conceit of the show doesn’t make sense to me. I have so many questions like:
- Why do ghost hunters ask their hosts about their hauntings at the beginning of each investigation? Wouldn’t it make more sense to investigate the space first, without a bias, then compare findings with the hosts’ claims?
- Why do the ghost hunters never compare their hosts’ encounters to known natural phenomena like sleep paralysis and waking hallucinations?
- Since carbon monoxide has been linked to ghost-like hallucinations shouldn’t the ghost hunters be testing for it?
- Why do the ghost hunters only shoot at night when false positives are all but guaranteed?
- Why do the ghost hunters believe that telling a spirit that they’re not welcome is enough to evict them? If ghosts linger because they have unfinished business is the assumption that they were just waiting to be on TV?
These are the kind of questions I intend to ask as the latest member of the Ghost Hunters team. Hire me and I will be the kind of skeptical asshole that will draw in ratings. I will be the rude one asking to interrogate the hosts in separate rooms, the bad cop who will call children out when they can’t keep their stories straight. I will corner my colleges, scrutinize spectral sightings, and roll my eyes at bumps in the night.
I will keep the team honest, be a check on spurious findings, and provide the brand of harsh snark that makes reality show villains so entertaining.
Signed (the total bad bitch diva you basic-ass-ghost-hunters so desperately need),
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?