Investigating what’s on everyone’s mind, “Is Ghosthunters Real?”
The recent surge in interest for ghost hunting was generated largely by the hit Ghost Hunters TV show, but is Ghosthunters real? Die-hard fans know the authenticity of production has been a point of contention for the entire cast. We saw the very beginnings of TAPS evolve from a highly controlled and measured exploration of supernatural phenomena to a collection of booty and breast shots taken while following the newest, youngest, hottest member of the team up the stairs in the dark.
The cast ultimately found this to be unacceptable and began breaking away from the brand, though The Atlantic Paranormal Society is still going strong. Members are still active in the community and online, and recently Jason Hawes hinted at a return to TV screens. We can only hope that doesn’t mean a return to the boob tube-ry.
Lessons from a Local Ghosthunting Group
The ghost hunting craze peaked in 2008 and 2009 after the GhostHunters had been on the Sci Fi Channel for several years. I remember because, while I was expecting our fourth child, my husband decided to help start a local group and go out on ghost hunts all night long with a group of people from his work. Off they went with new ghost hunting equipment to investigate some of the supposedly haunted places around town.
The local group he started took a very skeptical stance on paranormal activity, similar to T.A.P.S. ghost hunters. At least, they said they did. They used meters and records and night vision cameras to attempt to capture images or EVPs. The group’s experiences mirrored those of the real T.A.P.S. in early episodes of the Ghost Hunters TV show. They rarely picked up anything… but… there was one visit where they heard mysterious footsteps that couldn’t be explained, captured on tape, and there were “orbs” hovering in photos.
Orbs are basically balls of light, and while they can be made by dust or insects, the type paranormal investigators pay attention to are the kind that have purpose. They move alongside you or in accordance with other evidence. They don’t move in the same way a bit of dust or moth or fly would move.
Could orbs be explained by something we don’t know about yet? Of course. Nature itself is mysterious. Gravity? Dark Matter? Consider an iota of the things we know we don’t know, and it’s hard to say for sure that ghosts exist. What ghost hunting equipment really measures is the possible. Is it possible that the EVPs (ghost voices caught on tape) and photos and experiences really are energy left over from someone who has passed, or even a cognizant spirit that still exists?
Those are the questions T.A.P.S. sets about answering. Given the actions and attitudes and words of the members when the show first started versus how they evolved over time, and I would say yes, it was a real experience in the beginning.
How the Ghost Hunters TV Show Lost Popularity
Once sensational shows like Ghost Adventures started, I think execs wanted TAPS members to go a little overboard. Member after member quit the production. Newbies were brought on who didn’t always seem to have the same level of experience as the rest of the team. The show was expanded with (highly enjoyable!) spin-offs.
Do the same fans like Ghost Hunters who like Zac and the Ghost Adventures crew? I’m not sure. The feeling of both productions is like night and day. The professional TAPS used to bring to the screen is definitely not there. It’s kind of like Norwegian Cruise Line (which has one of the most haunted ships at sea) vs. Carnival Cruise Line. One is more refined and mature. The other is total chaos, fun time!
Is Ghosthunteres for OLD PEOPLE? Ouch. In my opinion, this was the concern at the heart of the TAPS Ghost Hunters changes. The viewer base wasn’t the 20-something crowd with tons of money to spend on videos and branded gear and clothing and conventions. They were a little older. They were more established. That meant families … and BILLS.
That older set doesn’t have the same types of disposable income younger generations have, so I think a concentrated effort was made to change the audience. Younger, hipper, more able to spend. You need action to get them excited and watching Steve go through another 140 hours of video just to find a rock that mysteriously fell over wasn’t selling it.
Changing the shows demographic though, in my opinion, was the worst thing studio executives could have done specifically because there were already programs catering to those viewers. The Ghost Hunters crowd was annoyed and dissatisfied. The show drove off its target market for one that wasn’t really interested in it. Is that why Grant left?
Why did Grant leave Ghost Hunters?
When Donna x left the Ghost Hunters TV show, the fan community was ripe with speculation. Was she upset over being asked to fake responses? Did she not like the new cast members? Was this ageism and sexism at work? Did execs get rid of her to help usher in a new younger audience? Or was her health really to blame?
There was an understanding throughout the fandom that this kind of thing just sometimes happened. A favorite cast member has a right to leave and live their own life in peace, even if it makes the viewing experience less enjoyable. Donna was always one of our favorite members of the T.A.P.S. ghosthunting team, and she remains a good role model for young women entering the community. In fact, she is still involved and periodically offers haunted tours and the like in touristy spots around the globe.
But when Grant left – GRANT – things were different. It really signalled the death toll for the show. He was and will remain an integral part of the team. He balances Jason out and provides a different type of insight.
Of course, many assumed he’d simply grown tired of the program. They had been producing Ghost Hunters at that point for several years. Others thought it was taking a toll on his wife and family. Or maybe his writing or music or other ventures were becoming more important at this stage in his life. But there were always rumors it was an issue of faking the show.
The fact that it eventually ended makes me think the rumors were true, and that execs wanted to turn Ghost Hunters into a sensational shlockfest.
So, is Ghosthunters real? Yes, the early episodes. And if we’re lucky — the last ones too. 😉