One of the most liked movies in history….One of the most disliked trailers in YouTube history…GHOSTBUSTERS!
32 years ago, the original GHOSTBUSTERS broke box office records and has become part of Western popular culture since. Last year, the first trailer for the new GHOSTBUSTERS achieved notoriety by getting more negative comments and dislikes than any other movie trailer in YouTube’s not-so-long history, apparently mostly because of the reboot with an all female cast. (Really?? That’s why people were upset?)
As someone who became so connected to the original movie thanks to being recognized as one of the “real-life ghostbusters” by so many newspaper, TV, and radio outlets, I was overjoyed at the opportunity the coverage provided to talk about the real field of Parapsychology, how we actually did/do paranormal investigations, how people really experience apparitions (ghosts), hauntings and poltergeists, and why we were not then (nor are we now) at a point in technology and science where we could create a ghost trap or all the other items of ghostbuster-tech employed in the film. Or why I’d never been slimed.
The media, which today includes social media, has always been quick to go to folklore and fiction for it’s portrayal of the paranormal. GHOSTBUSTERS afforded those of us in the field that’s been doing this since the 1800s to answer a different question:
“We know you don’t do things like the Ghostbusters, so what do you REALLY do and what have you found?”
The new GHOSTBUSTERS is going to have lots of attention. There are four extremely funny women in the film, and while I lament that it’s a reboot instead of a “30 years later,” I will be looking at the movie with totally open eyes, hoping it’s a) funny, b) reverential to the original and c) funny.
I want to encourage everyone who’s a fan of the original movies to give it a chance. Let the paranormal protectors do their thing and hopefully entertain us. Don’t dismiss the film because you’re not happy it’s women doing the ‘busting — in fact, consider this a first step in reinvigorating the franchise (leading to more movies with other actors as ghostbusters?).
The first film (and even the second) made the paranormal FUN. It gave me and others a platform to compare and contrast the real experiences we study, our methods and tools, and findings against a fantasy that almost no one took to be real — unlike the “reality” shows and reality TV stars (and the producers pushing them) who have played fast and loose with “science,” made up their own methods and “findings” (with little or no awareness or knowledge that others have been studying/investigating for over 100 years), and gathered a fan base of a paranormal community (NOT a field of study) that seems to accept what they see on TV as Truth (though I’m happy to find and meet exceptions to the latter).
Sadly, because of the rise of the hobbyist and amateur ghost hunters (and their “teams”), too many of whom have no education or even garnered knowledge of field investigation and findings (and associated issues that allow us to provide some actual help), too many potential cases calls are going to those with the prettiest websites or the wildest claims (often mimicking what they see on TV). “Who Ya Gonna Call?” has been diluted by the thousands of ghost hunters who should stick to public places rather than cases of people who have been scared, disturbed, or even traumatized by their paranormal experiences (or non-paranormal situations that they have concluded are paranormal).
Again, thankfully, there are exceptions — though far too few.
People have called me one of the “pioneers” and an “original ghost hunter.” I have to immediately correct them, as my own education came from the work of so many others, going back to the “originals” who started the Society for Psychical Research and the American Society for Psychical Research in the 1880s.
See GHOSTBUSTERS, then ask the question the media asked 30 years ago: What do the real parapsychologists who do field investigation do? What have they done in the past? What have they learned about the phenomena? The methods of investigations? What equipment do the real scientists use and WHY?
For myself, and my colleagues, I’m hoping the media (and social media) re-discovers us, and through those channels, that the general public re-discovers the “real ghostbusters.” Certainly the “paranormal community” won’t get any more on board.
The vast majority of ghost hunters out there are either blithely unaware of the history or simply don’t care (after all, some of their “heroes” on TV have said there’s nothing much to be learned, that there are no “experts” or even that education in this area is a waste of time). On three occasions I’ve had ghost hunters say to me “why should I listen to you? You don’t have a TV series!” As if that’s the credential one needs to be doing the real work.
However, to those who won’t listen to anyone who’s been actively involved in the real field that studies the paranormal, maybe use a little common sense and ask your para-celebrities what their actual knowledge base was before they became TV stars…what their awareness of the actual scientific work has been.
I may not have had a TV series, but I’ve been in the media thousands of times. That’s not my qualification to do work in/around the paranormal — that’s my qualification to do more media!
And I can certainly say I was pegged by many more media outlets than almost anyone in or around the field as one of the “real ghostbusters, with one of my favorite headlines comparing me to Dashiel Hammett’s hard-boiled detective. The San Francisco Examiner called me “The Sam Spade of Real Ghostbusters.”e
Ghost Detective….that’s what I am!
And I’ve never been slimed (at least, not by a ghost)…
(Watch for my review of the new GHOSTBUSTERS)