Is a Real Life Exorcism the Ultimate Docu-drama?{Paranormal State}

October 29, 2008
Ryan Buell and his Freak Force

Ryan Buell and his Freak Force

Sci-Fi (Horror, Mystery and Suspense) is a popular genre, especially around Halloween; there is a thrill in being scared from a safe distance, and as a fan, I watched last night’s episode of A&E’s Paranormal State with the same chilling uneasiness I felt when I watched The Exorcist for the first time. I never thought I would witness (nor wanted to, really )a real life exorcism, let alone one on TV; it’s easier to digest this stuff when it’s made up. However, while I watched with interest, I felt uncomfortable for being “entertained” by the content of this episode.  Paranormal State both blurs the line between life and art, as well as bridges the gap between paranormal hoaxes and true human experience.

The success of Paranormal State is two fold: 1) “I Am Six” was entertaining as a classic horror drama and 2) “I Am Six” appeared to responsibly document the rite of exorcism, with empathy toward the victim. By airing this episode, PRS hoped to encourage open dialogue on a subject that, in the past, has been relegated to the Science Fiction genre“I Am Six” was a story that was presented honestly and edited seamlessly with minimal (thankfully) lame special effects from previous episodes.

Blogger, “Dr. Atlantis,” a skeptic, criticized the producers of Paranormal State for using these effects to up the “scary factor” of the show.  He compared Paranormal State to Ghost Hunters, a Sci Fi Channel hit series, by the ways they both cut to commercial just as the investigators discover something spooky.  The producers have yet to realize that with the invention of TiVo, we can fast-forward to the next segment. Thankfully, these effects were kept to a minimum (with the exception of the annoying reminders that the number “6” is associated with evil). The difference between Ghost Busters (TAPS) and Paranormal State (PRS)is that TAPS sets out to “de-bunk” false claims of paranormal activity, whereas PRS focuses on a client’s personal experience with the paranormal.  Ultimately, both organizations want to help people not to let the paranormal world prevent them from leading happy and productive lives.

What was intrigued me about this particular episode was that the normally stoic Ryan Buell was visibly shaken by

Chip Coffee hanging out with "the other" paranormal guys Jason and Grant of TAPS

Chip Coffee hanging out with "the other" paranormal guys Jason and Grant of TAPS

what was happening to the victim, Lara. On his blog, Buell, director of the Paranormal Research Society (PRS), stated his reservations about airing this episode.   He was smart enough not only to call in his usual reinforcements, but to be humble enough not interfere nor take credit for the process.  Assisting (or “co-starring”) with Buell and PRS were psychic medium, Chip Coffee,an Episcopalian priest, a psychologist, an ENT, and renowned Demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Walden.

For “personal reasons,” Buellchose not to promote “I Am Six” on the media circuit, a decision that surely affected ratings.  To his credit, Buell’s motives are not to achieve celebrity status from the notoriety of PRS, especially in light of last season’s possession episodes “The Name” and “The Devil in Syracuse”  helped to put PRS on the map. Buell clearly states he has a calling to help people and has managed to stay true to his calling amidst the sensational abet  exploitative nature of reality television.

However, it is the impetus, Ryan Buell’s own experiences with the paranormal, that remains a mystery.  A book by Buell, due out in February 2009, will hopefully disclose more about the event(s) that gave him a unique direction and purpose.

On his blog, Buell states in so many words that he did not appreciate the “shit” people wrote about him in their blogs as a reaction to the possession episodes.  He especially does not appreciate bloggers who hide behind their avatars in order to spread negativity.  However, not all bloggers are “haters” and my personal reasons for writing under an avatar have less to do with subterfuge, and more to do with wanting to write from a certain perspective.  Ironically, it is easy for one to tell Ryan, lighten up–you put yourself out there-deal with it, for precisely that reason.  I am interested to see how Ryan Buell handles the ensuing public reaction to “I Am Six.”  Perhaps he will serve as a role model and pave the way for those “shit writing” bloggers to emerge from behind their avatars and stand up to

One of Buell's hobbies is making fun of Paris Hilton.  Here she is "mugging" for the police camera

One of Buell's hobbies is making fun of Paris Hilton. Here she is "mugging" for the police camera

scrutiny.

PJ

p.s. Buell does have a sense of humor and is a fan of the sci-fi genre himself: his favorite pastime is making fun of Paris Hilton, and The Exorcist is one of his favorite movies.

Advertisements

Will Wii Fit get me into the Mii Generation?

May 23, 2008

This morning I checked out the Wii Website, and found an answer to the question I had been looking for:

Why do I need Wii?

Wii is not just a gaming console, it’s a reason to get together with your friends and family and play today’s hottest games. Wii offers legendary Nintendo franchises like Mario, Zelda and Metroid, as well as all new classics like Wii Sports and Wii Play. Create your own Mii character to star in Wii games. Play friends online over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection or use the Internet Channel to surf the net from your sofa. You can even download classic Nintendo games using the Wii Shop Channel. Take a look around and see why your TV is not complete without Wii.

The people at Wii know that keeping up with technology can be overwhelming; the atmosphere of their website minimalistic, uncluttered, and spa-like (the polar opposite of MySpace). I feel like I’m at IKEA with Feng Shui. The demonstration videos for the Wii Fit remind me of the scene in The Matrix where Morpheus trains Neo to live in the grid. However, Wii is not asking me to live in their world, but to reinvent my world with the Wii brand. Apparently, the future is now.

This change is not new. I remember eating my first TV Dinner in the early 70’s (a ready made dinner in an aluminum tray that was shaped like a TV set). Our family moved out of the dining room and into the living room to eat dinner in front of the TV Set. You were supposed to eat TV Dinners on a TV Tray. TV Trays were sold in sets of four and each tray folded out in front of you on a little stand. Thanks in part to the invention of the TV Dinner, I literally grew up in front of television. My grandmother liked to cook big Sunday dinners for us at her house and she never understood why we didn’t enjoy “dinner conversation.” In her day, family members looked forward to the eventing meal to catch up on each others’ lives and share town gossip. I remember my grandfather loved Soul Train and my grandmother had a hard time getting him to turn off the TV and come to dinner. Despite owning a big RCA Television Console, She held on to family dinner by never buying a TV Dinner or a set of TV Trays.

Now the Nintendo Corporation is asking families to leave their individual TV sets and video consoles and congregate together in front of the ole’ Family TV. Their motives are admirable, but do I need a Wii to have “quality family time?” Of course, sitting for hours in front of the TV is not good for you, so the makers of Wii have come up with the Wii Fit, so we all can stay active and remain together. I’m skeptical about the Wii Fit. Take a look at the Wii Fit Promo video vs. the Parody, and you’ll see why.

When I was little, we always had a bunch of neighborhood kids over at our house. Our backyard was small, but we had a sand box, a tree house, and something called a “whirli-gig.” We also shared a driveway with our next door neighbors so we could make a bike track out of chalk and ride around. We also had a kiddie pool which we set up as a bike wash. It seems that in order to have a house that kids want to come to, I need to own a Wii. A nearby park isn’t a gathering place anymore, and that makes me sad. My big Orwellian fear is that the outside world will become so undesirable, that Wii Fit is a necessity. I wonder if by purchasing a Wii, am I giving in to the possibility that I can’t think of anything else to do. Hopefully, there is a balanced middle ground. If I join the Wii/Mii Generation, I want it to be a positive change, and I welcome any of your stories and/or comments.

PJ


Tamara Tattles

Come for the tea. Stay for the shade.

Tim Zimmermann

Whistling past the graveyard...and wondering if the revolution will ever begin.

theplussideofme

A blog about the life and fashions of a plus-size woman.

The Orca Project

Raising Awareness of the Captive Orca Industry

Lynnnchicago101's Blog

Real Housewives

realhousewifeofaiken

You fail only if you stop writing.

Friendly Dish

Suffering from an addiction to the ridiculous real housewives? You've come to the right place

TBB Reality

Where Reality TV meets Real Life

Pop South

Reflections on the South in Popular Culture

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.