February 19, 2011

A Brief Critique on the Salem Ghost Adventures Episode <|:)

A strange energy hung in the air all day yesterday. Was it the full moon? Maybe the thunderstorm rolling through?

A quick look at my news feed reminded what it was. This was the night that the Salem episode of *shudder* Ghost Adventures was airing. I get goose pimples just thinking about it. o.0

It ended up being mildly entertaining, although there were numerous problems and obvious historical inaccuracies. I mean lots. ...I could just let it go and said I had fun drinking root beer and watching tv on a huge movie screen at Cinema Salem, but that's not what you all want, is it? XD

I showed up five minutes late and slid int the back row after a brief trip to the concession stand. I don't want to complain too much about "reality" tv, because most people know a lot of it is staged, but, man, watching this just pissed me off! They were being really disrespectful towards witchcraft, for one. In one scene they were walking down Essex st as Zak Bagans pretended to run frantically around asking every person he saw "Are you a witch??" Well, I remember that day clearly, and they walked right past me as I stood in front of the Spellbound Museum with my super long hair and wizard beard wearing a shirt with a huge pentacle on it. I said "Hey, we're the local ghost hunters, come here if you want to know what's really going on in Salem." That prompted them to stare at me and film me speaking then all turn their backs on me at the same time and walk away without saying anything. Then my boss went up to them and introduced herself and her dog, Braveheart, and they actually showed a clip of her introducing the dog but not herself! Threatened much?

Later, at the Witch House, the very first time that Zak Bagans whips out his digital voice recorder and asks a question, he gets some scribbles that he claims are electronic voice phenomena ( or EVPs, which he later describes as "phenomenas[sic]" in the same way a child asks for "pesgetti"). And, of course, it's a little girl. Isn't it always?

Any time they mentioned Christian Day or his shop, Hex,there was boisterous laughter and yelling from a section up in the first few rows. I could hear his voice, which can only be described as 'fabulous' exclaiming "That's right, I'm a WARLOCK, baby!" I could only help but giggle at his attempts to troll someone into the witch/warlock debate, which has good and bad evidence on either side and which I am assuming he has been studying extensively lately as his first book is coming out soon and people are saying it might be called something about warlocks or something. He leaked some of it which I have read and I must admit he is truly reveling in his controversial image. Nonetheless, I can't wait to read it. [edit: as an aside, here is a video of him and the extremely magical and wise Lori Bruno helping out their realtor friend with a cleansing ritual that doubles as a fantastic publicity stun. They were just in the Wall street Journal as well for this same stuff.]

Later on, during a mention of the famous mysterious figure some of 1692's accusers claimed to be afflicted by, known as the "Dark/Shadow/Black Man", they showed shaded grainy footage of the statue of Roger Conant. Only the most unperceptive of tourists don't realize that the man with the walking stick and a cloak is not some spooky figure, but the man who founded Salem as a fishing village in 1626 before the ignorant Puritans showed up in 1629. A rookie mistake really.

During the investigation when they were visited by afore mentioned Salem Warlock and his friend Kelly (whom you can get psychic readings from over the phone for only 3.99 per minute!, lol), they were treated to a ritual that was pretty much devoid of any actual ritual, but contained a cute speech. Christian sure did raise a lot of energy in the room and the guys from the show were getting all worked up about him, but mostly about his skull, which he named Robert. The editing was hilarious, and if Christian did do anything respectful or authentic they completely removed it - but made sure to include him talking about blood sacrifice. Hats off to Mr. Day, though, he cut his finger (or faked it convincingly) and did a blood sacrifice on tv! Wicked awesome. I could tell from his cackling laughter he thought the editing made it a little cheesy, too, but it was good. He totally freaked the guys on the show out.

Now, after the ritual the digital voice recorder seemed to actually respond to multiple questions on cue with specific answers. Really? Wow. Let us suspend disbelief for a moment and say that this was true, only problem? Content! Historical accuracy!

They claimed the voice was Bridget Bishop and that Jonathan Corwin presided over her trial and may have even questioned or tortured her in his home. There are multiple issues with this. The first is that Jonathan Corwin was not made a judge in the court of Oyer and Terminer until after Nathanial Saltonstall left, and what motivated him to leave? The first hanging, of Bridget Bishop, and it's basis on spectral evidence.

TL;DR version: Corwin became a judge AFTER Bridget's execution and could not have presided over her trail.

Now, to move on, they moved the investigation to The Lyceum restaurant(a great place, but a bit pricey), which has never been proven to be the site of where Bridget Bishop's property once was, but it is possible. The show did not mention that this was only a theory, and completely accepted it as fact without question. I hope that the fashionable little steampunk kid from Beverly High that was the guest investigator on the show reads this because I wanted to ask, could you tell Zak Bagans was flattering you? This kid, Max, seemed very skeptical at first, but then after a pep talk from Zak about how cool he thought he was, he seemed much more likely to buy into whatever was going on around him. Did anyone else catch that, or am I wrong? Flattery is how a lot of psychics work, as well. It is a very easy way to manipulate someone.

Later on, they caught a suspected EVP - a low and raspy sound that they deduced was the voice of Bridget Bishop saying "Mary". If that was Bridget Bishop, then she must have been fugly as hell, because she sounded like a nasty old drag queen.

A bunch of other stuff happened but, nothing notable or very exciting and this entry is too long already. Tomorrow, a quick update on the rest of what is going on in the world of witches, there has been too much to not update, but then back to winter blog break.

[Also, in researching this entry I found a fantastic article written by someone ten times more skeptical than I about this episode that I had to link because it's extremely funny. http://frothygirlz.com/2011/02/19/ghost-adventures-salem-witch-house/ ]


  1. Well. The thing with words and terms is that for the most part we can't trace them back to the main source. I tend to go with the most recent use of the word which is in the terms of World of Warcraft. I think Christian Day is pissed because he can't be night elf paladin so he wants to be a warlock. It's an archaic term that to me will always mean traitor. Or geek. I cannot take anyone seriously who HAS to have a title to feel cool. He wants to be the next Laurie Cabot but his hair isn't big enough. =)

  2. I followed you out here from livejournal.

    "Christian sure did raise a lot of energy in the room and the guys from the show were getting all worked up about him, but mostly about his skull, which he named Robert."

    Are you kidding me? He named his skull Robert? Did he think that no one out here reads The Dresden Files novels?

  3. In 2009, my wife and I spent a couple of days getting fooled into thinking that some of the lame tourist traps around Salem were legit. Among them was the place that they visited on Ghost Adventures-the one with the dramatic interpretation of Bridget Bishop's trial and the silly mannequins. After the show they take you downstairs into a "dungeon" with more mannequins and sound effects that sound like a "spooky halloween" Cd that you can buy anywhere. Then you're brought into A GIFT SHOP. There are so many places around Salem that are shamelessly cashing in on the hype like this. There's another almost just like this that touts itself as a Museum. Again, it's down into the basement for a tour of crappy looking mannequins. The worst offender is the wax museum. Nothing much to see, and it is EXPENSIVE.

    On the second day of our visit we discovered SPELLBOUND TOURS. The author of this blog was our tour guide and we finally got knee deep in the history we came to discover. There are other tour companies in Salem and I'm sure that there are other tourist attractions that are worth your money (the house of seven gables being one for sure), but I cannot speak for those. I can only attest to our Spellbound tours being one of the most memorable parts of the trip. On the historical tour, we learned about some of the specific graves in Old Burying Point. I learned things from Tom that day that have helped me guard myself against malicious inaccuracies and sensationalized half-truths regarding the witch hysteria ever since. That day was when events of 1692 became very real to me. The weight of what happened crushed me like a thousand tons of bricks. I was glad I was there to pay respect to those who deserved it and spit on the graves of those who deserved it (I'm looking at YOU judge hathorne). The ghost hunting tour was a lot of fun too and I captured on film what Tom and his boss described as "ectoplasm."

    Another thing worth mentioning but NOT WORTH SUFFERING THROUGH is Christian Day's "dumb supper" at the Hawthorne Hotel. The food was great and the Hotel is beautiful. Christian Day and his cronies are an absolute joke. The rules he imposes at this fiasco make his insecurities painfully obvious. It seems he has taken advantage of his "fame" as Salem's "premiere warlock" to be a little bitch to everyone around him. The fact that he was in charge of anything gave him such an inflated sense of power. He was a real dick to everyone and we had paid a silly sum of money to attend. He said "if you speak after passing through this curtain, you will be removed from the dumb supper" SO MANY times. So you go into the dining room and you pass through this big fancy curtain. He makes this big spectacle about the room beyond the veil being a place for spirits that he was ALLOWING us to enter. You go in, you sit, you eat, you DO NOT speak, people cry, etc. The idea is paying respect to the dead and being visited by them. My wife and I had suffered several losses in the year prior and looked forward to this cathartic experience. We were eating and people kept sticking skulls in our faces without warning and shaking dog-headed maracas in our ears. It was so ridiculously dramatic. I tried to assume that these were ceremonies that I knew little about and that I should respect them as such, but the more I meditate on it, the more I think I'm correct in finding it to be a way for the "celebrity" witches and WARLOCKS to squeeze cash out of tourists who come to Salem for Halloween.

    I DID use my time at the dumb supper to meditate on the people and animals that I've loved and lost. I remembered and celebrated the good times and asked God to forgive me for the times I may have wronged them. Also, the music was cool and the food was VERY good. Next time I think I'll just stay there and order room service.

  4. I think you described the Ghost Adventure guys perfectly when you wrote "threatened much." This is my take on them also. I (stupidly) follow them on Twitter (mostly to read what ridiculous things they are doing). What I have noticed is that they only respond to the followers (almost exclusively girls!) that gush over them and write how much they love them and how "hot" they are. I have written many intelligent (in my opinion) questions or comments to be ingnored. My take is that Zak and his boys are merely in this so-called search for the truth to sensationalize footage so they can make more money, gets more girls/fans, and boost their fragile egos.


Please be nice or shut up.