Paranormal State

by Adam Miller

This site is traditionally reserved for reviews of bad movies (though I have allowed some exceptions: Seeding the Turf). But here I am at 11 pm watching A&E and there's show on called PARANORMAL STATE and it is just such an incredible milieu of campiness and awfulness and disgusting-bastardizing-of-religion-ness that I can't help but comment.

PARANORMAL STATE follows the work of the Paranormal Research Society (PRS) formed at Penn State. In other words it's a show about Student Activities Organization. Other common SAOs include the Sci-Fi Club, the Homer Society, Shakespeare Geeks, etc. Basically anyone with an idea and some Dreamweaver know-how can make a spiffy SAO. How the PRS got picked up by A&E I have no idea, but I intend to find out.


The PRS apparently is sent thousands of cases, but only investigates the most severe. They are fearlessly led by Ryan Buell who experienced ghosties as a kid which traumatized him (a la Fox Mulder, a fictional character). In my opinion, the only thinking haunting Ryan is his egomania. In the episode I am watching this very moment, in which Ryan went to some strangers house in the middle of wherever, he still suspects that whatever evil spirit is haunting this random is actually after Ryan. Are you serious? What, are you telling me the ghost watches A&E?

But the annoyingness of Ryan aside, the show is still shitty. There is absolutely nothing "new" in the tricks of the psychic trade. While the show bills itself as being a scientific investigation (I mean it's sponsored by a UNIVERSITY! RIgHT?>) it is in fact just psychic mumbo jumbos. For example, Ryan constantly brings in PRS "consultants" to help him on cases. What a surprise that these consultants always confirm Ryan's suspicions!!! Anyone here the concept of an INDEPENDENT RESEARCHER rather than a pony? Sorry, guys, but the webcams and headphones set up around the house don't conceal the same hokiness that psychics have been peddling for years.

But the real kicker is the injection of religion into all of it. Christianity is explicitly sold as the answer to these hauntings. Indeed, the psychic/ghost shit is actually NOT the point of the show. Instead the PRS is actually an EVANGELICAL INSTITUTION who remedies every house by "blessing it" which means reading the Holy Bible, splashing water every where, and writing on doors with chalk. The "victims" are encouraged to cure the source, their own religiosity. At the conclusion of the episode I've been watching as I write this, the post-script informs that a priest arrived and blessed the victims with protective energy which later protected the victims from a fire… I would like to believe that Christians and non-Christians alike can agree in this day and age that literally scaring people into believing in God is bogus.

Why is A&E sponsoring this show? Since when did A&E become the pseudo-Christian network? The whole thing is bunk and its guised evangelism is nothing short of offensive.

I think I'm going to found my organization here at The College of William and Mary (yes I go to school too, Ryan) which explicitly seeks to debunk crap… oh wait, I already did.

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