One of the earliest documentary TV shows to focus on paranormal events was In Search Of… which ran between 1977 and 1982. The 1977 episode, In Search Of… Ghosts, which featured author, lecturer and Parapsychologist Hans Holzer, is likely to have laid the foundations for future ghost hunting TV shows (Matthews 2016). In recent years, with the advent of smart phones and video hosting websites, average citizens have been able to capture and share their own supposed paranormal encounters. Unfortunately, a blend of creativity, computer literacy and capitalism means that some people now stage convincing hoaxes and present them as evidence of paranormal activity (Ghost Diaries 201; Eddy 2016). When these hoaxes are discovered, they likely tarnish the credibility of other paranormal videos which may not have been staged. As such, members of the public may be sceptical of any paranormal phenomena and less likely to consider the topic with an open mind. To illustrate this point, the paranormal videos of YouTube user mellowb1rd will be used as an example.
Mellowb1rd is a YouTube user whose videos centre around paranormal activity in his house. His videos usually feature footage of his property being thrown around by a supposed poltergeist, and of him attempting to communicate with this poltergeist via ouija board. In this video, mellowb1rd supposedly captures a high amount of poltergeist activity in his kitchen. Kitchen cabinets seem to open and close on their own, chairs are pushed across the room and cutlery launches into the air, seemingly of its own accord. This YouTube user has uploaded several similar videos to their channel, all of which involve supposed poltergeist activity causing chaos throughout his house.
At first glance, this video appears credible as there are no obvious wires, magnets or compressed air cans to be seen. Furthermore, the average person is unlikely to deliberately trash their own home time and time again as is the case in several of mellowb1rd’s videos. Most people prefer to keep their homes in order and to not risk damaging their property by throwing it across the room.
However, considering that mellowb1rd’s channel has been active since 2009, has over 110 000 followers as of April 9 2018, and his videos typically receive millions of views each, the money that he makes from advertising placed on his videos likely covers the cost of a few items which may have been damaged while filming these videos.
Interestingly, mellowb1rd has also uploaded this video as a response to critics who claim that his videos are fakes. In this video, mellowb1rd demonstrates his considerable knowledge of wires, green screen suits and video editing, in an attempt to convince users that he does not use wires, green screen suits or video editing to make his videos. This is rather a contradictory video, as the ‘fake’ poltergeist activity he creates appears as convincing as the supposed real poltergeist activity captured in other videos. As such, mellowb1rd may have unwittingly exposed himself as a fake.
Furthermore, the description of mellowb1rd’s channel reads ‘horrific poltergeist activity caught on tape’. As such, the poltergeist in his home needs to put on regular shows of force in order for mellowb1rd to capture enough footage to keep this channel active. Perhaps he really does share his home with a highly active poltergeist who is happy to help him make a living. Alternatively, perhaps this is all a one man show with special effect as the unsung hero.
Mellowb1rd is far from the only YouTube user to upload video of supposed paranormal activity. Below is a short list of other videos which capture unexplained, possibly paranormal occurrences. In all of these following clips, the unloaders and the institutions featured are not associated with the paranormal and do not make money from such uploads.
School ghost in Cork, Ireland. This motion activated CCTV footage from a school hallway shows doors opening by themselves and lockers rocking back and forth.
Swinging Chain in Abandoned Mine. This video shows a chain hanging from a ceiling in an abandoned mine which begins to swing of its own accord. This is the only paranormal type video on this user’s YouTube Channel.
Strange encounter in the desert. This video was supposedly filmed in Saudi Arabia and captures a scared motorist’s encounter with another person on the road. There is no definite explanation for what is happening in this video, but the driver deserves an Oscar for his performance if he is only pretending to be terrified.
Eddy, C 2016, ’10 Most Notorious Paranormal Hoaxes in History’, Gizmodo, viewed 9 April 2018, https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/04/the-10-most-notorious-paranormal-hoaxes-in-history/
Ghost Diaries, 2018, ’10 Most Shocking Paranormal Hoaxes in History’, The Occult Museum, viewed 8 April 2018, http://www.theoccultmuseum.com/10-shocking-paranormal-hoaxes-history/
Matthews, D 2016, ‘Origins of Paranormal Television: Watch the Very First Ghost Hunting Show to Ever Hit the Airwaves’, Week In Weird, viewed 9 April 2018, http://weekinweird.com/2016/06/11/origins-of-paranormal-television-watch-the-very-first-reality-ghost-hunting-show-to-ever-hit-the-airwaves/