3 May 2009

Most Haunted

It's been a good day, all told. I haven't actually achieved very much in terms of advancing my life, but neither have I murdered, raped or hurt the feelings of anyone, so that must be a good thing, surely?

After a marathon session on the xbox 360 this morning (Portal, if you must know) I decided to see what was on the TV.

Now, something you should know about me is that I really don't watch much television. Generally, there are one or maybe two programmes that I'll make a point of watching over the course of a week and, usually, these are pretty seasonal. For instance, until last week I was watching only 'Charlie Brooker's Newswipe' and 'Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle'. Both series have now finished their current run, so it's unlikely that I'll watch anything for some weeks now.

For the most part, however, I tend to disregard the television entirely, preferring to watch a movie or mash the xbox controller with my big, clumsy fingers.

Today though, I decided to channel-surf. Thus, I found myself sitting in utter bewilderment watching 'Most Haunted', a programme so astonishingly bad that it surpasses 'laughable' and actually starts to make you quite angry that the people involved haven't been a) sectioned under The Mental Health Act, b) beaten with knotted ropes, or c) sectioned under The Mental Health Act and then beaten with knotted ropes.

For those who haven't seen it (please bear with me and pretend that this blog has a readership when, in actual fact, I'm well aware that I'm simply talking to myself) the programme consists of a group of blithering idiots who travel to somewhere creepy, film themselves with night-vision cameras and pretend to get punched by ghosts.

I think you'll find that very accurately sums up the entire show.

There are, of course, other elements involved. The show has had a number of resident 'psychics' whose job is to wander around feeling the walls, screwing their eyes up and making lots of guesses about who might have lived, and died, in the building. Some of it relies on nothing more than standard 'cold reading' techniques, but other statements are so impressively accurate that you wonder how they could possibly know these things. It's almost like they've spoken to someone who has intimate knowledge of the building's history - someone, for instance, like the show's 'historical expert' who turns up early on, gives various bits of information about the location, and then watches spellbound as the 'psychic' regurgitates that exact same information later in the programme.

In today's show, this team of stumbling morons visited a beach with a World War II bunker on it. A trio of seemingly menopausal women giggled their way through the woods, claiming to hear footsteps, observing a ghostly lantern (beach = seamen = lanterns, presumably) and being routinely pinched, touched and generally indecently assaulted by whatever roving sex-pest spirits were in the vicinity. I know that being a dead sailor must leave you with a considerable appetite for female company, but even ghosts must have standards, surely?

Meanwhile, two male Tourettes-sufferers blundered their way around in the bunker, stopping every few seconds to shout "Did you hear that?" and then talking in loud stage-whispers, very effectively preventing the audience from listening to whatever groans and mutters they'd just claimed to hear. One of the men held a camera up to his own stupid moon-face and, whilst talking, was audibly smacked in the gut, accompanied by an incredible display of gurning and rolling around on the floor. Whether he was an ex-footballer or not, I have no idea, but his pitiful lurching around reminded me briefly of King Kong trying to swat away biplanes.

He then enacted a reconstruction of the event by slapping himself in the stomach several times to demonstrate what had happened. Interestingly, the sound of his gloved palm colliding with his jacket was absolutely identical to that made when he was 'punched by a poltergeist'. A more sceptical person might suggest that he had done it to himself, but I certainly wouldn't utter such a terrible slander.

Sadly, they then decided to head out of the bunker in an effort, so they claimed, to avoid further poltergeist activity. This meant that I was denied the hoped for spectacle of seeing one of them slip on some loose rubble and get impaled through the eye with a rusty iron pole.

The most amazing thing about the programme is that all of the action inevitably occurs off-camera. Strange cowelled figure? Sorry, didn't catch it. Flying hairbrush? Oops, just out of shot. Line of undead Roman legionnaires marching slowly along a corridoor? Bugger, the camera was in the other room.

The thing that really bothers me about this is that all those involved must unavoidably fall into one of two camps - either 1) they're suffering from a terrible delusion that the events are real, in which case they should be given psychiatric help, not a television show, or 2) each one of them is an active, knowing participant in a childish charade which, by its very existence, lends credence to the multitude of other scam artists out there. People offering false hope of the afterlife to those who, whether through grief, despair, or just sheer unhappiness, regularly hand over fistfuls of cash for some small measure of misplaced comfort.

So, in case you were wondering, I won't be adding 'Most Haunted' to my list of must-see TV.


Shelley Blackburn said...

Mmm, I`m quite a fan of anything spiritual and Most Haunted, although I do find your take on it quite funny and you are obviously a non-believer. Always best to keep an open mind I think, afterall, would you spend the night alone in some of the locations they have visited?? Some of the effects could be dramatised for tv, but they have made millions out of it, wish I had thought of the idea first!

Dan said...

Thanks for the comment, Shelley. Nice to see that I'm not the only person that reads this.

I will disagree with you on one point though: I most definitely do have an open-mind. I'm completely open to the possibility of ghosts or other paranormal phenomenon, such as mediumship, and await with excitement a single piece of evidence to support their existence.

In the absence of such evidence though, I simply can't state that such things exist as it would be an unsupported leap of faith.

And would I spend the night alone in some of those locations? Hell yes! I once slept in a graveyard for several hours in the middle of the night. Admittedly, I was drunk and couldn't figure out my way home so it was more out of convenience than anything else...


Anonymous said...

It's quite amusing that Most Haunted has been on air for some years now, when for the most part it is exactly the same show over and over again. The live shows are the best, when you can watch on webcams (and still see nothing by the way) and are encouraged to text in if you see anything. Plenty of 'orbs' are seen floating about and you'll always get the odd person telling the team to be careful as they feel something dangerous is going to happen as their budgie has gone mental and eaten it's own beak (I may have made the last example up). That said if you tap 'Mary Loves Dick' into The You Tube there is a amusing clip of Most Haunted at it's best. Don't get confused and search for the same thing on You Porn, or you'll get an entirely different clip....