Review of Cursed: The Bell Witch

I was on the fence about watching the recent paranormal series, “Cursed: The Bell Witch”.  However, considering I live about ten minutes away from the Bell Witch Cave, I felt compelled to do so.  I already knew about the story and the history behind the Bell family.  I started watching a couple of episodes but then something would always pull me away and I never really got a chance to really digest what I was watching.  So,  one day after the series was over, I put on a cup of coffee, sat down and watched every single episode from start to finish.

Every. Single. Episode.

And I LOVED IT!

I’m just kidding.  It was absolutely wretched!!!!  I’ve seen some pretty bad paranormal shows in my time, but just when I thought it doesn’t get any worse than a demon being blown up in a mirrored box, I watched “Cursed: The Bell Witch.”  I considered shoving my head into a toilet in the hopes of flushing out all the crap and shenanigans I witnessed in a 34 minute time span of watching the show, but I figured, why punish myself more? This was yet another stereotypical paranormal show full of ominous music for no apparent reason, awkward camera angles, and bad acting, accompanied with incorrect history and inaccurate facts.

To begin with, the show portrayed the residents of Adams, TN as overall-wearing, backwoods, ignorant, country folk that hate outsiders and most likely have a friend named “Cricket” who is married to his first cousin with one tooth. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The residents of Adams are very kind, normal, sweet people. I’ve been to Adams several times to visit my friend who lives there and I’ve asked locals about whether or not the Bell Witch legend was true.  Not one time did anyone “warn” me to get out of town and to stay away if I know what’s good for me, which is what the show pretended to have happen to the cast members, John and Chad.  In one episode, they actually tried to get viewers to believe that while they were sleeping in their tent, an Adams resident hung a corn doll up in a tree to warn them and scare them off.  Now I have seen something similar to that…in the movie “The Blair Witch”!  Everyone who saw that movie remembers that scene, John and Chad!

In one episode, John and Chad embark on a spiritual cleansing of the land to break it of a possible Native American curse by performing a shaman ritual.  There’s just one little small problem with that scenario: The area the Bell farm was located at was NOT, I repeat, NOT, Native burial ground.  It was Native hunting ground, as was all of the South. Did they not read up on the Tennessee Mound Builders who buried their dead in mounds, hence why they were called Mound Builders? Furthermore, real Native “Shaman” do not publicize that they are “Shamans”.  In fact, they don’t really use that term to describe themselves.  They most definitely wouldn’t perform any ritual on a TV show. But then the ritual goes terribly wrong and John must turn to his only hope: an exorcism! (Cue ominous music!) At that point my level of “I can’t even…” was exceeded.  Is the Catholic Church aware that there is apparently an express lane to exorcisms?  They might want to put a phone call in to John and Chad.

In yet another horrible episode, they whip out their reliable K2 meter and place it on a tombstone.  Of course, it starts lighting up when a foreboding question is asked.  It is purely coincidence that it seems to light up at the exact same time the camera man leans in to get a better camera angle. But of course, that big ass camera and boom mike aren’t going to manipulate that trusty K2 meter. Way to go, dumb dumb!

Why does Chad’s service dog, Newton, bark and run off, leaving his handler by himself? Isn’t that what he’s NOT supposed to do?

The main characters, John and Chad, were constantly hearing footsteps, twigs breaking, and movement in the woodline while they were investigating at night.  I would hope that they did.  It’s called wildlife.  Not uncommon, especially in the backwoods of Tennessee. Just because you’re in a fabulous tent and you turn your flashlight off doesn’t mean all the other animals have to go to bed, John and Chad!

The show really struck a nerve with me when they started dispelling the history of the legend as being factual, grounded in historical documentation. Oh you dedicated purveyors of truth, John and Chad! In actuality, the first book that was ever published about the Bell Witch was written 75 years after the alleged occurrence.  Anyone who would have had first hand knowledge of what actually happened was dead when it was written. Yeah, let that sink in for a moment. The author of the book wasn’t even alive when the Bell Witch “haunts” began.  According to the show, the legend was first documented in the handwritten diary of Richard Bell, who was six when the “hauntings” began. Nevermind the fact that he didn’t write the diary until 30 years after the “hauntings”.  The problem with this is that they completely overlooked the fact that the guy who wrote it is remembering with great detail something that supposedly happened when he was six and he waited 30 years to write it down.  Not only that, but there is no evidence that the diary even exists as no one has ever seen it.

I could go on and on about the absurdity of the show but you get the point.  If you get the opportunity to watch it, don’t.  You can’t get that time back. All the tomfoolery and chicanery will suck the marrow of life from your bones with each passing minute.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but I bet if we ask John and Chad’s trusty K2 meter if that will happen, it will light up, and that makes it real.

I give this show -666 stars….for obvious reasons.

Paranormal Safety and Code of Ethics

Standards, ethics and safety are all consistent topics that are almost always being tested by the paranormal community. Nearly on a daily basis, we hear news stories of ghost hunters being hurt while unlawfully trespassing. We hear of historical locations being damaged. We hear of ghost hunters with immoral practices, shady pasts, and with questionable motives.

With every story, I can’t help to think that safety and ethics are steadily falling by the way-side as ghost hunters clamber to become popular. Suddenly it’s no longer about whether or not we’re proving ghosts exists, but instead the attitude is, “prove to me it ISN’T a ghost”.

This sadly seems to be the way of the paranormal community as of recently.

It’s been proven time and time again, what gets you popular in the paranormal community, is bringing in the “ghost stories”. This has nothing to do with truth, but rather to satisfy people’s desire to be freaked out. The same reasons they’re following most paranormal pages, are the same reasons people watch horror movies.

no-trespassing

Safety:

According to fellow Paranormal Enlightenment Magazine author, Chad Stambaugh who wrote “An Investigators Guide to Paranormal Safety”, a survey he conducted last year with over 5,000 respondent turned up the following results; “2014: there were 4,738 reported injuries. This is ranging from a splinter all the way up to hospitalization for lung issues or a broken bone. We also had 24 deaths that were related to/or classified as paranormal investigating/ghost hunting.” These numbers are staggering. It’s unfortunate when many of people being hurt, could have been prevented these injuries by refusing to investigate locations that are obviously unsafe for public safety.

Websites like www.paranormalsafety.com have sprouted up trying to teach investigators the dangers of paranormal investigation. These can range from anything from carbon monoxide poisoning, to electrocution, to falling through a ceiling while in an attic.

Disregarding no trespassing signs and refusing to heed warnings, are attributing factors to many of these injuries. Carrying a first aid kit, wearing appropriate safety gear, abiding by the law, and most of all using common sense; are all things that may help prevent many of these deaths and injuries that happen yearly.

Being in the wrong place as the wrong time could come at a great price. There is no never an excuse for getting failing to gain permission. Refusing to explore uncharted areas that may result in injuries to you or your members, could help.

Be smart. The safety of you and your team members are number one. This is far more important that looking brave for your YouTube channel. Your “bravery” could cost you your life, not to mention, trespassing can get you and your team arrested.

Ethics:

With the popularity of paranormal TV people are constantly trying to keep in competition with a ever-growing community of paranormal enthusiasts. Ghost hunters are always looking for a way to stay ahead of the curve by constantly pushing the boundaries of what is both morally and socially acceptable by most standards. It’s no secret that many paranormal investigators create YouTube channels mirroring what they see on TV. We have learned historically, that controversial topics put ghost hunters at the forefront of the popular mainstream of paranormal investigating.

Those that are consistently putting out edgy or controversial material are the ones who typically bear the most followers. Those that also put out what the average person views as “evidence of the paranormal” on a very regular basis quickly become fan favorites. And yes, these people have fan bases.

In the race to be the latest and greatest, people forget that a lot of we do, effects other people. Namely this includes private home and business owners seeking help, and the families of the deceased. Running to our devices to speak to celebs was one thing, but now we are even seeing teams attempting to jump on a fresh scene of a murder. At the end of the day we are responsible for our own actions, and how we effect others lives.

Do we want to be known for being edgy and morally impotent, or do we want to have our legacy be that of truth and integrity.

While we are attempting to seek the dead, we need to remember that the living need advocated for as well. This is a concept I learned in nursing. While we are tending to the dead, there is generally a family who needs tending to as well. When a death is fresh, and a funeral has not even occurred yet, an investigation is not appropriate.

How do I feel this can be fixed? I don’t know that it can. In a large community that has no solid set of law, standard nor rules. Who says that’s right or wrong? Who do we have to answer to?

I would guess the same courtesies we use in everyday life and interactions should apply to this facet of our lives as well. Starting with “treat other as you would want to be treated” would be a good start. Who we should answer to should simply start with holding people accountable for their actions as a “community”. Refuse to stand behind those impose immoral practices.

If you google “paranormal code of ethics” you will see many have tried to establish a set of moral code of conduct practices for everyone to follow.

Like any one in the public eye, as we are, I feel that this comes with the responsibility of being a good role mode with firm moral integrity. We should take pride in setting good moral standard for others out there.

As I always say, sometimes the RIGHT thing, isn’t the popular thing.

Has Social Media Ruined the Paranormal Community?

It is hard to think about what the paranormal community did before the rise of the Internet, let alone social media. I truly believe the Internet has had a major contribution to the growth of the paranormal community due to the fact that it has connected like-minded people in a venue where you don’t have to travel. The Internet has provided a safe place for those who have had experiences to keep their anonymity while seeking advice and help. But, we do not live in a perfect world, and the rise of the Internet hasn’t been a completely positive contribution to the paranormal community. It seems that the positive impacts that have been accomplished are becoming overshadowed by the negative complications that have arisen. Today, there appears to be an over inflation of drama, invasion of personal privacy, threats, and more.

Where has it gone wrong?

Before social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace came around, there were websites and message boards dedicated to the topic of the paranormal. These sites gave users a chance to create their own usernames, and information that could still leave some mystery. People could come as they were and network, along with being heavily monitored by administrators and moderators. Granted, this wasn’t a perfect world either, but it didn’t seem quite so…dramatic. The anonymity was there, which gave people that security blanket and the bravery to be more bold, but it was easy to dismiss since they were just a username on a message board.

Then, we come to the rise of Facebook and Facebook groups. When it comes to this special social media site, everyone and their dogs and babies are on it. Most people have one profile only that include their real names, photos of their children, location, age, and more. When you join these groups with your one profile with all of your information exposed, you are taking a risk of someone looking into you. It seems that because of these extra bits of information, and the better ability to connect and network, there is now a plethora of drama. Groups can be dedicated to slamming one individual. Teams can engage in popularity contests based on the number of likes on a fan page. People can create duplicates of your own profile and try to ruin your reputation; all because you either debunked their evidence, disagreed with them, or chose not to engage at all. Ultimately, hurt feelings, egos, and a desire to be famous has tainted the paranormal community and the progression of productive research. The Internet just exposed this shortcoming and gave it steroids.

Instead of networking, debating, and exchanging of ideas, it seems as though that social media has turned the paranormal into one big popularity contest. People don’t join groups to objectively discuss anymore, but rather find a group that will agree and not challenge anyone’s fake photos or theory. Furthermore, I feel that the paranormal community’s presence on social media is slowly turning into a brothel of negativity. As productive members of the paranormal community, what can we do to change this course?

What it all comes down to is that we are all on the same ship, but the ship has multiple wheels, so the ship can’t go forward because there are so many directions that the paranormal community can go. Either we can all abandon ship and go our own course in our own lifeboats without trying to shoot the other lifeboats out of the water, or come to a universal consensus to use one wheel. Whichever decision we all come to, it all comes down to respect. Not everyone is meant to agree with each other, but we can all respect each other. No one has nominated anyone to be a hero or a martyr in the paranormal community to try to fix it all. Basically, if we can all adopt a “code of ethics” that includes respect, a willingness to accept criticism and feedback, and a positive attitude, I wonder what we could accomplish in this field?

In the end, this dream is pretty much a “land of milk and honey” fantasy. But even if one person or two could start adopting this mantra, how long will it take before it becomes contagious?