This episode: Celebrity Paranormal Project, Season 1, Eps. 1-4. Watch it on Tubi TV.
Next episode: Blind Date, Season ???. Watch it on YouTube.
Since Halloween is coming around the bend, we decided to do an appropriately spooky themed show for this episode. This week we discuss the zany mélange of celebrity and the paranormal from VH1, Celebrity Paranormal Project, where D-list celebrities stumble around haunted institutions with EMF meters and séance scrolls, talking to ghosts of people who have never existed.
After discussing the concept and structure of each half of the mash-up, we talk about the fakery on behalf of the production team and parse out the differences between the authenticity of the paranormal activity and the authenticity of the cast’s reactions. We then move into whether the idea of ghosts is plausible in general and the scanty nature of the ‘evidence’ involved. Finally, we examine the role of gender and the show’s interaction with broader horror tropes before ending with a comparison of this show to other paranormal reality shows we’ve watched and theorize why this show failed when it had such a broad appeal in the abstract.
Finally, we’re going to be taking a break for the holiday season to get a couple episodes in the bag and we’re going to be releasing less frequently next year, unfortunately. It was just a case of JS having significant career and family obligations and Mike realizing the weekly grind of podcast post-production wasn’t terribly sustainable. (We were a bit naïve going into this about the work that would be involved, obviously.) That being said, we are hoping that having more time between episodes will lead to a higher quality podcast and we are kicking around some ideas between us on what we can do to facilitate that, so if you, the listener, have any ideas on that front that you’d like to see implemented, this would be a great moment to get in touch with us. Thanks for listening so far and have a wonderful holiday season!
Show Notes and Links
3:20 / Based off an earlier reality show, MTV’s Fear
4:12 / Running down the concept and episode formula
7:28 / Talking about the ‘Heart of the Haunting’
8:17 / This show borrows heavily from horror tropes and narratives
8:41 / Briefly comparing the tone to other ‘ghost hunting’ shows
9:18 / Transitioning to the ‘celebrity’ aspect of the show
10:29 / We never see the production crew, but they are out there (unlike the ghosts)
11:51 / Discussing how the types of celebrities on the show differed by gender
12:32 / They really dug deep on some of these credentials
13:38 / Segueing into the perennial authenticity question
14:00 / Many of the narratives in this show appear to be invented
14:42 / Discussing the shenanigans of the ‘ghosts’ (aka the PA’s)
17:15 / Our favorite obviously producer-planted ‘relics’
19:12 / The questionable physics behind the ‘ghost catcher’
20:13 / The show relies heavily upon re-enactments
23:20 / Discussing the authenticity of the celebrity reactions
24:32 / There was a strong correlation between celebrities already believing in the paranormal and finding ‘evidence’ of paranormal activity; Mike mentions Casper the Friendly Ghost
26:00 / Mike’s storytime – freaking out at a ‘haunted house’
27:52 / JS had a ‘jump scare’ moment watching the show
28:40 / A few of the celebrities express skepticism or ambivalence
29:37 / Segueing into the plausibility (or lack thereof) of ghosts in general
32:05 / JS discusses the odd cultural specificities of American ‘ghost stories’
33:40 / Nobody suggests that we look for ghosts in Auschwitz
34:11 / The Finding Bigfoot Problem: Shouldn’t we have better evidence than ‘whispers’ on digital voice recorders or thermal blips?
35:48 / The gendered nature of the ‘freak-outs’ – Did the selection process play a role?
37:23 / A couple of examples of women behaving against the grain
38:28 / Mike brings up an episode where a male celebrity is called a ‘little girl’
39:05 / Discussing the objectification of the female celebrities, the objectification is reminiscent of many horror flicks
41:00 / Comparing this show to Monica the Medium (uplifting vs. frightening – sincerity vs. cynicism)
43:52 / Unlike Monica, you don’t need to buy into the existence of the paranormal to be entertained
45:00 / The show was entertaining in small doses, but the formula began to get repetitive
45:34 / The high points of the show depended on the specific celebrities, but too many celebs were just there to look good
47:45 / Comparing the failure of this show to the (relative) success of its predecessor
48:45 / JS pitches a CPP All-Star reunion show
49:36 / Closing with the appeal of the show
50:33 / JS was surprised this show only went for eight episodes
51:01 / Mike thought it might have been viable if the editing was tighter and the celebrities were stronger
51:58 / We discuss the production costs and fantasize about the production company going the full Bridezilla
53:38 / The logistical difficulties of maintaining the show in terms of having enough different locations to explore
55:30 / An announcement for our listeners: taking a holiday break and a new release schedule for next year (aka podcasting was more work than we had originally bargained for)
56:45 / Talking about our first episode of the next season: Another First Love, this time from Mike