I spend a good deal of my free time looking for stories to write about for the blog, and honestly, it’s getting tougher and tougher. Usually, my criteria hold that it has to inspire me to say something worthwhile, to contribute some thoughts or a different perspective than the one the original story is trying to tell. Most of the time, I like to debunk silly photos or other “evidence,” or just take people to task for their ridiculous claims. Paranormal “reality” TV shows are another favorite target of mine. So I was drawn to this story about a new ghost hunting show. But then…well, a whole range of mixed feelings immediately kicked in. And I realized that my thoughts on it were not my typical humorous take, but something more serious and introspective.
So here’s the long and the short of it: Destination America (the network that brought us the ridiculously fake and offensive Mountain Monsters) is debuting a new ghost hunting show, featuring an all-black cast. They are calling it Ghost Brothers. And apparently it’s a comedy.
The (Potentially) Good
So let’s talk about the positives first. It’s great to see people of color finally being represented on a paranormal show. Up until this point, I can count on one finger the number of folks on any paranormal show that weren’t white. Honestly, the only two that come to mind are Joe Chin’s brief stints on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International, and Rosalyn Bown of Ghost Hunters Academy. Other than that, though, paranormal TV has been pretty exclusively white.
Now this is something that has come up when talking with my friends and colleagues in this field. Most, if not all, of them are white. We often wondered why. And of course, one thing that kept coming up was that you don’t really see people of color on paranormal TV shows. I think it’s safe to say that the lack of diversity on these shows is a bit worrisome.
Whether you are talking about ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, or anything in the paranormal and/or unexplained realm, these are basic human interests that are shared by everyone. What happens to us when we die? Are we alone in the universe? Are there things on this very planet that we have not discovered yet? Questions people from every walk of life have asked. So where is the equal interest in investigating these phenomena? It’s a question that needs to be asked, and one that I don’t have a good answer for. If anyone has any thoughts on this, we’d love for you to comment.
The (Potentially) Bad
But reading about this show brought up more bad feelings than good for me. Like I said, it’s great to see not just one person of color, but an entire team, investigating ghosts. But personally, there are some issues here. The fact that they are really pushing that the team consists of three African Americans comes off as desperate, like the network is trying too hard to show how diverse they are. To use an issue like minorities not being represented at the Oscars to pitch your new show just feels classless and lazy to me, piggybacking on a bigger, broader issue to sell some reality TV show.
Second, calling the show Ghost Brothers just…makes me squirm a little. Is this a show about paranormal investigating, or is it a Blaxploitation flick from the ‘70s? It comes across as very tone deaf to me, considering everything going on in the world today. I’m sure I’ve laughed at my share of politically incorrect jokes in the past, but this truly bothers me. Is this really how the paranormal community wants to view the first non-white reality TV cast? Would making these three paranormal investigators, who just happen to be black, have a serious show with a more scientific background, unwatchable? That’s apparently what Destination America believes.
Lastly, the fact that it’s a comedy, in my opinion, just demolishes any of the “progress” in diversity that Destination America is crowing about. Because, you know what? If this were yet another trio of all white male paranormal investigators who were investigating and it was a comedy show, most everyone in the paranormal community would be totally against it. Again, it feels a little like exploitation of stereotypes to me, with the whole “THIS time, the black guys make it out of the haunted house alive!” thing. This feels different than something like Marlon Wayans doing “Scary Movie.” There’s a fine line between spoofing stereotypes and bigotry to bring awareness, and using those stereotypes purely to grab ratings.
Why does it have to be a comedy? Do we need to take them less seriously because they are not white? Now, I can’t say that’s what’s actually happening here. I haven’t seen the show yet. Maybe these guys just bring a little levity to serious investigating, and are trying to move away from the melodrama of Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures with some humor. I sincerely hope that’s what is at play here, and it would be a welcome change from the formulaic style of these shows that we are accustomed to. But my fear is that this is just more exploitation for ratings. The track record of Destination America is not good. Look how far back they set the stereotype of “hillbillies” with Mountain Monsters….
What you see is what you get with Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass and Marcus Harvey, the Southeast’s newest and most dynamic paranormal investigation team. These three best friends lead Destination America’s new series GHOST BROTHERS, on a mission to uncover whether some unique, legendary “haunted” houses are the real deal.
Raised in religious households, Dalen, Juwan and Marcus were taught that “messing” with the dead is dangerous business, but some unexplained experiences of their own piqued their intense fascination, ultimately driving them to find out firsthand just how spooky the supernatural can be. Blending natural curiosity with comedic flair, these charismatic characters offer a fresh, funny and unique take on the spirit world. From Pilgrim Media Group, producers of the long-running mega-hit “Ghost Hunters,” the six-part series GHOST BROTHERS is set to premiere on Friday, April 15 at 10/9c, only on Destination America.
“Anyone boycotting the Academy Awards because of the absence of minorities represented might well find a kindred spirit in, GHOST BROTHERS, the new series debuting on Destination America, featuring the first ever African American ghost hunting team,” said Henry S. Schleiff, Group President of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “At DA, we make a concerted effort to create programming that reflects the diversity of all Americans, everywhere, and are excited to have Dalen, Juwan and Marcus join our family.”
“Destination America is the leader in paranormal programming, and we are excited to bring diversity to this space with the very first African American ghost hunting team on television,” said Jane Latman, general manager of Destination America. “Dalen, Juwan and Marcus’ personalities shine through in GHOST BROTHERS, wearing their emotions on their sleeves in an incredibly relatable way during all of the fear, thrills and chills of investigating things that go bump in the night.”
“We’re excited to join the Destination America family and prove that there can be a little humor in the unknown,” said Dalen Spratt. “But the best part about GHOST BROTHERS is that THIS time, the black guys make it out of the haunted house alive!”
As budding enthusiasts of paranormal investigation, the GHOST BROTHERS take a passionate hobby to the next level in some of the country’s most haunted locations. By day, Dalen and Juwan are fashion designers with their own label called Loren Spratt, though, in their off time, they have been investigating haunted houses, hotels and cemeteries together since 2011. Marcus, a comedian and “Barber to the Stars,” met Dalen in 2009 and now, as an “experienced” ghost hunter, he considers himself the Peter Venkman of the trio.
Haunted hot spots explored in GHOST BROTHERS include the Magnolia Hotel in Seguin, Texas; Prospect Place in Trinway, Ohio; Allen House in Monticello, Ark.; Magnolia Plantation in Derry, La.; Delta Queen Steamboat in Houma, La.; and the Fitzpatrick Hotel in Washington, Ga..
Will I check out Ghost Brothers? Hard to say. I like checking out these shows, most of the time just for the guilty pleasure of watching something so terrible that it’s funny. I’m just not sure how funny this show will be.