The point of paranormal pop-culture

It typically happens on those nights - that The 'Ghost Hunters' cast. From left: Steve Gonsalves, Grant Wilson, Jason Hawes, Dave Tango, Kris Williams (Courtesy NBCUniversal)just so happen to be dark and stormy. There might be a vibe in the air and the hair on your neck starts to tingle like a Spidey sense. In the not-far-enough-recessed portion of your brain, you start summoning images of Regan, Emily Rose or (shudder) even Bill Cosby's Ghost Dad.

Long before movies, TV or radio shows, people told ghost stories and believed in monsters and magic men. Spawned from mythology and religion, these tales were essentially paranormal popular culture. They tapped into the shared experiences of anyone who has been afraid of the dark and unknown - and isn't that pretty much all of us?

According to a 2008 poll from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a 2007 Harris Interactive poll, a large number of Americans have some belief in the supernatural, with about half of the respondents claiming to have had at least two experiences with. Additionally, about 40 percent of the population has a belief in ghosts.

So it may be no surprise then that as more people are reporting a belief in the supernatural, entertainment media is reflecting this with an uptick of shows and films surrounding the paranormal.

The immensely popular "Ghost Hunters" on the SCI FI Channel, which is a reality-TV documentary style show that follows around Roto-Rooter plumbers Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson as they investigate reports of ghosts is a prime example. The show airs on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m., and routinely draws up to three million viewers each week. Also in the "paranormal investigator" reality show mix is "Paranormal State" on the A&E channel, "Most Haunted" on the Travel Channel, along with many others.

Paranormal pop-culture isn't limited to ghosts, either. Similarly documentary-style shows "UFO Hunters" and "Destination Truth" seek out otherworldly beings and missing links that may be tangible, but not frequently visible.

On the scripted front, "Fringe," "Lost" and "Supernatural" follow their mythology-driven spook show predecessor "The X-Files." "Medium," "True Blood" and "Ghost Whisperer" belong more in the paranormal soap opera genre.

In films, the paranormal isn't a territory for B-list talent and direct-to-DVD markets. Ghosts and goblins are given the class act by respected mainstream players like Sam Raimi ("Drag Me To Hell"). Plus, there is a certain bespectacled boy wizard and a blonde sparkling vampire that continue to successfully make the leap from books to screen.

The trend in popular culture isn't just limited to movies and TV. Internet radio shows, books, comic books and video games are dominated by paranormal subject matter. People are believing more and more, and entertainment media is reflecting that.

And that's where this space will come in. To reflect the increase in paranormal popular culture, I will be covering all the media that puts a spotlight on whatever goes bump in the night.

Welcome to Paranormal Pop Culture. Keep checking back for new content but please don't turn off the lights when you leave - I scare easily.

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