by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground e-Magazine
This TAPSCon stuff has me thinking, as I am wont to do.
We worship our celebrities in this society. Totally, utterly and completely. So much so that people who could probably ill-afford 750 bucks scraped it together in order to meet a couple of plumbers made good. And now, those same people didn’t get to and are disappointed. But they are afraid to ask for their money back because they have been told that asking for a refund would ban them from being able to do so in the future.
Is this Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson’s fault? Probably not. They didn’t ask to be worshiped. They followed their passion for paranormal investigation and got lucky. They wound up on a major network doing something in a way that people hadn’t seen before. Now they are famous. People beg to meet them. People idolize them and hero worship them.
Other people have a different response. They are watching and waiting for the fall. I get it. I’ve heard the arguments of falsified evidence. Occasionally, I’ve made or supported one. I’ve been around the paranormal community for a while. I’m well aware of everyone’s axes to grind with TAPS.
I’m not here to judge either “side” of the argument. Instead, I’m just reflecting on what it must be like. One day you are a plumber going about your business. And then, in the blink of an eye, you are on the hottest paranormal show on television and dealing with all of the attendant fame that goes with it. It must be almost unimaginably disorienting.
I can kind of see how it happened. They got a show. They probably thought, “Well what the heck – it could be fun – let’s see where it goes,” not really expecting it to go anywhere. The television audience is notoriously fickle, after all. You never know what is going to take off and what is going to wind up tossed in the trash heap of ideas that just didn’t quite make it.
For the first year, it was probably exciting. Hey….look what’s happening. People are WATCHING. They enjoy it. There is validation in having others find value and entertainment in the work that you pursue with a passion, after all. And how exciting it must be to be recognized for the first few times. People know who I am! That must mean I am someone!! There is a lure to this that is undeniable.
But then, something starts happening. People want something from you. They EXPECT something from you. People who you’ve barely met or haven’t seen in years come out of the woodwork to associate themselves with you. In most cases, this is benign, although your privacy starts to slip away. Occasionally, however, it isn’t. Someone maligns you. Someone slanders you. Someone uses your name for their shady purposes. Someone tries to use you as a meal ticket. Sponsors have expectations. Networks have expectations. And they are all looking squarely at you. Suddenly you realize that fame has a price.
There is a downside to being everyone’s hero. We love our heroes in this society. We also love to see our heroes fall.
No matter how you feel about Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, TAPS and Ghost Hunters, surely you, the everyman, can relate to their story. One day started out like a normal day. They snaked a pipe. They unclogged a toilet. That same day, opportunity came into their lives. And like every opportunity, there were good parts and not so good parts. But they took a risk and it paid off.
Now, however, in the spotlight of fame, everything is magnified. Every move is under a microscope. These aren’t people who went into something expecting fame. They aren’t movie stars. They aren’t politicians or millionaires. They are just men – people like you and me – with spouses, families, mortgages.
What if the opportunity came along for you to make it big doing what you loved? Would you take it with the best of intentions? Would you reach for the brass ring, hoping for the best while not really having expectations of it becoming the next big thing?
But what if it did become the next big thing? Would you be ready? Is your sense of who you are and what you are about strong enough to withstand those who would worship you and those who would love to see you fall? Those whose sense of self is strong enough to withstand the onslaught of fame are rare indeed. We may think we could handle it, but how could it not go to our heads on some level? We’ve seen it before. Repeatedly.
It’s really easy to be the guy on the couch. It’s easy to be the one who worships or detracts. But how easy is it to be the other guy? The one who makes it?
There are little compromises that come with fame. The first one probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it’s a slippery slope. Do they become bigger and bigger? Could they threaten who you are? No one sets out to compromise their integrity. Many do because they feel (or are made to feel) that it is the only way to maintain what has been achieved. Fame requires one to be made of strong stuff if there is even a chance of staying unchanged and uncompromised.
Put yourself there. One day, you are going about your business. You have a passion that you would love to do full time – to make your life’s work. It seems a barely achievable dream. And then opportunity knocks. What would you do?
Yes. I get that it is a thought exercise. But we live in a world filled with possibility. In spite of what is happening with our current economy, I also believe that we live in a world of opportunity. You never know. You could be the next big thing.