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Thinking Gray about Ghosts

November 23, 2013

By Brad Sutcliffe

Like everyone else who packed Dahl chapel for Lorraine Warren’s visit, I was excited to be spooked. Admittedly, I am a skeptic about anything peddled through fear, but I was open to an education on the spirit world. I had yet to see “The Conjuring” and this was a rare occasion where I’d hear an amazing story before seeing the exploited Hollywood adaptation of it. It was also an opportunity for a great first-date with the curiously peculiar Lily. I had even rented “The Conjuring” to watch with her afterward. She’s cool so I was trying to be smooth. What a perfect night… until the lights dimmed and that d-mn projector was turned on.

Before I give my opinion on the night, I’d like to say that Tony Spera (son-in-law to Lorraine) gave an excellent introduction for Lorraine ,and even I, the skeptic, was taken aback by her follow-up speech about her gift for glowing spirits. Everyone appreciates good storytelling.

Alas, let me now go on my unapologetic rant.

Does anyone remember Spera nonchalantly, and almost guiltily, mentioning that “The Conjuring 2” is going to be coming out? He barely mentioned it, and it happened right before the movies clips came rolling in, but it was said and that’s important. Here’s why:

If you’ve seen first film, you’ll remember the doll Annabelle that played a brief, and seemingly forced role. Out of nowhere, the evil spirit decides that haunting this poor little family is getting boring so he goes and pulls the equivalent of a quickie on Lorraine’s daughter. Obviously the father miraculously saves her by opening a door. This, I guess, was enough for Satan’s minions to be like, “he’s not playing around let’s go back to haunting the main characters of the film.” The doll is never mentioned again, they abandon their traumatized daughter, and, once again, the film is about the original family.

Let me ask you something: what percentage of Spera’s videos were about that doll? Probably the same percentage he quoted as to what was real and what was ‘Hollywood’ about “The Conjuring.” Apparently, he has come to the scientific conclusion that 85 percent of the movie had happened in real life. I’ll blindly take his word though, because he is a man of the spirit. Anyways, yes, those clips were filled with examples and explanations of the doll’s evil ways… 85 percent by my count.

Now I had solely come to hear sweet Lorraine give her story. Even when she was talking about all of her pets, in that cute little way old people do, I enjoyed listening. So why was I being peddled some story about a doll that was possessed by a demon? And, why couldn’t she just tell the story herself, instead of Spera taking care of it all with the help of some shady 1970s news clips? After all, according to Jim Fry, Associate Director of Campus Events, “The purpose of their talk was to share Lorraine’s career in the field of paranormal research that has spanned 50 plus years and to share her life experiences, some of which inspired this summer’s movie, ‘The Conjuring.'”

After doing some research I found two very interesting facts. “The Conjuring 2” was green-lighted for production before the first one was even released in theaters. Let me ask you something: if you knew a movie was going to be extremely profitable (about 16 times the budget profitable), would you not leave room for a sequel? “But Brad, how do go about accomplishing this?” Easy, you warm your audience up to the sequel without them knowing it, and you add ‘2’ to the first one’s title. Ready for the second fact? Coincidentally, the sequel is all about the doll.

Now when I started asking students and staff who was behind Lorraine’s visit, I was given vague answers or sent in circles. It’s surely a possibility that my sources were wrong or maybe didn’t know what they were talking about, but everything seemed a little fishy. I was told by an ASAP representative that Fry was the one who had pushed the idea of Lorraine Warren’s visit. But, I was then told in the ASAP office that other schools had contacted Monmouth and insisted she visit because it would make it cheaper for everyone else. Briefly mentioned in the same conversation was the fact that the planning surrounding her visit was unlike the way other visitors are usually chosen (I should state here that the students answering my questions admitted they were not directly involved in the event).Then, Fry told me that Lorraine’s agent had first contacted him. Confusing? Yes. Conspiracy? Probably not. But, who doesn’t love unsolved mysteries?

The point I want to make is that we can’t forget that marketers are always looking for new and exciting ways to grab our attention. While everyone was distracted by ghosts we were being peddled the story-line behind the sequel of a movie. A movie, I should add, whose target market is dominated by students our age. Abusing student organizations to market next year’s blockbuster is cheap press. Seeing Monmouth College be played like a pawn is embarrassing. It’s like me using an opinion piece in The Courier to announce that our history department has an exciting new curriculum that’s going to change the way the world sees the subject (wow, free press actually tastes pretty good when you’re on this end of it).

Maybe I’m just crazy and these people really wanted you to sit in a chair for two hours staring at a slideshow of dolls and white spots in pictures. If I’m wrong I’ll be the first to admit it. Either way, Lily liked my theory so I’ve got that going for me.

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