Is there room in the Para/Crypto/Fortean world for a gun-toting, paranoid, bipolar, opinionated bastard? A lonely romantic in search of his lost soul? A knight, Samurai, gunslinger, born in the wrong century? A self-destructive, doom-driven survivor seeking redemption? A heavy drinking gonzo outlaw cryptozoologist whose ego is exceeded only by his libido?
No, there isn't. That's why I'm here...

21 January 2010

The Gummerfan Letters: Open Letter To Josh Gates

This is the first in a series of posts consisting of "open letters" or "e-mails I'd like to write". Though I doubt anything will ever come of them, I've decided to post them just to get some things out of my system.

Josh Gates
Producer "Destination Truth"
The SyFy Channel

Mr. Gates,
As a long time fan, researcher, and investigator of cryptids and other strange phenomena, it was with a keen interest that I began watching your program when it first aired. I continue to view and enjoy it to this date, despite some of my reservations and criticisms.
I really enjoy the fact that DT features cryptids and creatures from different parts of the world, cryptids that most viewers with only a casual interest in cryptozoology have never heard of. I commend the efforts of the DT team to spread the word and information about creatures other than Bigfoot, Nessie, El Chupacabra, and other major "stars" in the field. While some may not appreciate the investigations into other areas, such as UFO's, aliens, or ghosts/spirits/demons, I believe these phenomena are all related and have no problem with the casting of a broad net.
My biggest complaint, and one echoed by many others, is the lack of results, conclusive or otherwise. I'm sure you're aware of the many complaints that the DT team spends more time screaming and running away from potential creatures than in attempting to identify them. My advice is, for God's sake, pack some heat! Granted, this can be a problem given the various laws and regulations of the respective countries in which investigations are conducted, but on numerous occasions it would have been a simple matter to arrange for either team members or a local guide/escort to provide some armed support. Treking into unknown realms without mission/environmental appropriate weaponry is unprofessional and beyond reckless, not to mention the fact that a forced retreat defeats the purpose of the investigation. I and other viewers would absolutely love to see some caps busted every now and then. I remember as a lad growing up in The South the many times I went out into the woods on the hunt for the legendary "black panthers" packing my faithful Daisy BB gun. Running away from every noise in the jungle is neither investigation nor adventuring. Give us a little firepower action sometime!
Speaking of bringing back, the inability of your team to sneak, smuggle, or ship certain pieces of potential evidence out of the area of operations is another major disappointment. There's nothing like a little intrigue to spice up a trip. One of the greatest tales in the annals of cryptozoology is the story of how the "Yeti finger" was successfully smuggled out of Nepal by the wife of actor Jimmy Stewart. There were giants in those days...
And please, ditch the "TAPS" guys and use some independent reviewers. Having Steve, Tango, Jay & Grant examine evidence doesn't exactly inspire confidence. These guys aren't audio engineers, or video analysts. Relying on their "expertise" is like having a hair sample "analyzed" by a couple of hunters to the old General Store.
Finally, a bit of wisdom: Avoid the local food! Pack in some MRE's or find a local McDonald's, at least until after the investigation! I fully realize that "local color" is an important aspect of the show, and I do enjoy seeing a glimpse of the culture of the area. But, in addition to fatigue, environmental adjustment, adrenaline, and the effects of jet lag, it's ill-advised, unprofessional, unwise, even foolhardy, to head out for a night of investigation in a dangerous environment after dining on various and sundry animal testicles.
I wish the show continued success and I'll keep watching regardless of whether you take any of my advice or not.


Autumnforest said...

I like that, Burt. You're all concerned for them. Yeah, I can get why the don't have guns for travel, but they really do some stupid shit that should be protected with even a tazer or some pepper spray. They were lucky that big cat stalking them that one time didn't just lunge. I think my biggest complaint right now is that he hasn't tapped into the NW and Bigfoot (not skunk ape). He's done two fantastic Yeti ones and honestly I dream of an episode where they parachute into the most remote woods of Washington State and set up camp there. That would be the most exciting show ever. People are always taking logging trails and such, but there's a vast forest there where no one goes on foot. Just plunk down where BF is likely to hide and set up a camp--not for a night--for a week or more! I love the local flavor and Josh's adorable mocking of the culture. It's all done in good jest and I get the distinct feeling he makes just as much fun in America as everywhere else. p.s. I wanna know the story behind his necklace--as someone who reads jewelry, I'd love to see what the contents of that are!

Above the Norm said...

I am a big fan of this show. Like you pointed out, they don't just look for ghosts, UFO's and Bigfoot - they bring attention to other strange creatures that I have never heard of. Josh's whitty comments keep me entertained as well as all the fantastic locations. I also wish that they did collect better evidence. The Yeti evidence was great both times they investigated this beast. They caught some interesting footage of ghosts and even of a doll's eye opening which creeped me out. But like you and others, I would like to see more. I also have to totally agree with dumping Jason, Grant, Tango and Steve's advice. Lately I just haven't trusted it. All and all, I will continue to watch this show because I just love it. Great letter Gummer!

Gummerfan said...

I actually meant to include something about the length of the investigations. Jump in, jump out, jump to a conclusion. I might do a quick edit.
I've wondered about the necklace, too. Was it a gift from some tribal elder or inscrutable monk? Did he make a trade for it at some exotic street bazaar? Did he pick it up at a WalMart in Des Moines?
I've also noticed his humor is a little less "biting" lately. Frankly, in the early seasons he seemed to play the "Ugly American" role too earnestly. I'm glad he's taken it down a notch. More funny, less mean.

Julie, that's pretty much how I feel about the crypto/paranormal programs. I've got complaints about all of them, there's a lot I'd like to see changed, but I really enjoy watching them since they're all we've got. :D

GodLoveandBows said...

I do like Destination Truth. Some of it's a bit far fetched, like you mentioned... but it's Josh's humor that does keep the show comical and light. Love it! :)

Gummerfan said...

I didn't care for JG's "Ugly American" humor the first few seasons. Once he started directing the jokes towrds himself & the team and took more of an "Innocents Abroad" approach, I enjoyed it more.
I'll admit it's hard not to like Josh Gates.(but I'm still hotter!) :-D