The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Psychic Kids" and A&E - Child Abuse on Television

I saw the commercial and was disgusted, but then I had the misfortune to see an actual episode and it turned my stomach. That sick feeling of watching some asshole hurt a kid with no one to help, or like a viewing of Jesus Camp. I'm talking about the new exploitation show on A&E, Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal.

I had hoped maybe the people at the top of a network would have a bit of sense - not much, but a bit - and not completely use kids to make a fucking dollar. These are children who believe - mostly because of their parents, who came across as clueless and helpless in the face of their child's "gift" - that they can talk to ghosts and in one instance, heal people.

The hosts are painful. The main guy is Chip Coffey, a "psychic" douchebag of the highest order who, on his MySpace page (hurry to shut off the annoying music) has this:
Following successful careers in traditional counseling, the entertainment industry and travel management, I became a full-time psychic and medium in September, 2001.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said "Chip Coffey is every bit as accurate as John Edward." InStyle magazine called me "a cross between John Edward and Dr. Phil ... a psychic who doesn't hestitate to tell it like it is." Fate and Fortune, a European magazine, featured a story about my visit to the ruins of the World Trade Center with the widow of a man who died there on 9-11.
I love that; "every bit as accurate as John Edward". Sooo...not at all, then? And in the Things That Make You Go Hmmm category, he became a "full-time psychic and medium in September, 2001"? What a coincidence - not. I think that should read, "Chip saw an opportunity in September, 2001 that he was too much of a heartless,greedy motherfucker to resist." It's hard for me to think about someone sinking lower than realizing their life's calling is to exploit people after a national (worldwide?) terrorist attack tragedy, but ol' Chip managed to do just that with A&E and Psychic Kids. And yes, he spelled it "hestitate" on his MySpace page. Asshole.

Also, off of Coffey's personal page FAQ, we a have this nugget:
Q: What abilities do you have?
A: I am a precognitive, clairprescient psychic, which means that I am able to forecast future events with substantial accuracy by tuning into messages that I receive from my spiritual partners in the Higher Realms. I have also been blessed with the gift of communicating with the spirits of those who have departed life, as we know it, here in the living world.

I have an advanced degree in Counseling Psychology and I am very well-versed in a variety of spiritual and metaphysical subjects. In 2002, under the tutelage of Patti Starr, I became a "certified ghost hunter" and, since that time, I have participated in a number of paranormal investigations. I frequently consult with both victims' families and law enforcement agencies on unsolved murder and/or missing persons cases.
Ok, full disclosure, I had to look up what, exactly, the fuck was meant by "clairprescient". Oddly, the word was not listed at Merriam-Webster, so I have to conclude that Coffey just made it the hell up. The douchebaggery just doesn't end.

If you were wondering who the hell Patti Starr is, she's this wack-job. Seriously, go there and read until you get to the part that says (emphasis all me, baby):
She presents an eerie PowerPoint program which consists of numerous photographs, videos and audio recordings of ghostly activity captured during her many investigations of haunted locations. She also reveals unsettling stories of her ghostly encounters! The evidence she presents will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat and make skeptics into believers.
Right, ok, so first of all, PowerPoint presentations are never creepy. Ever. In addition, if you have all that fabulous "evidence", Patti, why not show it to people who may actually corroborate it and vouch that it's not a...what's that term...? Blatant fraud? Yeah, that's it.

Lisa Miller, Ph.D is the intellectual on the show. She's the one with actual credentials, but apparently she has very little in the way of perception of objective reality. Dr. Miller's little bio thing from Columbia seems legit, but her focus on "spirituality" plus her acceptance of these kids' "psychic gifts" completely outs her as a woman living with delusions laying around in her brain like so many creepy Hummel figurines. That grown adults jump right to, "these kids are interacting with spirits from another dimension, so let's deal with those meanies", instead of starting at the obvious point of, "perhaps these are lonely kids who just need a buddy", staggers my feeble mind.

A review I read at SciFi.com puts it fairly well:
If these kids really are psychic and they are being terrorized by forces few can see, along the lines of young Cole, played by Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, how horrifying is that? And if these kids are not psychic, but rather have taken having an imaginary friend to a new level, that would be a terribly sad, considering that the kids are at an age where they should have grown out of that stage.
That aside, the bigger question becomes "Should this material be on television even if it considers itself a documentary?" While exploring psychic children might help others who have similar issues, how will it affect the kids being featured? And is this entertainment?
Now, being the trained skeptic I am, I would not give the, "If these kids really are psychic" bit any weight at all, but whatever. The point is valid - if these kids have actual problems, then why the fuck are we watching them instead of getting them help? Why do you have some shithead confirming their delusions and digging them deeper into their, "I'm broken yet special" protective shell?

This metaphor is overused, but the whole thing truly made me feel dirty. It was watching abuse actually happen; adults who either knew better and didn't care or who are delusional themselves and were allowed to foist their craziness on kids who need professional attention. I believe the former because of something I read at the bottom of ol' Chip's page - his Legal Disclaimer which reads:
Please be advised that psychic readings cannot predict,
forecast , diagnose or provide information
with absolute certainty.

No guarantees or assurances of any kind are given
and Chip Coffey will not be held accountable for
any interpretations or decisions made by recipients
based on information provided during readings.

For entertainment purposes only.

For medical concerns, please consult with a physician.
For legal matters, please contact an attorney
I think he knows full well he's packed-full up to his goddamn eyebrows with shit. Shame on him, on Lisa Miller, and on the money-grubbing assholes at A&E - the Adolescent & Exploiting channel.

4 Barbaric Yawps:

At 18/6/08 1:54 am, Blogger Atheist in a mini van. said...

I saw that, too. I was sickened by how invested the families were in their child's "gifts". Kids are interesting beings. They depend heavily on feedback. So, if they do something and mom/dad gets excited, then they'll do it again. When mom and dad begin investing in their "gifts", then how does the kid back out when they figure out it's not legit? And, why would you be happy about your child being able to predict the future. What the fuck kind of sick burden is that?!?! So, Little Timmy fails to predict the car accident that kills family members. Do you think he'll ever forget that he couldn't predict anything to save his family? And, telling these kids they have special powers is perpetuating a lie. Letting these kids drop every other childhood activity or homeschooling them to "preserve their abilities" is bullshit. BAH!

 
At 24/7/09 9:57 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes me sick to see these kids get used by someone who only cares about money and not really help them.i have gone threw what those kids have and still do but i dont make a profit of someone like that when i help them cause i still am learning and i figured we could help each other and i give them a chance to meet others like them so they can see they are not alone and hopefully make new friends

 
At 24/11/10 6:51 pm, Blogger marrohead said...

You idiots- they are real as can be and YES THEY CAN SEE SPIRITS--you idiots - we are not alone!

 
At 24/11/10 7:48 pm, Blogger Heathen Mike said...

Marrohead - And your proof for this assertion would be where, exactly? Just saying something doesn't make it true - you know that, right?

 

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