UPDATE: I should have spared my fingers the trouble of writing most of this – apparently, this is a PR stunt by the Discovery Channel to increase attention to their new series. I’ve seen no official confirmation or proof that they are actually in a “partnership” with the Vatican. What did I write about ratings-hungry producers?
This has been getting a lot of buzz this week:
Discovery Channel is teaming with the Vatican for an unprecedented new series hunting the deadliest catch of all: Demons.
The Exorcist Files will recreate stories of real-life hauntings and demonic possession, based on cases investigated by the Catholic Church. The project includes access into the Vatican’s case files, as well as interviews with the organization’s top exorcists — religious experts who are rarely seen on television.
… If the show’s first season is successful, the network hopes its partnership with the Church will pave the way for producers GoGo Luckey to take the series to the next level — joining Catholic investigators on live demon-purging ride-alongs. (Move over, Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.) [Entertainment Weekly]
I’m none too thrilled about this, honestly. To start with, exorcisms are serious stuff. And they certainly aren’t for public consumption, so I cringe to think what will come out of this. What, after all, can we really expect from the Discovery Channel and ratings-obsessed producers? Any night of the week you can already flip on a cable show about Church-related topics that has all the historical accuracy and attention-to-accuracy of a Dan Brown early draft.
The idea that the Vatican is “behind” this show is dangerous, because it erodes the church’s credibility in general when it gets behind what is basically a reality-TV show about demonic possession. I’m sure the Vatican won’t have much (if any) say over the final cut. I’d bet, in the end, viewers will be exposed to just about everything besides a faithful portrayal about what the Church believes about extraordinary circumstances of demonic activity.
Exorcisms are the sort of subject matter that don’t tolerate mistakes or ignorance well.
I’m sure the Discovery channel is getting what it wants out of this “deal”. The question remains, what is the Vatican getting out of it?
If there is hope that this collaboration will produce a net good, I’ve missed it so far.