Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Paranormal Vs. Supernatural

Google Paranormal and Supernatural and you’ll get a wide range of definitions. The terms are not synonymous, although many like to blend their definitions and borders in popular literature and entertainment. 

I'm reading the Percy Jackson Series
Paranormal Activity is phenomena popular in culture and often refers to vampires, werewolves, and ancient gods rearing their heads today (Harry Potter, Twilight, and Percy Jackson). The protagonists have magical powers that help keep the evil forces at bay. It’s not something that needs to be explained scientifically. Romance is often introduced into this genre. Sex can sometimes be to the extreme. 

The Supernatural would also indicate no explanation by normal or scientific means. However, the activity is attributed to a supernatural source such as God, demons, angels, and so on. The supernatural has a spiritual tone and was once a part of our world and had a place in it. 

But it has transformed itself and returned to our world to defy it. There is a fear brought on by something like a housing development built on an ancient Indian cemetery (Poltergeist) or someone sees dead people (The Sixth Sense) or something traumatic has happened like a murder of an innocent person with more murders on tap (Ghost). 
Because Poltergeist (Noisy Ghost) Was Runner Up Today

The supernatural often has the element of horror (Pet Semetery and The Shining) but it's not necessarily a staple (Field of Dreams). Behavior and events have been influenced by the intervention of supernatural beings with secret powers that influence earthy affairs. 

But the emphasis is mainly on suspense rather than horror, although there can be some horror in the story. A paranormal setting is usually less violent and often relies on a romantic theme. You won't find too much of the latter in a supernatural thriller. less violent and often relies on a romantic theme.
The Blending: Today, we see a blending of genres. That's the norm. And it's okay. It's not critical to draw lines in the sand and say this is paranormal and this is supernatural. Hollywood liberally slaps the word "paranormal" on a movie that is really a supernatural thriller. But it is important to draw at least a few distinctions so we can write better stories and know when it's appropriate to combine these genres and when to differentiate between them.

Question: What are your thoughts regarding paranormal and the supernatural genres?

Honorable Mention: Poltergeist, PAN (Paranormal Activity Network)

Monday: Quantum Physics