The Power of Modern Mythology Combined with Mass Media
Kevin Mannis, writer and proprietor of the the original "dibbuk box", has come clean, and yes, Zak Bagans knows the full story, start to finish, top to bottom, front to back.
On July 8th, an article on Input Magazine was published, and it lays a lot bare.
On July 11th, Kenny Biddle, writer for Skeptical Magazine and source of existential bane for many a hardcore paranormal believer, interviewed Kevin Mannis with article author Charles Moss. Even more was laid bare.
It isn't necessary to pick apart the details of the origin story of the dybbuk box, (I'll spell it this way in its current popular conception), it's been written about numerous times from varying viewpoints across the paranormal and skeptical spheres. That information is now presented most clearly in the podcast episode I've linked above, spoken from Mannis himself. What's new though, is that Mannis is attempting to set the record straight once and for all on this hoax-filled box, his fictional story, and his original intentions. Including, to all prying eyes and ears, what Bagans himself thinks of these revelations.
Kevin Mannis is Jewish, so the backstory of the box and his fictional character "Havela" and her supposed survival the Holocaust with a wine cabinet, was a story he could create easily with having intimate knowledge of Judaism. The whole story though, entirely his creation, is based upon his own beliefs and weaving them into the narrative for the item. Where the story has gone since his inception in 2003, is another matter we've been witnessing for nearly two decades now.
Included in this situation is not just Kevin Mannis and Zak Bagans, but also a third man, initially a friend and colleague of Mannis, named Jason Haxton. His part in the box's celebrity and demonic status? Perpetuating the story in a manner that makes it appear true, and even a sort of rivalry between himself (a Methodist) and Mannis, on the mysticism at the heart of the story. That is a spicy and bold move for the friend and second owner of this wine cabinet, and he's the individual who originated the "curse the Mannis family placed on the box." In subsequent TV appearances of Haxton, he's apparently exaggerated very often, we'll just leave it at that.
Has Haxton come clean in any capacity the way Mannis has? Nope. He's even the one who authored the 2011 book The Dybbuk Box, providing even more fictionalized mythology which he disguises as facts. He's *invested* in the dybbuk box mythos created by Mannis and it seems his wallet and his reputation are at stake in some way now. It all appears just strange and underhanded on his part. Mannis, honestly not so much. He comes across willing to be, as he said, "backed into a corner" and asked the hard questions. He's said this to both Biddle and Moss, and to those who've confronted him as well in the last few years.
He is telling us all, right now, the dybbuk box is made up.
The commercialization and profiting off the box itself is primarily on Bagans through the assistance of Jason Haxton. As we are all aware, Bagans has the massive influence and following to promote any item in any way he and his production team choose to. The editors of his work create TV shows and episodes to scare, and entertain - in what I believe is that order. As long as they're selling what they need to in order to remain dominant on Travel Channel and earn their employers money, their job ends at fear and entertainment. Bagans, as the public-facing personality and foundation of Ghost Adventures, makes it easy to understand why he would chose, and who he has utilized, to obtain and retain a false narrative that best serves his goals. What isn't easy, is confronting him. He's an inaccessible celebrity.
So is Bagans at fault? Sure. Is Mannis at fault? Sure. Is Haxton at fault? Sure. Is the entire gullible internet at fault? Sure. This is complex as all hell.
The caveat is that the nuance of each individual's intentions and the trajectory of events from 2003 until now, July 2021 (do pandemics cause people to re-evaluate their life choices and begin to confess things?) makes for a far more complex story than was ever intended. The series of events that lead to the initial fictional story and the item acquisition by Mannis himself, to it being perpetuated through the overwhelming mass media we live within, are murky and fraught with saving face and making money. But not all by the same people.
The movie, The Possession was clearly for money. I don't think we need to elaborate more than that.
Has Bagans been in contact with Mannis since the Impact article was published? Yes, and if what Mannis spoke of during the July 11 interview with Kenny Biddle is entirely true, Bagans and his team are in the process of some form of dybbuk box damage control, including his presentation of its narrative going further. With the Ghost Adventures brand being very prominent, and also very carefully tailored for consumption, only the next few months will tell if there are observable changes.
We might remember the Rabbi who participated on a live special of Ghost Adventures and was confronted for his opinion on the box. He was visibly confused and uncomfortable with his place in Bagans' museum during that live broadcast. He was invited onto a subsequent show for an interview to clear up that confusion that the audience and critics saw as well. I write this as a side note because this pertains to how Bagans has worked, over the years and in the face of confrontation, to perpetuate his narrative with the dybbuk box for his own gain and profit. It suits him. It serves him. There is no question there.
Mannis has presently come to the forefront to confront his own creation after nearly 20 years of it becoming what it is now, but there have been attempts in the past. He contacted HauntME in 2015 with his own confession and knowledge of the dybbuk box origins.
HauntME is a paranormal investigation group who create videos on youtube in a series format, and have done so while including a dybbuk box belonging to the man who now owns the Conjuring House in Rhode Island. The episode was years ago, and included Greg and Dana Newkirk in a way that attempted to disseminate any fear of what the box was. Their work, and the cast of HauntME were seemingly caught in a crossfire of one person's belief with an item that they were likely aware was not what he believed it was. A sensitive episode was created from how they all interacted, but years later we know the man with the box used it again to gain popularity with the Conjuring House. People make some weird decisions, is all I can glean from his moves through the years with a waxy old box. HauntME and the Newkirk's did their best.
Mannis claims his own original artistry created the story; he's a writer, sculptor and composer in Oregon. He defends that he has had a series of strange, dangerous and tragic personal events which he calls coincidences out loud, but perhaps cautions that there may in fact be more than coincidence at work thanks to the dybbuk box. He defends his right to create as an artist, but he does not want his artistry to do any more harm, and harm it has caused.
Anti-Semitism has increased over the last several years of our fraught and tense situation on a political and national level. Credible threats and violence are a constant reminder that Jewish people are still in danger for their beliefs. The literal demonization of Judaism and the Jewish people over thousands of years is reflected now, within the paranormal, this seemingly niche context, through the dybbuk box and the development and promotion of its fictional origin.
And finally, if you need an example of ways in which you can damage your brain via YouTube, and also creators who will not feel sorry in the least for what they've done in taking the fictional dybbuk box and running with it:
Thanks for reading, I hope to never have to address this topic again unless it is overwhelmingly good news. I won't hold my breath.
EDIT 12/12/21: No, nothing's changed, just more people comfortable being anti-Semitic for views. I didn't hold my breath. If anyone ever looks at this blog besides the trolls of my past, know one thing: I'm not shy about disliking Moe, Mindseed and Omar. All of the people who stage-5 cling to them and work with them as though they've finally "made it"? Kick rocks.