A classmate recommended Ancient Aliens after making a joke about the show. I’d never heard of it despite it having aired 16 seasons already. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock. Or aliens were somehow involved. I decided it was time to watch an episode or two as research for a short story I had to write for one of my creative writing classes. I couldn’t come up with an idea for what I needed to write and turned to a story starter book that I have called Write the Story. It is filled with ideas and challenges you to use 8 words it lists in the story.
The prompt a chose? A conspiracy theorist convention.
Enter Ancient Aliens. I watched a couple episodes as research, and I was sucked in. This show is amazing in so many ways despite 99.9% of it being complete and utter crap. This show is that line where science fiction and science fact meet in a satirical work of art. Keep in mind that my I have never followed the celebrity rumors that has given rise to a plethora of tabloid magazines. I was more interested in the adventures of Batboy and what political candidate Bigfoot endorsed and whatever other weird ness that the Weekly World News came up with.
My first advising appointment at university involved my advisor asking me what I wanted to do as a kid. Journalist or writer depending on the day, veterinarian, astronomer, or cryptozoologist. Then I admitted I wanted to write for the Weekly World News. Oddly, my advisor did not look at me like I had completely lost my mind. I figure he’s probably heard weirder things.
I’ve read a number of articles written by screaming mad scientists about the pseudoscience involved with Ancient Aliens. I even read an article explaining how the show was racist by discrediting non-white cultures by claiming aliens were responsible for things like the pyramids. I don’t think that the show is intentionally racist. I don’t even think that discrediting what non-white people have accomplished throughout history even crossed the minds of those behind this show. White Europeans colonized virtually everywhere and during that colonization discovered all these incredible things. Ancient Aliens blames aliens for everything from some of these creations of non-white civilizations to the extinction of dinosaurs to the Bermuda Triangle. Everything that anyone has ever speculated about. That doesn’t mean that the show is racist. The show very well could be, but I doubt it.
While I think racism being an underlying theme of the show is a stretch, nearly everything about the show is a stretch.. I say nearly because they do have to present breadcrumbs of truth in order for the audience to buy what they are selling. It should be noted that one of the main “experts” on the show is Erich von Däniken, author of Chariot’s of the Gods, and convicted con artist. It’s really hard to take a s how seriously when it relies on the testimony of a known con artist. The show is still entertaining.
I have a lot of questions about Giorgio Tsoukalos. Ancient Aliens wouldn’t be the show it is without him, but how did someone with a bachelors degree in communications who worked as a promoter for the IFBB make the U-turn necessary to co-found Legendary Times magazine and go on to produce and star in Ancient Aliens?
- God = aliens
- Bigfoot = aliens
- Dinosaur extinction = aliens
- Crop circles = aliens
- Ark of the Covenant = aliens
- Plagues and pandemics = aliens
Honestly, I love these kinds of conspiracy theories for so many reasons. The looks you get from people when you start seriously explaining them are awesome. People look at you like you have completely lost your mind and they are trying to decide if you are a harmless nutjob or if they should run away as fast as they can. I also love urban legends about things like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, drop bears, and the Ogopogo. One of the things that just adds to the greatness of the show and adds so much to the satire is how they pit Mainstream Scientists against Ancient Astronaut Theorists. It’s like listening to creationists and evolutionists argue, only it’s more entertaining.
Some of my favourite childhood reading materials were National Geographic and the now defunct science and science fiction magazine, Omni. I have always known the difference between science fiction and science fact, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the blurring of those lines, that is what makes for some of the best science fiction literature and movies, at least in my mind. Entertainment has always asked us to suspend reality, but when things become blurry, it makes one think and theorize and wonder “what if? At the end of the day, I think those who are complaining about the show and writing these articles denouncing it are taking the show too seriously.
There is much more dangerous misinformation circulating out there. If someone believes that Bigfoot is actually an extraterrestrial and post things on social media arguing the fact, they aren’t really hurting anyone, and most people aren’t going to take them seriously. On the other hand, those posting misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines are doing a lot of harm. We had eradicated measles in the United States until the anti-vax movement started circulating that vaccines cause autism. Don’t even get me started on QAnon. Maybe Ancient Aliens will do a story on anti-vaxxers or QAnon and blame it all on aliens.