Saturday, October 31, 2009

UFOs: The Ghosts of Dead Test Pilots

Numbers on CBS is one of my favorite programs; but when it comes to fringe subjects like UFOs, the paranormal or conspiracies, the writers and producers fall into the lazy, smirking trap of making the so-called believers stereotypes, and generally dismissing Fortean subjects all together. Last night's episode was no different; the plot was an interesting one, about weird beams from the sky killing people. Who, or what, could be the cause? UFOs from outer space of course, according to the geeky, bordering on fanatic, UFO seekers investigating the abandoned military facility where the beams were manifesting.

Both UFO geeks and FBI agents casually throw about various theories for the unexplained beams. The UFO nerds are serious, the FBI agents treat such ideas with expected disdain. But both toss out supposed known explanations, such as aliens, covert military ops, or "the ghosts of dead test pilots." Sometimes it's "alien ghosts." This explanation -- ghosts of dead test pilots and/or aliens -- was mentioned several times during the episode. (At one point one of the characters calls Agent Epps, their boss, "Spooky Mulder.") It was so ridiculous, just hearing "ghost of dead test pilots" once, but several times? I wondered: where did the writers get such an idea, and why perpetuate this particular little idea? Mass culture is familiar with UFOs, aliens, abductions and probes, thanks to those cliches that have made their way into sit-coms, commercials, and all kinds of media. Ghosts are popular too, but aside from Jim Marrs' Alien Ghosts at Roswell which is too esoteric for the mainstream, the theory of dead test pilot's ghosts, or alien ghosts, being responsible for UFOs is pretty much non-existent. So I came away with the only thing I could: the people repsnile for the Numbers episode about "alien ghosts/pilots" was a bit of disinformation.

On the other hand, the character of the agent from "Department 44" of the Pentagon was great; very MIB like, in a humorous way. I suppose that could also be criticized; like the movie Men in Black, presenting the MIB phenomena as humorous even while heroic, characters, serves as another bit of misinformation. The esoteric, sinister and non-human aspect of MIBS is ignored.

1 comment:

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Good one! A pox on these smirking and purposeful non-informed.