I discovered this on the Intrepid Magazine blog where it was discussed in the context of a three-decade-old French children’s cartoon that explored ancient astronaut themes. Called Once Upon a Time… Space, the show featured planets where ancient Earth astronauts mated with and fathered alien races, where Greek gods were actually aliens, and where ancient astronauts, Atlantis, and psychic powers sit uneasily together. The Intrepid blogger credited this show with inspiring his love of ancient history, and he took to task skeptics who express outrage at the bizarre ideas of Ancient Aliens:
…as an adult I can appreciate how this old French cartoon & its predecessor infused in me a fascination with ancient history at an early age, by teaching me to apply a long-view perspective to cultural events; all this while expanding my horizons with the promise of what the future had in store for us, if only we entertained the notion of “What if…”
It’s the same argument I’ve heard over and again: There is no harm in alternative history so long as it “inspires” people to learn more. But this is the lazy person’s way out. It suggests that there is no way to make history interesting on its own, that awe and wonder come from the supernatural and not the real. Yet children (and let’s be frank here—we’re talking about boys, since no one ever thinks about girls’ interest in aliens) love pirates and castles and cowboys and dinosaurs without the need to spice them up with aliens or psychic powers. The argument from boredom is the cynical soul of world-weary adults projecting onto children their own longing for a touch of the divine in a world of taxes, work, obligation, and struggle.
Which brings us to Joe Rogan, whose Syfy show I thought was poorly assembled and somewhat boring, but who has something useful to say about alternative history. He spoke in an interview with i09 back in July but which I only found out about today:
You see, they’re not just looking to find out if UFOs are real. What they’re looking for is something magical and something mysterious that hasn’t been discovered yet. They’re looking for some excitement in their boring lives. One of the ways that I describe these people — and it’s really quite unfortunate — is that they’re a bunch of unfuckable white dudes. I haven’t found a single black guy looking for Bigfoot. I’ve look[ed] high and large, and it’s all white dudes in their late forties and fifties. It’s all midlife crisis people. They’re not the happiest people in the world — and no disrespect — but they’re looking for things to be real that aren’t necessarily real.
The more you talk to people about UFOs or Bigfoot or psychic phenomenon, the more you start to realize that the same sort of thinking exists almost across the board. And it almost stops being about the subject — it’s more about the idea of mystery than anything else — this recurring theme of someone trying to figure something out, and trying to find something that makes their otherwise mundane life more interesting.