Vice's "Motherboard" Explores Ancient Astronauts, Claims "2001" as Spiritual Ancestor of "Ancient Aliens"
Vice Media is partially owned by A+E Networks, the parent company of the History Channel, the network which broadcasts Ancient Aliens. A+E and Vice also are partners in Viceland, a cable channel featuring content produced by Vice, including a talk show in which substance abusing stoners comment on History’s Ancient Aliens. Vice is also the owner of Motherboard, which ran an interesting article attempting to give Ancient Aliens an artistic pedigree in the runup to its April 27 thirteenth season premiere. Writer Becky Ferreira, who specializes in reporting space news, ties Ancient Aliens to the fiftieth anniversary celebrations for 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Weekend Roundup: "Ancient Aliens" Can't Count; Ex-Fox News Host Praises Spiritualism; and Robert Sheaffer Tries to Find Tom DeLonge's Money
Ancient Aliens has never been known for its factual accuracy, so it only makes sense that the series can’t even get its own anniversary correct. According to TV Shows on DVD, this June the History Channel and Lionsgate Entertainment will be releasing the Ancient Aliens tenth anniversary commemorative box set, featuring what press materials call the series’ first ten years of content:
Just in time for its 10th anniversary comes this mammoth ANCIENT ALIENS gift set featuring all 135 episodes from the HISTORY channel hit! The best-selling acclaimed HISTORY series celebrates its 10th anniversary with this incredible gift set featuring all 10 seasons, all 135 episodes and over 100 hours of content.
History Channel to Launch New "In Search Of..."; Plus: Scott Wolter Marks Three Years Since End of "America Unearthed" with Radio Interview
The History channel has greenlighted a ten-episode revival of In Search of… starring Zachary Quinto, taking over the hosting role originated by Leonard Nimoy in the 1977-1982 original. Quinto was selected because he, like Nimoy before him, played Mr. Spock in Star Trek. In announcing the decision yesterday, the network said that the revived series would explore “dynamic” subjects “such as alien encounters, mysterious creatures, UFO sightings, time travel and artificial intelligence.”
Yesterday, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch ran an article by journalist Alexander Zaitchik exploring the close connections between fringe history and hate, notably the way that white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and anti-Semites have incorporated claims as wide-ranging as ancient aliens, lost civilizations, and Bible giants into a narrative designed to promote a racist agenda. Zaitchik quotes me as an expert in fringe history’s darker themes, and I am pleased that he made good use of much of the information that I provided about some of the many ways hate groups have employed fringe history to craft narratives of racial supremacy.
As we approach the New Year, it’s time to take a final look back at 2017 in fringe history. This was a year when political news overshadowed almost everything else, but 2017 still managed to find new ways to use and abuse history, rivalling the historic low of 2016. This year in fringe history might not have been more extreme than last year, but it was certainly darker. It was the year when fringe historians rejoiced that they had an ally in the White House whose courtiers proudly flew the banner of “alternative facts,” but more than anything, it was the year of Tom DeLonge, the musician turned ufologist who published an ancient astronaut book, launched a UFO research company, was crowned UFO researcher of the year, and took credit for the year’s biggest UFO research flap. Let’s look back at what happened over the past twelve months.
William Henry Claims Leonardo da Vinci Painting Is "Technology" for Transdimensional Communication with Christ
:Yesterday morning my hot water heater burst, and I had to spend most of the day dealing with the fallout and the cleanup. Worse, when the new heater was being installed, the plumber found that the pipe leading to the heater had cracked around a joint and was leaking. It was ready to burst. So, the pipe had to be replaced, too. Wasn’t that a merry Christmas present? The upshot is that I had very little time to complete work or prepare a blog post for today. So, I did what I usually do when I need a quick hit of something absolutely mind-blowingly stupid. I turned to a talking head from Ancient Aliens.
Of course, it’s also a great time to contribute to my annual fundraising campaign:
History Channel Executive Boasts: Templar and Alien Conspiracy Shows "Continually Worked for Us," Will Inspire More of the Same
Last night the History channel debuted its new series about the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail, Knightfall, a series designed to capitalize on the momentum generated by the network’s hit series Vikings and its core audience’s fascination with Da Vinci Code conspiracy theories. While critics offered mixed reviews of the series, many complained that the show was either dramatically inert or overly generic. Nevertheless, it is the first entry to build on Vikings to create a multipronged programming strategy designed to turn History into a full-service entertainment destination, where scripted shows provide an entry point for documentary features on the (quasi-) real history behind the story.
Next month, the Travel Channel is sending Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates on a “special event” in which he goes in search of “the mother of all questions.” Do I even have to say that he’s doing a multi-episode hunt for ancient astronauts and UFOs? While I have every confidence that Gates will fail to find ET (since he’s never found any other myth he’s looked for), the fact that the ancient astronaut theory—for which, read “ripping off the more popular Ancient Aliens”—is seen as a ratings-grabbing “event” is about as depressing as it gets in the shady world of unscripted cable TV. Almost a decade after Ancient Aliens debuted, it remains the platonic ideal of cable TV programming: lazy, cheap, and wildly popular. Stay on the air long enough, and every program ends up talking about space aliens.
And becomes repetitive. That, too. Ancient Aliens has covered the Stone Age Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe, a 12,000-year-old stone temple complex, many times in the past. Off the top of my head, I know of at least six episodes that discuss it, but I’m sure I am forgetting some. It should probably be obvious that the producers of the show were paying attention a few months ago when some Graham Hancock super-fans decided to try to cast Hancock and Andrew Collins’s speculations about the astronomical orientation of the ancient temple complex in academic language in an obscure academic journal, spawning a media frenzy among the uncritical who failed to realize that the academic authors basically just repeated Andrew Collins (though I am surprised that they did not mention the article by name). I give them this much credit, however: Ancient Aliens makes no bones about revisiting a well-worn topic. The title of S12E16 is “Return to Göbekli Tepe,” conceding that we have been down this path before.
I guess when a favorite piece of evidence for ancient astronauts is debunked as little more than a hoax, you have two choices: You can accept the verdict of reason, or you can fight it. Ancient Aliens has made the unusual choice to try to rehabilitate the fake Dropa Stones, a hoax that first appeared in a German vegetarian magazine in July 1962 before being popularized by books like Peter Kolosimo’s Not of This World. The Dropa Stone hoax became popular enough that Sputnik magazine used a picture of one such stone as part of the cover illustration for an article on Uzbekistan “alien” cave art that Erich von Däniken later mistook for the art itself. The stones, it goes without saying, have never been shown to exist outside of the imagination of ufologists. Ancient Aliens takes the lack of evidence as proof of a massive conspiracy to suppress the truth.
History Channel Sends Giorgio Tsoukalos on Latin American Tour as Part of "Ancient Aliens" Promotional Extravaganza
Venezuela is in the midst of a terrible crisis that is consuming every level of its society. Pres. Trump called the country a dictatorship, and the socialist government has come under international criticism for pushing through constitutional changes under a dubious referendum with the goal of consolidating the ruling party’s power for a generation. Meanwhile, ordinary people are starving as food supplies run low. So what does one of the country’s leading newspapers think that the public needs to know about? Giorgio Tsoukalos and space aliens, of course.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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