Welcome to the twelfth (!) season of Ancient Aliens, which at this point is less a TV show and more of a thought experiment in how a TV production crew of cockroaches might survive a nuclear holocaust that destroyed all facts, evidence, and reason. There isn’t much to say about this episode, “The Alien Hunters,” by way of preface, as it is as much as possible just more of the same. This episode hews away from the show’s title adjective in favor of its recent devolution into freshman dorm room bullshitting about anything vaguely related to space aliens.
Late last week, popular news and entertainment site BuzzFeed went in search of ancient aliens as part of their regular BuzzFeed Unsolved feature. Their investigation into the ancient astronaut theory did not go well as the hosts presented a half-assed BuzzFeed view of ancient astronauts, which one of the two hosts agreed was “absolute nonsense.” The other host just laughed. I guess they are going for a believer/skeptic or Mulder/Scully vibe. In fact, the biggest mystery that remained unsolved at the end of the video was how two ignorant Millennials came to believe that low-information bullshitting was a sufficient basis for an “investigation,” and that goes for both the believer and the skeptic, neither of whom acquitted himself well.
In Radio Interview, Giorgio Tsoukalos Tries and Fails to Use Medieval Pyramid Legends to Prove Alien Contact
A few days ago, my longtime semi-nemesis Giorgio Tsoukalos gave a rare interview to Jimmy Church of Fade to Black radio to promote the return next week of Ancient Aliens for its twelfth season and ninth calendar year on the air. Tsoukalos more or less conceded that the whole Ancient Aliens series is merely an outgrowth of the two-hour original pilot, to which its 120 hours have added little, and that the pilot, in turn, was developed as a knockoff semi-tie-in to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, itself an ancient astronaut movie. According to Tsoukalos, executive producer Kevin Burns created the show as “a love letter to Chariots of the Gods.” That seems about right.
Peter Levenda Attacks "Ancient Aliens" in "Rolling Stone" without Actually Watching "Ancient Aliens"
Last week I complained that I was getting tired of material that pretended to be new but was really recycled. It happened again this week. The Daily Mail breathlessly reported that a YouTube channel called SecureTeam10 posted a “new” video about the so-called Roswell Rock, which you will remember from its appearance on Ancient Aliens and In Search of Aliens several years ago. The video turns out to be mostly a summary of the Ancient Aliens and In Search of Aliens episodes, with worse visuals and worse voice over. The video doesn’t bother to even add new claims to those of the earlier shows.
Remember how A+E Networks, the owner of the Ancient Aliens trademark, said that they had hoped to turn Ancient Aliens into a “lifestyle brand”? Well, it seems that some of the show’s competitors have latched on to the bandwagon, rolling out new merchandise and lifestyle opportunities, both for believers in ancient astronauts and for believers in Fallen Angels.
New Ideas about Minoan-Mycenaean Relations; Plus: What Is Behind False Copyright Claims Aimed at "Ancient Aliens" Stars?
There is a very interesting article in Smithsonian magazine this week describing new revelations about the Mycenaeans based on excavations of a particularly rich Mycenaean grave. Because the article takes forever to get to the point, I’ll share it with you here: The grave goods from a very early Mycenaean burial are heavily influenced by Minoan culture, which has led to a new hypothesis that the Mycenaeans adopted Minoan culture right at the start and therefore their takeover of Crete was less like an invasion and more like a merging of two cultures, perhaps without distinct and formal divisions between them. The fact that the researchers claim that it might have been similar to the modern E.U. and can teach us lessons about modern issues of xenophobia and nationalism should, though, give us a bit of pause that, as with so many new ideas, we’ll find in them a few years from now a bit too much of a mirror of modernity.
Happy New Year! As we start 2017, I thought I would continue my annual tradition and look back at 2016 in fringe history. It was probably one of the most depressing years for fringe history in decades.
It looks like our old friend Giorgio Tsoukalos has gone on tour again, racking up cash payments to spout predigested catchphrases from Ancient Aliens and perhaps also deliver his standard PowerPoint presentation. Tsoukalos is set to appear tonight at the Hamburg Music Festival in Buffalo, New York, where audiences will pay $35 apiece to listen to him discuss ambiguous evidence for space aliens in what is billed as “a mind-bending, brain busting evening of deep space mystery and Ancient Astronaut exploration.” I’m sure that the promotional team didn’t mean the accidental honesty of admitting that listening to Tsoukalos will cause one’s brain to break down, but we’ll spot them the gaffe.
So, it seems that I do everything the hard way. I learned to read Latin, Spanish, French, and other languages so I could translate texts from as close to the original sources as possible. Meanwhile, 73-year-old novelist John Crowley is making money off of a “translation” of the foundational Rosicrucian text The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencruetz. As the New Yorker reported, “Because he doesn’t know German, Crowley pieced together the book by comparing various English translations, deciding on the most readable and sensible interpretation of a given passage and then putting all of it in a new voice.” Doesn’t that take the cake? I know a guy did a version of the Odyssey that way years ago, but I can’t say I’m thrilled to see that Kickstarter funders paid Crowley and his publisher at Small Beer Press $73,000 to rewrite someone else’s English translation without an understanding of the underlying text. I felt bad that I had to use the French edition of the Akhbar al-zaman for my translation because I can’t speak Arabic. I should start demanding money to rewrite other people’s translations of texts, too!
Such is the world we live in today.
"Ancient Aliens" Creator Kevin Burns Discusses His Belief in Fringe Claims and Conspiracies in New Interview
Right now in California, fans of the History Channel series Ancient Aliens are gathering for Alien Con, the fan convention put on by the History Channel and Famous Monsters of Filmland. Regular readers will remember that the convention’s PR team offered me a chance to interview the creators and stars of Ancient Aliens and then promptly stopped communicating with me the second that I took them up on the offer. Based on press coverage of the convention, it appears that the stars of the show and producer Kevin Burns are only willing to sit down for fluff piece interviews and are afraid of being challenged.
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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