Since this week I had an extra blog post reviewing Project Blue Book and sat through two hours of Ancient Aliens, and my son has an ear infection, I will make only a brief blog post today to report the results of the Nielsen ratings for this week’s premiere of Project Blue Book. The program had a disappointing debut, fumbling 1 million viewers from its Curse of Oak Island lead-in. The show had 2.2 million viewers, with a 0.43 rating in the 18-49 demo. This compares unfavorably to Curse of Oak Island in the preceding hour, which attracted 3.2 million viewers and scored a 0.8 in the demo—all while airing against Pres. Trump’s prime time address in the Eastern Time Zone. Blue Book, which did not have presidential competition, returned remarkably low numbers given its extensive promotion across television, extending even to a fake newspaper wraparound on last Sunday’s New York Times.
I have my limits. Tonight, the History Channel presents a 2-hour Ancient Aliens special in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Chariots of the Gods, which was actually this past spring. According to the episode description, the special will ask whether Chariots author Erich von Däniken will finally be proved right thanks to recent discoveries. Because this is going to take so much time to sit through, I won’t be writing another lengthy post for the few hours between now and this evening. I’ll try to have my Ancient Aliens review posted shortly after the episode airs.
Compared to years past, this was a rebuilding year for the fringe. Most of the major figures on the fringe sat the year out, preparing for bigger things in 2019 and beyond, and those that were active either failed to produce their promised results, delivered results that failed to meet expectations, or spent their time teasing revelations yet to come in 2019, or whenever they need a cash infusion. There was no major fringe history bestseller this year, and the wannabes in the category came from small presses and consequently received little or no media attention outside dedicated fringe sites. The new fringe pseudo-documentaries that made it to air either muddled through their middling runs or failed outright. The reason for the decline in the fringe was easy enough to see: The fringe had gone mainstream in 2017, and the continued presence of conspiracy theorists and fringe thinkers in the upper ranks of the Republican Party and the Trump Administration lessened the demand for pseudo-history. These sorts of claims tend to be more popular as counterprogramming.
Last week, I reported that Megan Fox’s new Legends of the Lost brought in disappointing ratings when just 429,000 people tuned in, according to preliminary figures, putting it in the same Tuesday ratings class as Motor Trend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides (424,000) and CNBC’s The Profit (430,000). The numbers are roughly average for Travel shows, and just two-thirds of those of those of new episodes of Mysteries at the Museum, the highest-rated series on the network, but on par with day-side and early prime reruns of Mysteries. Nevertheless, despite the manifest lack of public interest in her program—representing 0.1% of the U.S. population—the media remain fascinated by… I almost said “a movie star doing a cable show about weird shit,” but that isn’t true. Zachary Quinto is also a movie star doing a cable show about weird shit, to three times the ratings, and almost literally nobody in the media cared. The media are fascinated because a certain set of editors are hot for Megan Fox and titillated by the idea of an attractive woman doing “man” stuff like archaeology.
David Childress: Aliens Living in the Hollow Moon Created Bigfoot to Serve as Missing Link Between Humans and Apes
I had to laugh when I read Inverse magazine’s admission that in a 21-minute interview with Ancient Aliens star David Childress, Childress spoke for 21 straight minutes, barely letting the interviewer get a word in edgewise and making it impossible, as Inverse writer Jake Kleinman said, to create a “coherent” story from his verbal ramblings. Clearly, ancient mysteries are the type of pet topic that allows Childress to monologue in unbroken streams, regardless of whether his listeners are interested, and one might speculate as to the reasons for that, but I would never offer an armchair diagnosis. Instead, I think it serves as a fair warning to future interviewers to be less open-ended in questioning him. In the interview, Childress made a number of statements that lacked the usual qualifiers that the producers of Ancient Aliens routinely force their talking heads to include to provide legal and ethical fig leaves.
Today you are getting a shorter blog post since I ran out of writing time yesterday when my scheduled eye doctor appointment ran ridiculously far behind schedule, and I spent three hours there only to be told that my prescription hadn’t changed. It was my first time seeing this doctor, and I was surprised to find that he was a believer in the ancient astronaut theory and that he was delighted to learn that I was familiar with Mu and had appeared in a documentary with Erich von Däniken.
In an interview yesterday with Inverse to promote the upcoming Baltimore Alien Con, Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos … well, offered more of the same, actually. For someone who is supposedly an expert on … something … he is remarkably shallow in his interviews and rather repetitive in the potted anecdotes he parcels out. Perhaps it comes from too many years reciting prewritten lines for Ancient Aliens, or perhaps it reflects the dearth of originality behind the ancient astronaut theory. There were, however a few highlights worth mentioning.
Chapman University Finds Continued Growth in Paranormal Beliefs, Including Rising Support for Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts
Each year, Chapman University publishes its annual survey of American fears, and each year the results get worse. In the two metrics that I have monitored over the past three or four cycles, we have witnessed self-reported belief in ancient astronauts and lost Atlantis-like civilizations climb to record levels, among the highest rates of belief ever recorded. Belief in Atlantis became a majority belief last year, and it now stands at 57%, up from 55% last year. Belief in ancient astronauts rose from 35% to 41%, representing a plurality of respondents. (The remaining respondents either disbelieved or were unsure—the latter category not exactly being great for the side of science.)
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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