For a show that almost literally no one watched—averaging only around 500,000 viewers across its four-episode run, fewer than syndicated reruns of off-network sitcoms—Megan Fox’s Legends of the Lost has inspired a lot of discussion and upset online, particularly around the question of Viking women warriors. Frankly, I find this to be the least interesting “mystery” on Fox’s show, but it raises a fascinating question about archaeological vs. historical knowledge and how an idea does or does not become a consensus concept in the creation of our story of the past.
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.
Acting Attorney General's Bigfoot and Time Travel Claims; Plus: Kentucky's Governor Blames Zombie TV for Mass Shootings
Despite the fact that the History Channel and I don’t have the best of relationships, it seems that their publishing partners at the Atlantic Monthly Press didn’t get the message. The publisher just sent me an advance copy of the History-branded The Curse of Oak Island tie-in book by journalist Randall Sullivan, due out just in time for Christmas. I only received the book Tuesday night, so I haven’t had time to read much, but I have to say that the introduction and opening chapter left me baffled. I suppose this must be a book for super-fans of Curse, since my general but not particularly deep knowledge of the “mystery” of Oak Island was not enough to make sense of the barrage of names and dates, or the convoluted history thrust upon me with little authorial guidance.
Sometime between the when I reviewed Natural Selection nearly three years ago and Super Dark Times almost a year ago, the public relations teams representing a certain kind of independent film seem to have gotten it into their heads that I am the right person to review movies about the friendships of teenage boys. I’m not sure how I got pegged into that niche, but I receive an outsize number of screeners for a remarkably similar parade of films exploring the challenges of growing up young, white, and privileged in a world where guns are easy to come by but authenticity and genuine social connections are not. To be honest, the movies are so similar that I have a hard time remembering which act of violence occurred in which one. Was Sins of Our Youth the one where best friends are torn asunder and end up bathed in blood? Trick question. It was all of them.
Six months ago, I reviewed science writer Andrew Lawler’s new book on the lost colony of Roanoke, The Secret Token, and I expressed some concerns about the content of the book. Lawler, who is fresh from a book tour promoting the volume, read the review, and wanted a chance to respond. Today, I present Andrew Lawler’s response to my review. After his comments I will add a few thoughts.
The Sky Is Falling: How Vampires, Zombies, Androids, and Superheroes Made America Great for Extremism
Peter Biskind | 256 pages | New Press | Sept. 11, 2018 | ISBN 9781620974292 | $26.99
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, commissioned a study to better target the kinds of voters Trump would need to reach to win the election. According to an interview Kushner later gave to Forbes magazine, he learned that Trump voters were most likely to be fans of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead, a show about rugged individualists struggling to beat back hordes of rampaging zombies that constantly breach their border walls after the total collapse of the federal government. Consequently, the Trump team bought air time during the broadcast. It was neither the first nor the last time that The Walking Dead—a rural-themed show with the formal structure of midcentury cowboys-and-Indians movie—has been viewed as a conservative drama. As I wrote in my Knowing Fear a decade ago, horror is almost by definition structurally conservative since it revolves around breaches of the status quo.
I am taking a couple of days off this week. Please enjoy a classic blog post (lightly edited to bring it up to date) marking fifteen years since I started writing regularly about ancient mysteries. I had launched a website in 2001 but only turned my attention to regular coverage of ancient mysteries in 2003, when I began work on my first book. The post originally ran in August 2013 to commemorate my tenth anniversary regularly covering fringe history.
I wanted to take a moment today to talk about In Search Of. Regular readers will have read my review of the show and know that I wasn’t too taken with the rebooted series’ approach to mysteries, or host Zachary Quinto’s off-brand Leonard Nimoy impression in a program that reinvents the old documentary series as a personality-focused reality show. But I was surprised to see that audiences seem to agree. Despite the massive promotion the History Channel gave the series, and a comfortable berth with an Ancient Aliens lead-in, the show seems to be performing modestly.
The New York Times Runs Major Feature on "Ancient Aliens," Casts Ancient Astronaut Theorists as Friendly, Lovable Rogues Searching for God
The New York Times ran a major feature online on Saturday which will appear in print in the July 22 Sunday print edition covering Alien Con and the Ancient Aliens television show. While the article by Steven Kurutz pays lip service to the problems with the ancient astronaut theory, the overall thrust of the article is a celebration of the community that has formed around the Ancient Aliens television show. This was especially disappointing to me because Kurutz interviewed me at length several weeks ago for the piece, and he had told me that he planned to use my interview in the article to discuss the dark side of the ancient astronaut theory, including its ties to racist ideas and white nationalism, as well as the racist, anti-Semitic, and paranoid statements made by the show’s talking heads, including Erich von Däniken (who called Blacks a “failed” experiment), David Wilcock (who blamed the Jews for trying to kill him), and the late Jim Marrs (who alleged that the Jews and Obama were working together to destroy America).
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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