This week, my 70-something aunt said that she and my uncle weren’t concerned about coronavirus or the precautions in place to prevent its spread because she believes it is a Democratic Party hoax to take down Donald Trump after impeachment failed. She thinks the whole world is conspiring to fake the disease to hurt Trump. My father told me that a friend of his said his ex-wife has the same belief. As my aunt and uncle aged, they moved steadily to the right, going from blue collar Democrats who proudly framed photos of themselves with Clintons in the 1990s to staunch Republicans after 9/11 and becoming die-hard Trump supporters in 2016 thanks to a combination of nationalism, xenophobia, and cultural anxieties. So that’s where we are as a country. Regular Fox News consumers have developed bizarre ideas about what the network had called the “Virus Impeachment Scam” until late last week, and now there’s no good way to undo it.
As coronavirus continues to shut down much of global life, there isn’t a lot of news from the world of fake history, space aliens, and other imaginary things. The real virus commands much more attention than fictitious threats. So, today I am going to devote some of my time to making progress on revising the chapters for my upcoming book on pyramid legends. I’m not sure what will happen when the deadline hits since the publisher currently has its offices closed and the staff are working remotely, though not consistently. In the meantime, here are the latest ratings figures for Rob Riggle: Global Investigator and Ancient Aliens in a week when people are stuck inside and watching more TV.
As you might imagine, the global standstill created by the coronavirus pandemic has also slowed down the purveyors of pseudohistory, who have fewer conferences to share their new claims and whose TV series are beginning to see production delays. So, today I thought I’d take the time spent socially distancing from everyone to discuss my new favorite category of TV series to watch on Netflix, Spanish dramas—the ones from Spain, not just in Spanish. I burned my way through their Brazilian shows, which were generally quite good, and most of the French ones, too. I didn’t really get into the formless Dutch blob of a supposed thriller Ares, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the exceptional quality of Spanish dramas. Once you adjust to the Spanish style of somewhat mannered and overdramatic acting, it becomes quite interesting to see how Spanish TV producers remix and play around with templates and forms pioneered on American TV and add an extra layer or two. They also seem to move much faster, which is, like British series, a function of generally shorter seasons.
As much as I don’t want to waste more time on this, the state of the comments section on my blog has degenerated to the point that changes have to be made. For the first ten years I ran this blog, I kept comments open to anyone, for close to real-time conversations. However, the toxic, combative nature of the comments on nearly every blog post have driven away dozens of people who used to make substantive, thoughtful comments. I have tried culling toxic comments, but the flood of them comes faster than I can handle them, given that this is not my actual day job and I can’t spend hours each day reading aggressive, inane, or abusive posts. I have tried IP blocking, but many posters simply generate a new IP address and continue on, while Weebly, which provides my blogging software, has restricted my access to IP addresses in their latest redesign.
Note: An earlier version of this post noted Brandon Fugal's connection to a Utah-based Ancient History Research Foundation, which listed him as its director on its website. The AHRF, which explored giants, hyper-diffusionism, and other fringe topics, was also affiliated with Wayne May, the patron of infamous figure Frank Joseph, and house Joseph's writings. These references have been removed because Fugal informed me that his affiliation with the foundation ended in 2005, he was not part of the organization when it began housing May's and Joseph's work, and he is not actively investingating anomalous archaeology. I regret the error.
This week, MJ Banias revealed the name of the new owner of Skinwalker Ranch, real estate investor Brandon Fugal, who came out of the shadows four years after purchasing the paranormal property from billionaire Robert Bigelow, just in time to promote his ranch’s new History channel series. But, as always, there is more to the story than meets the eye—and it is weirder than you might imagine.
It was not a good week for ancient mysteries on TV. Ancient Aliens suffered a massive tumble in the ratings, losing around 20% of its viewers as its total viewership fell to just 881,000 for Saturday’s episode, ranking at the seventy-fifth most watched show that day. By contrast William Shatner’s The UnXplained, airing an hour later, cracked the top fifty with 946,000 viewers. Once again, a greater number of viewers under 49 tuned in to Shatner, giving his show the edge. Neither, of course, could hold a candle to Food Network’s 11 AM showing of The Kitchen, which trounced both in total viewers and in the demographic.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.