I need to spend today working on writing my new book on pyramid myths before I review Ancient Aliens tonight, so I am going to leave you with this recent YouTube video claiming that Göbekli Tepe and other ancient sites were connected through an “infrasound” network that somehow transcended not just barriers of distance but also of time, communicating between cultures that didn’t even exist at the same time as one another. Many of the claims are warmed over from Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis and Edgar Cayce’s version of Atlantis, but you can see more than a little of the “energy network” claims from Ancient Aliens, particularly when the narrator alleges that the ancient stones received messages from other dimensions or other planets.
Last Friday, Ancient Aliens course-corrected a bit by backing away from the sci-fi nonsense and returning to a more traditional examination of an exotic location for evidence of prehistoric visitation. They were rewarded by a slight uptick in ratings, rising to 966,000 viewers—up nearly 100,000 from the previous week, but still far below its season and series averages. As far as ratings go, it’s no My Lottery Dream House, which has outdrawn it each week. William Shatner’s The UnXplained continued its series-long run of building on Ancient Aliens’ total number of viewers 18-54, but for the first time its total audience was smaller than that of Ancient Aliens—by 1,000 viewers.
Today I am going to break format, as I did a year ago, to discuss the new season of the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why. Regular readers will recall that my first real job after college was reviewing the teen soap The O.C. for a now-defunct online publication (for which show producers gave me a backhanded compliment in its fourth season), and I have retained an affection for the genre that has long outlasted my own young adult years. I hadn’t intended to talk about 13 Reasons Why again, having said all I thought I needed to say last year, but the current season has left me somewhat dumbfounded, almost to the point of regretting that I had defended the controversial show in its unnecessary but intermittently compelling second season. Its third season undoes almost everything that second did right while doubling down on all that it did wrong in ways that made me uncomfortable, both as a viewer and for the actors who had to tell this deeply wrongheaded story.
This week Code of the Wild aired an episode in which its fraternal hosts searched for a “lost race of giants” in the rainforests of South America. The episode was the series’ highest-rated, and its viewership spiked by almost 100,000 viewers—nearly 25%--to 533,000 live plus same day viewers, according to Nielsen figures. Part of this might be attributed to viewers discovering the show, but the steady ratings for the Expedition Unknown rerun that precedes each episode suggests that this isn’t really the case. While the total viewership is small, it is symptomatic of a disturbing trend: Episodes of fringe cable shows focusing on extreme claims, particularly with biblical or Eurocentric implications, score significantly more viewers than more mainstream mysteries.
Every few months we get a story about how “scientists” have discovered some location associated with a famous myth. This time, the story revolves around a cave where Circe housed Odysseus in the Odyssey. As with most efforts to find the “true” location of Greek mythic tales, this supposed discovery involves a lot of special pleading and a naïve approach to understanding the formation of ancient Greece’s most important poems.
"The Atlantic" Repeats Afrocentrist Claim about Pre-Columbian Africans in the Americas; Plus: "Epoch Times" Under Fire for Trump Links
This past week, conservatives across the country rose up to take on the most pressing issue of the day, the New York Times’ ongoing series reporting on the continuing legacy of slavery on modern American life to mark the 400th anniversary of slavery in the lands that eventually became the United States. Conservative leaders claimed that the paper was doing a disservice to America by sowing division through a discussion of historical facts and making America look bad by explaining the compromises and corruptions that slavery created at the heart of the American social, economic, and political systems. In the Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi of American University wrote in support of the Times’ project, but in doing so, he offered his own ahistorical claim.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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