The Nielsen ratings held mixed news for Ancient Aliens in its second Saturday broadcast. The show’s viewership remained steady at 1.046 million, but the composition of the show’s audience is changing. Steep declines in the number of younger viewers have pushed it out of the top 50 broadcasts in the advertiser-favored 18-49 demographic for the day it airs. When the show aired on Fridays, it typically cracked the top 10 and to the best of my knowledge was always in the top 20.
Perhaps more than any year in recent memory, 2019 was the year in which fringe history stopped being fringe and went completely mainstream. This year, we saw pseudohistory and conspiracy theories top the literary bestseller lists, multiply across cable channels like mushrooms on a rotten log, and attract record crowds to traveling carnivals masquerading as pseudohistory “fan” conventions. It perfectly captures the tenor of the times for the post-truth era that the very notions of fact and fiction ceased to have meaning. This was a long, hard year, both for the world and also for me personally. After dealing with family health problems, buying and selling a house (and still not being able to close on selling the old one until early 2020, nearly half a year after the sale), writing two books, and a knot of lawyers for many different developments, I am ready for this unpleasant year to end. Let’s look back in anger:
Because Ancient Aliens is on later today, I am only going to make a brief post this morning. I wanted to say something about the attack on Donald Trump’s statement at his news conference this week with the president of Italy. In introducing the Italian president, Trump said that “the United States and Italy are bound together by a shared cultural and political heritage dating back dating back thousands of years to ancient Rome.” Liberal pundits attacked Trump’s statements—which were prepared remarks, not extemporaneous—because they believed Trump had claimed that the United States, founded in 1776, had had a relationship with Italy, founding in 1861, since the founding of Rome. Trump does enough bad stuff that we don’t need to make up things he didn’t say. Italy and the United States do indeed both draw on the Classical heritage of Rome, as every schoolchild was taught down to modern times. The U.S. government draws on Roman models, and Italy’s connection to Rome should be obvious. Trump was referring to the Roman influence on Western civilization, not a fictitious U.S.-Roman alliance. It’s fairly obvious. That he then went on to praise Columbus Day and reject efforts to rename it Indigenous People’s Day is another issue. That seems entirely in keeping with his frequent and unthinking repetition of whatever angry thing he heard on cable TV.
Proofreading and indexing is slow-going work, and I’m finding it challenging to fit enough of it into my workday to meet the deadline after the publisher delivered the page proofs late, cutting the indexing time way down. As a result, I am not going to be doing much blogging until the indexing and proofreading are done. The good news, for what it’s worth, is that indexing goes faster the deeper into a book I go because most of the index terms will have already been entered into the list, so by the time I am halfway through, it will mostly be autopilot.
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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