Before we begin today, I would be remiss if I did not mark today as the anniversary of Kenneth Arnold’s famous sighting of unidentified flying objects, later wrongly identified as flying saucers, seventy years ago. In honor of this important anniversary, I will direct you to my page on the U.S. government’s investigation into the origins of the flying saucer myth, which outline how Arnold’s sighting became fodder for Raymond Palmer, editor of Amazing Stories, a man who was responsible for turning a minor flap into the foundation for legend of flying saucers, mostly as grist for his ongoing promotion of the Shaver Mystery.
It seems that our friends at Ancient Aliens are taking a bit of break after two months of new episodes. Last night, the History Channel provided us with a three-hour (!) edition of ancient Aliens Declassified in which we were treated to an edited selection of previously aired segments about Nazis and space aliens. I may have the patience of a saint, but even I have no intention of sitting through three-hour rerun remixes. They’re doing another one next week.
More interesting to me today is the transformation going on over at Destination America, a cable network launched five years ago on the ruins of Planet Green, the defunct liberal environmentalist channel. At the time, the network was designed explicitly to appeal to rural white conservatives, and it originally launched with a slate of programming aimed at confirming stereotypes about the “heartland,” including shows about hunting and meat. It wasn’t that long ago (2015) that I reported on the network’s growing reliance on rural-themed supernatural reality shows to attract an audience after the failure of their initial strategy and how they had launched a new graphic design system centered on space aliens, ghosts, and midcentury Americana to symbolize their split between the paranormal and the patriotic.
I’m not sure how happy I should be to announce that the network has finally abandoned Americana altogether and has launched a revised on-air identity centered entirely on the supernatural.
Destination American has dropped its red, white, and blue color palette in favor of a white, black, and gray one that is explicitly meant to tie in to their paranormal programming. According to the network’s graphic design team at METAphrenie of Los Angeles and Dubai, writing on their Vimeo page,
With its programming now focused on the supernatural and paranormal, the network wanted to align its on-air look with its new direction. We joined forces with DA’s creative team to create a comprehensive on-air identity that reflects the network’s philosophy. Taking inspiration from the unexplained events showcased in DA’s programming, we created The Glitch and The Glow: two design concepts illustrative of irregularities and the supernatural.
Destination America now calls itself “TV’s paranormal network that explores the unknown.”
The same graphic design company is responsible for the on-air identity of the History Channel’s Knights Templar drama Knightfall.
Consider the rot at the heart of Discovery Communications, the company that owns Destination America. It was only a couple of years ago that the head of Discovery apologized for the fake documentaries on mermaids and dead sharks that ran on Animal Planet and its flagship Discovery channel. At the time, the company disingenuously promised a return to science-based programming, but even then they were already dividing the channels they operated into fact-based channels (Science Channel, Discovery Channel, AHC) and paranormal and reality show channels (Animal Planet, Destination America, etc.). But now even that cynical division is gone. The Science Channel is flooded with UFO and “unexplained phenomenon” documentaries. AHC, a network on which I once appeared back when it was the skeptical alternative to Destination America, now devotes a significant percentage of its on-air hours to conspiracy theories and “ancient mysteries.” It’s garbage all the way down.
At least Destination America has the honesty to admit that it’s a channel now built entirely on selling supernatural reality shows to gullible viewers.
Consider this: The American Heroes Channel celebrates ignorant fringe historian as heroes. Destination America tells us that the U.S. is full of ghosts and monsters. The Science Channel speculates on mysticism and cosmic mythology. Animal Planet looks for fake animals. The Discovery Channel is about confirming preexisting beliefs. Pretty much every network is now the opposite of its own name. Newspeak words have no meaning. Up is down and the clock strikes thirteen.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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