It’s only fitting to begin today with a brief notice of the death of H2, the History Channel spinoff that gave the world America Unearthed and made Scott Wolter into a fringe history star. The unpopular and little-watched network ceased broadcasting last night as it turned into the new Viceland channel, trading aliens and conspiracies for marijuana and Millennials. H2 went out the way it came in three years a few months ago, with a day-long marathon of Ancient Aliens reruns. Its most lasting legacy is probably America Unearthed, the show that gave aid and comfort to white nationalist interpretations of history and prompted racists across the country to champion the program as evidence for various conspiracy theories involving pre-Columbian white colonization of the Americas, and a U.S. government conspiracy to allegedly rewrite history in favor of ethnic and racial minorities. Good riddance, H2. You will not be missed.
Viceland is a joint project of A+E Networks, the owner of H2, and Vice Media, itself co-owned by A+E Networks. Vice had a somewhat interesting article on its online platform Motherboard a couple of days ago, and it reflects quite a bit of what we discuss here on this blog. In the piece, Michael Molitch-Hou, a freelance writer, argues that the recent X-Files revival is unsatisfactory because it has veered close to becoming rightwing propaganda thanks to the infiltration of conspiracy theories into rightwing media dialogue: “the quirky and mysterious plot lines of The X-Files are no longer representative of niche tin foil hat wearers. They are representative of a dangerously misinformed segment of the US citizenry that frequently overlaps with climate change deniers, 911 (sic) truthers, and birthers.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because that is exactly what I said in my review of the season premiere seven weeks ago (and even earlier), and I’m hardly the first or only writer to have noticed the close connection between the X-Files, political paranoia, and rightwing politics. All the same, it’s nice that a popular media outlet is catching on and catching up.
The challenge of separating fact from fiction leads us to my final topic for today, a new article by “medical intuitive” Rita Louise, who thinks that there is an underground race of monsters occupying subterranean bases. In her article, Louise is a little more subtle than many ancient astronaut theorists. Instead of simply making things up or taking stories at face value, she argues that mythology and history describe the same events, and she twists unlike things to make a prima facie coherent account of underground Reptilian bases. In so doing, Louise demonstrates that she knows enough about ancient texts to quote them correctly but strips out the context to help their square pegs to fit into the round hole of modern conspiracy culture.
To do so, Louise purposely and purposefully conflates various mythological underworlds with the Hollow Earth theory, legends of underground caves and tunnels, and modern conspiracies about underground alien and/or Nazi bases. This allows her to use any of the denizens of hell, and any modern treasure myths in support of her “underground bases.” But in so doing, she doesn’t confine herself to even that much truth. In arguing, for example, that the occupants of her bases used genetic engineering to create Earth life, she cites the bizarre creatures described by Berossus as having been present at the creation, birthed from Tiamat, the chaos monster. While she quotes correctly (from I. P. Cory’s uncredited plagiarism of Jacob Bryant), she neglects to note that nothing in the text suggests they were genetically engineered. According to Berossus, these creatures lived in the primeval waters before the formation of the Earth, and long before humans or familiar animals.
Louise sees these Reptilians as villains straight out of the X-Files: “The Reptilians are also accused of wanting to reduce the population on the earth and are employing weapons such as chemtrails, GMO’s, vaccinations and man-made viruses to reduce our numbers.” By no coincidence, these accusations exactly parallel the evil alien-government conspiracy’s depopulation by chemtrail and vaccine in the season finale of the X-Files revival, a second episode, like the first of the season, named for Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Citing the Atra-hasis Epic, Louise argues that the alien-gods have depopulated the Earth in the past and will be doing so again shortly.
While Louise concedes that modern conspiracy theorists may have taken influence from ancient stories in designing their conspiracies (to which I’d add: and science fiction), her conclusion is shockingly illogical: “Bringing this idea full circle; if the stories being unearthed in the UFO community were not based on mythological sources, yet mythology supports these claims, then the stories of our distant past may have a basis in fact.” I trust that you see that the logic fails even the most basic tests of reason: If, for example, both mythology and UFO conspiracies are false, then there is no “basis in fact” to search out, even if one lie supports the other.
Speaking of mutual support: Regular readers will recall that Louise, who makes her money offering psychic healing consultations and selling “lessons” on becoming an energy healer, has also used her radio show to promote Scott Wolter, of the late H2 channel. Everything is connected after all!
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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