Fans of Ancient Aliens probably remember Nick Pope, the UFO enthusiast who used to run the British Ministry of Defence’s UFO reporting program. Pope has expanded beyond capitalizing on his government title to write fiction and now to work on video games. Beyond this, Pope is also proud of the fact that he will sell his opinion on UFOs to corporate sponsors for cash. He has opined about UFOs in order to generate buzz for 7-11’s “Check into Space” campaign, Doritos, Battle Los Angeles, Fringe, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and an incredible list of other people who pay him to promote UFOs for cash.
Since he makes so much money off promoting UFOs as a legitimate subject and from conflating fact and fiction by providing “real life” stories to drum up interest in movies and TV shows, it is not without interest that we read his interview yesterday in Venture Beat’s “Games Beat” section. Pope was asked specifically whether fiction has an impact on whether people come to believe in alien visitations. Take a look at what Pope said in response:
Science fiction and the whole idea of aliens, in movies and computer games, is so embedded now in the public consciousness that it’s difficult to separate the fact and the fiction. Some people think that Hollywood movies and computer games are one of the ways in which governments slowly acclimatize people to this. There used to be this old theory that you couldn’t say this was real, because there would be panic in the streets. But what if you slipped it out generally, slowly, over the years, in all these movies, so that people were so used to the idea?
Now, shouldn’t Nick Pope actually know this one way of the other since he was allegedly privy to all this information in the past and is currently working with the Hollywood studios and game companies? And since he wants to place it in the hypothetical, it sounds very much like he’s purposely hedging to keep the gravy train a-rolling.
More interesting to me is the way that both Pope and interviewer Sebastian Haley place alien contact in the context of moral questions, and tacitly conflate the West with the world, as though aliens wouldn’t affect non-Western peoples. Pope describes hoping that any visiting aliens are friendly lest they destroy us all.
GamesBeat: We can hope that it doesn’t come back on us, all the terrible things that we’ve done to other civilizations.
I don’t think much commentary is necessary to understand the underlying material here. This isn’t about aliens very much at all; it’s about “us” as a people and as individuals symbolically negotiating power relationships and dynamics within and between societies.
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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