In defiance of orders from the governor of California and the mayor of Los Angeles, Burns claimed that Ancient Aliens was a “news” program and therefore exempt from shelter-in-place and work-from-home requirements. On Friday, Prometheus had UnXplained host William Shatner release a homemade video, looking for all the world like a hostage tape, declaring that History’s fake history shows would continue to “be there for you” during the crisis, but undercutting Burns’s claims by identifying the shows as “entertainment” rather than news.
Shortly before Ancient Aliens went to air, Giorgio Tsoukalos released his own video recorded in front of a poster tacked to a door in which he promised to keep the polluted stream of fake history flowing during the pandemic:
Given Burns’s reprehensible behavior and callous disregard for science and safety, I don’t feel it is appropriate to give Ancient Aliens the same detailed attention that I have traditionally given its episodes, or to help the show promote its vile drivel masquerading as science. This is, after all, a show that last year claimed pandemics were created by aliens to control the human population. It offers dangerous misinformation and does not deserve to be classified as news, or even as nonfiction, or to take priority over health and safety in a time of crisis.
My reviews of Ancient Aliens are my most-read blog posts, attracting five times the readership of an average post. It’s the devil’s bargain any review makes: publicize a piece of media in exchange for using that media to create the content that brings in audiences. However, the Hollywood Reporter story is enough for me not to want to continue to make that bargain. “What I can’t stand,” one staffer told THR, “is that there’s someone who has a lack of regard for employees to put them in harm’s way.” So, for this week, I will offer only a truncated list of key points from the show so they are available for the record. I will not offer the lengthy discussion and analysis I typically provide. They do not deserve the publicity.
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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