Tonight, Syfy’s otherwise delightful series Resident Alien is scheduled to air an episode in which Harry (Alan Tudyk) attends a UFO conference and meets Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos. The series has made sometimes unpleasant use of ancient astronaut theory material in framing the backstory for its lead character’s extraterrestrial history as an alien visitor stranded on Earth. However, it is disappointing and somewhat shameful that the show would openly embrace Ancient Aliens, a series that the Southern Poverty Law Center and a number of anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians have decried for its use of racist tropes and Victorian-era arguments born of imperialist and colonialist anti-indigenous narratives.
Resident Alien’s embrace of Ancient Aliens is particularly unpleasant in the current political moment where racial insensitivity in art is being reevaluated on a national scale. Ancient Aliens officially originated as an adaptation of the work of Erich von Däniken, who appears on the show and is listed as a consulting producer. Regular readers will remember that von Däniken has made a number of claims over the years that are insensitive to Black people, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, including his claims that the “Black race” is a “failure” and his attacks on a supposed “feminist world dictate” for androgyny.
By giving Ancient Aliens’ biggest star a platform to enhance the show’s pop culture status as “fun” and silly, Resident Alien is only helping to normalize racist claims that indigenous people were not capable of developing their own cultures without outside intervention.
Resident Alien has 1.2 million live-plus-same-day viewers, according to Nielsen ratings from last week, about a third more than Ancient Aliens’ audience.
Resident Alien is produced by various divisions of NBCUniversal, including Steven Spielberg’s Amblin, for Syfy, an NBCUniversal network. Ancient Aliens is produced by Prometheus Entertainment for the History Channel, an A+E Networks outlet.
An Over-Educated Grunt
3/24/2021 11:57:58 am
I'm not sure how depicting Tsoukalos as silly is going to enhance the stature of the ancient astronaut theorist or the theory. I think you're over-estimating the level and effect of the endorsement. That's kind of like saying that because Joe Biden appeared on Parks & Rec, the show is a mouthpiece of the Biden adminstration. I wouldn't even say it legitimizes it - it's been in the mainstream now for a decade and managed to transform the onetime Hitler Channel into a channel primarily mentally associated with a spray-tanned troll doll, it doesn't exactly NEED legitimizing. It's not fringe any more. Stupid, wrong, badly constructed? Sure. Fringe? No.
VIce President Obvious
3/24/2021 03:03:39 pm
Any sitcom that features an appearance by Joe Biden can be taken as a defacto mouthpiece for the left. Unless one thinks there is an equally good likelihood of his handlers letting him appear on Tim Allen's latest series.
An Over-Educated Grunt
3/24/2021 09:30:22 pm
Reminds me, did I say "the left," or the Biden administration? After all, it's hard for a show that went off air several years ago to be the mouthpiece for the current administration.
3/24/2021 02:13:24 pm
Being as pretty much everything on Resident Alien is completely (intentionally) absurd, I'd think that many viewers would consider Ancient Aliens to be about the same.
3/26/2021 10:18:03 pm
Normally, the type of humour portrayed in the show is not "my thing". However, I have found myself laughing out loud on a number of occasions while watching.
3/28/2021 07:37:16 pm
"I would also note that Resident Alien has multiple characters who portray Native Americans, all with positive traits."
3/24/2021 03:19:51 pm
Jason, you've done the impossible. Anything the SPLC is against I'm in favor of so I'm now squarely in Ancient Aliens' corner. Minister Louis Farrakhan says exactly what Von Daniken says, that the other race is a failed experiment and actually teaches it as part of his religion, and he believes in flying saucers, once telling an audience of a Million Men on the Mall in DC how he was taken up into a flying saucer. How about those ratings? And those weren't people just turning on the TV, they had to actually travel. Fringe or Spartacus?
3/27/2021 06:11:34 am
" Anything the SPLC is against I'm in favor of". .Seriously? You're pro KKK and Stormfront?
3/27/2021 08:54:05 pm
Better to say I don't need an authority figure to tell me whom to disdain. The two groups you mentioned don't keep me awake at night. Not even in the top ten. I am however peeved about Bernie Sanders supporters trying to assassinate Congressmen. And I hate the Lincoln Project and Penn State University.
3/27/2021 06:37:32 pm
Awright! Now we will know if a sharknado destroyed the Templars & sank Atlantis!!!
3/28/2021 06:53:18 pm
Resident Alien has included Ancient Aliens sicje at least episode 2. In that episode the alien states that his people built Stonehenge while the humans were drinking instead of helping and the deputy sheriff was shown watching Ancient Aliens
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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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