I could hardly let this pass without notice: In Thursday's New York Post, the paper's television critic, Linda Stasi, basically admitted that she has terrible taste in television. Stasi ran a column called "Way Out There" in which she more or less confessed to a massive crush on Ancient Aliens star Giorgio Tsoukalos (she calls him "hot"), whom she interviewed in advance of a speech he is giving along with Erich von Däniken at Manhattan's Academy of Medicine. Stasi binge-watched 20 hours of Ancient Aliens, cand after the program turned her brain to mush (she said she couldn't stop watching), she fawned over Tsoukalos in print.
Now, I'm not one to tell Rupert Murdoch how to run his business, but I suppose it's only fair that if his Fox News has partisans masquerading as journalists that his paper should have an Ancient Aliens fan-girl pretending to be a serious critic of junk TV. Nevertheless, it seems a bit ethically dodgy to have a TV critic join a TV show's brand-extension fan club and then write about the show under the mantle of critic.
There was a bit of news in the interview. Tsoukalos ridiculed archaeologists' explanations of how Puma Punku was built (detailed in Ancient Aliens Debunked) by caricaturing them as "chicken bones or some such nonsense."
Tsoukalos also revisited the Jesus controversy, taking the crowd-pleasing position that his ancient alien theory doesn't apply to his audience's favorite divinity, which even a besotted Stasi seems to recognize doesn't jive with Ancient Aliens' own claims, as her editorial insertion makes plain:
As regular readers will remember, this was the same ancient astronaut area that caused Tsoukalos' mentor, Erich von Däniken, some trouble when he wrote Chariots of the Gods. Von Däniken originally wrote that Christ was an ancient astronaut, but his editor cut it out for business reasons. After that, von Däniken adopted his editor's appeal to readers' prejudices and strenuously maintained Jesus was not an alien, and, in Miracles of the Gods, suggested he might not have even had a historical reality!
Indeed, consider this extraordinary passage in which he argues that the "ancient texts" about Jesus simply aren't credible sources:
Is this really the same man who tells us that the Book of Enoch, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and other ancient texts--all with variant versions, all known only from copies of copies--must be taken literally as evidence of aliens? How is it that Erich von Däniken can be so critical of Biblical texts but no other?
The next time you hear an ancient alien theorist tells you to take ancient texts literally, just quote back ol' von Däniken's words: they were "were understood differently by sympathetic authors and their functions transformed to suit contemporary needs." Oh, right, that's what ancient alien theorists are doing... transforming texts to suit their needs.
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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