I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad one that it’s been such a slow month in the world of fringe history, but it leaves me with rather little to write about from time to time. Today is one of those days when I seem to have run out of material to discuss. (But be sure to check out the recent post from Carl Feagans explaining why a claim that Atlantis had been found in Spain was really the discovery of experimental ponds dug in 2004!) I suppose I could comment on the fact that only 415,000 viewers tuned in to Monday’s Travel Channel rebroadcast of H2’s America Unearthed, or that this number is roughly on par with the rerun of Family Feud airing opposite it on GSN. But all there is to say about it is that the numbers are so small—just 0.13% of the U.S. population—that we might just as well ignore the whole debacle unless and until Travel commissions new episodes.
I am a little more concerned about History’s Project Blue Book, which every day is looking more like an awkward propaganda effort rather than an entertainment series. This week, 1.9 million people watched, and that might have been a respectable number, except that its lead-in, The Curse of Oak Island scored 3.6 million viewers against stiffer network and cable competition. Just to be clear--Oak Island has more viewers than network time slot competitors Blackish on ABC (3.4 million), The Gifted on Fox (1.8 million), and new space alien drama Roswell, New Mexico on the CW (1.2 million). Blue Book is losing nearly half of the Oak Island audience in a time slot where two major networks—Fox and the CW—don’t compete.
The numbers, however, don’t begin to tell the full story. If you’ve been on social media recently, you’ve undoubtedly seen the propagandistic advertisements that History is running to promote Blue Book. In the ads, they tease each new episode by flatly asserting that they are exposing a real-life cover-up and telling the true story that the government doesn’t want you to know. The ads are fairly blunt about presenting the series as the “truth” about UFOs, and not in the wink-and-nod way of the X-Files’s “The Truth Is Out There” slogan.
What makes this worse is that everyone involved in the production is blunt about admitting that the series is designed first as propaganda, not as entertainment. In a Reddit ask-me-anything discussion this week, Blue Book creator David O’Leary discussed his own longstanding belief that the UFO phenomenon has an unearthly origin, and he described the heavily fictionalized Blue Book series as “educational”:
We are trying to educate and entertain people to the reality that UFOs exist and that the government has studied them and continues to study them to this day. A hope of mine with a show like ours is that it spurs the government to be more transparent with this issue. […] Nothing I've written prior to this meant as much to me as this project did, I think not only because it's about a passionate issue of mine (UFOs), in a time-period I love (the 1950s), but also because it tells this remarkable true historical story and is helping move the needle forward on this important real-life issue. The fact that we were recently featured on the cover of the Arts Section of the New York Times in an article about the reality of UFOs and our government's interest in them, blew my mind.
O’Leary’s strident beliefs and his show’s didactic and somewhat turgid tone reminded me of Christian entertainment. Have you ever tried watching a Christian movie? They are, to a number, bad. I reviewed one a couple of years ago when I got duped into watching a screener. The problem is that they have a polemical purpose first and try to hang a story around an expression of faith. Working backward from evangelical message to drama inevitably saps the story of creativity and energy. Blue Book is the New Age mirror of a Christian movie, but with a bigger budget and slightly better talent and production values.
Incidentally, A+E Networks, the parent of the History channel, also recently trademarked the name Project Blue Book for a video game should the series prove successful.
1/25/2019 09:04:16 am
"I am a little more concerned about History’s Project Blue Book, which every day is looking more like an awkward propaganda effort rather than an entertainment series."
1/25/2019 10:33:06 am
Literally the definition of propaganda: "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view."
1/25/2019 11:25:31 am
No. Their true goal is simply to make money.
1/25/2019 11:31:25 am
American Cool "Disco" Dan
1/25/2019 12:03:22 pm
"The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Latin: Congregatio pro Gentium Evangelizatione) in Rome is the congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for missionary work and related activities. It is perhaps better known by its former title, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Latin: Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide), or simply the Propaganda Fide."
1/25/2019 12:05:26 pm
Propaganda doesn't have to be dark, or political, or run by the government. It is simply the use of biased or misleading information, typically across multiple media, to alter or change public perceptions. That's literally what they are doing here by stating that their purpose is to change public attitudes about UFOs. Now, if you want to argue that they are liars, then you are welcome to believe that everything coming out of their mouths is a lie.
1/26/2019 09:46:50 am
"That's literally what they are doing here by stating that their purpose is to change public attitudes about UFOs."
Atomic Cool "Disco" Dan
1/26/2019 01:51:16 pm
Like people who found, run or serve on the Board of non-profits they hit the "let's get people to pay us to achieve our own propaganda ends" jackpot. Tom DeLonge is the extreme example but he's upfront about it. The ONLY thing TTSA is required to do is pay him money. It's brilliant really.
1/26/2019 06:28:49 pm
I have a soft spot for folks makin' money. It's the ones that believe in what they're doing... no matter what their vocation... they're the ones to watch out for.
An Anonymous Nerd
1/27/2019 06:35:07 pm
[Propaganda doesn't have to be dark, or political, or run by the government. It is simply the use of biased or misleading information, typically across multiple media, to alter or change public perceptions. That's literally what they are doing here by stating that their purpose is to change public attitudes about UFOs. Now, if you want to argue that they are liars, then you are welcome to believe that everything coming out of their mouths is a lie.]
Agnostic Cool "Disco" Dan``
1/28/2019 12:06:38 am
They're for the most part not ADDING new "inaccurate information", they're recycling old inaccurate information.
1/25/2019 11:37:45 am
Did you see this?
1/25/2019 12:06:17 pm
I covered that back in July when George Knapp obtained and published the same documents.
1/25/2019 01:19:54 pm
Interesting that Project Blue Book loses so much of the lead-in audience provided by Oak Island. Still, a new show that could gain and keep an audience one-half the size of Oak Island may count as a notable programming success for History Channel. Especially with the revenues from a Project Blue Book video game!
1/25/2019 02:18:13 pm
I am enjoying “Project Blue Book” much like I enjoyed “X-files” or “Star Trek.” Pure fiction, pure “Once upon a time...”
American Cool "Disco" Dan
1/25/2019 02:25:26 pm
I'm enjoying the new Roswell series. It gives me a lot to work with, know what I mean?
1/25/2019 03:25:29 pm
No one under the age of 40 understands “The Waltons” reference.
American Cool "Disco" dan
1/25/2019 04:11:00 pm
Do I strike you as someone who cares? You'd probably say the same about Tanmaster George Hamilton, but he had a story arc on current show American Housewife (check your local listings).
1/25/2019 04:27:25 pm
Wasn't the same after Will Geer died. And uh... Mary Ellen in Playboy? Yikes...
1/25/2019 09:19:22 pm
Project Blue Book = The X-Files for people who don't appreciate good acting.
1/25/2019 10:30:04 pm
"but it leaves me with rather little to write about from time to time." Start an occasional series about real but obscure history. I am sure you have plenty of research that hasn't been fully used in your entries. Jump down a rabbit hole once in a while during a slow fringe news cycle.
1/26/2019 06:02:37 pm
Perhaps Project Blue Book could spice up its ratings by doing a cross-over with Game of Thrones. Little Finger has been transported from his dimension into the US by aliens. He investigates UFOs by day to try to find a way to return to Westeros and by night he operates a high end escort service.
An Anonymous Nerd
1/27/2019 06:37:48 pm
As I recall that character on Game of Thrones is dead. (Sorry, spoiler alert.) Such a crossover therefore would have the added benefit that "Project Blue Book" would be over before it had begun.
1/28/2019 01:13:35 pm
But is he really dead? Or will he return from another dimension with some friends and introduce the Whitewalkers to napalm?
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