While the release date is unknown, The History Channel is promising its new series, "Project Blue Book," will be out sometime in the winter.
For those of you living outside of the Ufological universe, according to The History Channel,
“’Project Blue Book’ is based on the true, Top Secret investigations into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and related phenomena conducted by the United States Air Force from 1952-1969. The series is inspired by the personal experiences of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a brilliant college professor recruited by the U.S. Air Force to spearhead this clandestine operation (Project Blue Book) that researched thousands of cases, over 700 of which remain unsolved to this day. Each episode will draw from the actual case files, blending UFO theories with authentic historical events from one of the most mysterious eras in United States history.”
The project is headed up by none other than Robert Zemeckis, the guy who did "Contact" and "Back to the Future," and stars Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger in "Game of Thrones") as the father of modern UFO research, J. Allen Hynek.
The show is being sold as a fictional series, but one that looks at real Blue Book cases in an attempt to bring awareness to the UFO phenomenon. While the fans of "Ancient Aliens" and other similar programming are undoubtedly excited, I think many within the deeper UFO community are perhaps a touch concerned.
So, being that I am a generous fellow and want to ensure History’s newest show doesn’t suffer the same fate Littlefinger did in "Game of Thrones," (oops, should have said “spoiler alert”) here are the three things the series must do to reach the hearts of the UFO community.
1) Take the phenomenon seriously.
Most of us in the UFO subculture have basically thrown aspects of our life away. I am officially “that guy who is into UFOs,” and it generally sucks. Sure, people still accept you. Sure, you still get invited to parties. However, every time anything UFO related pops up, everyone stops and looks at you, hoping you chime in so they can all have a good laugh behind your back. Personally, I have it easy. My wife accepts my weirdness and my kids are young, so they are convinced UFOs are just part of everyday life (#softdisclosure). My co-workers have come to accept it, or generally could care less. Life is sweet.
However, I know a few people who have lost grant money for academic projects, spouses, and their jobs for even being slightly involved in UFO discourse. Depending on your employers and your industry, it can be pretty dangerous out there. So why put up with the all the crap? The phenomenon, assuming it exists, is undoubtedly the most important scientific, philosophical, theological, social, and cultural pursuit there is. Gaining actual insight into the possibility that there exists an intelligent objective and real “Other” outside of ourselves changes everything. Such a discovery would affect all aspects of existence; humanity is no longer the sole arbiter of the decisions regarding its station on Earth, the Cosmos or reality itself.
Assuming they had the brain capacity, imagine how Neanderthals in Europe felt when Homo Sapiens rolled in. What is the word for when complete and utter fear cohabitates with relief and need? They realized they were not alone (Praise be to the gods!), and then realized they were not alone (Oh hell no!).
Once you begin to pursue this question, this reality, then your grip on daily life becomes a little more tenuous. You begin to look awry at the world around you. Some of us hold on as best we can, but I know others who have slipped away and are different people now. Poof. Gone. Regardless of your personal opinion on this, as some may chalk it up to mental health or stability, the phenomenon has an impact, and often, a very serious one.
With all that being said, let’s avoid, or at least tone down, the tropes of conspiracy, secret “men in black,” and government cover-ups. MJ-12 is so 1980’s; let’s just keep that nonsense to a very minimum. Tell real stories and try hard to keep them authentic; these things change people’s lives, and not always for the better.
2) But don’t take the phenomenon TOO seriously.
If you can laugh about it, you can talk about it. That is a fundamental truth. I’m going to assume that this series will follow an “X-Files” model. Different stories each episode, yet an over-arching plot line that will wrap up by the final episode. Classic. Awesome.
Keeping in mind what I stated above, I am friends with a lot of ‘UFO people.’ Most of them are ‘normal’ everyday folks who drive their kids to gymnastics and drink beer. A few, however, are totally wild and wacky. If there is a box to live inside, they lost that box somewhere on the side of a desert highway and walk a very strange path. Do they take themselves seriously? Hell no! They know they are a little ‘out there’ and they love it.
Nothing is funnier than a Ufologist or UFO investigator who thinks they are Fox Mulder. We all know some of these folks. They walk around in their black utility vests, armed with a pistol, and drive SUV’s full of evidence collection bags and latex gloves. They mean well, but God help them, they need to relax a bit. You would never have seen Hynek rocking a .357 ready to blow a Grey’s head off.
Trying to attract a popular audience is fine. Go ahead. Everyone loves pulp fiction. Have fun. Just try not to make the UFO community look like a bunch of fools who take themselves incredibly seriously. We laugh. A lot. Mostly at ourselves.
3) Move beyond the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Popular media is stuck on the ideology that flying saucers are piloted by aliens from other planets. The mainstream adjusts slowly, I suppose, to strange things. The vast majority of people are tourists when it comes to the UFO enigma. They try a bit of the local cuisine from time to time, dabble in a touch of this or that, and then move on to the next thing. Scratching the surface of the Ufological narrative usually leads a person just deep enough to reach the “nuts and bolts biological aliens” idea. Being tourists, they don’t go much further down, and they certainly do not begin to piece together the varied tales, stories and “evidence.” In truth, no hypothesis really works. Whatever is going on, it is well beyond anything we can imagine.
With all that being said, my dearest producers at History Channel, please recognize that your role in all this is that of the gatekeeper. The mythology you weave through the stories you ‘green light’ will dictate a lot for the UFO community. Everyone starts off exploring UFOs somewhere. “Project Blue Book” will undoubtedly bring a bit of new blood into the UFO community; please try to educate as much as you try to entertain. I know you have superiors, corporate bosses, parent corporations, CFOs, VPs of Marketing, and CEOs. You need to make a profit, I get that. You need ratings. Just avoid sanitizing the UFO for a mainstream TV audience palate. Tell an authentic and grass roots tale as best you can. Damn the man.
UFOs, as a cultural and mythological phenomenon, are incredibly complex. There are narratives on top of meta-narratives. Social and political events affect interpretations and ideological frameworks which in turn shape the phenomenon itself. It is, as Carl Jung called it, “a living myth.” To really simplify what could be pages and pages of philosophy, please, for the love of God, let the plot for your show be more complicated than aliens in jars from a crashed flying saucer in the desert. In ‘truth,’ and I use that word loosely, the UFO phenomenon is much richer, convoluted, absurd, and complicated than aliens in space ships from Zeta Reticuli. Many of my friends and peers in this field have dedicated decades to the study of UFOs. They know the whole alien thing is just one theory, and most likely, not the correct one. Don’t rehash that same old story. We’ve had it. It’s done. Gone. Let it die quietly without a bang, and hell, no whimper either.
Three simple things can go a long way. We love you, History Channel. You kids are alright. Sure, "Ancient Aliens" is pretty ridiculous at times. No UFO researcher worth their salt has ever “suggested” ancient astronauts are responsible for the Pyramids. However, you and your company have gone all-in on the UFO thing and I can respect that.
I’m sure there will be some disagreement with me on a couple things from some colleagues, most likely about my claim that "Ancient Aliens" is only ridiculous “at times,” but they are just posers. They watch it. Everyone secretly loves Tsoukalos with his crazy Swiss hair and body building expertise. I would totally buy that guy a beer. Actually, scratch that, he’s rich so he can buy me a beer.
I hope this helps, and I hope you take some of my advice. I definitely don’t speak for the whole UFO community, but as someone who kicks around Ufological circles, I have a pretty good handle on the situation. Oh, and well-done casting Gillen. That guy basically made "Game of Thrones" the best. Now that Littlefinger is dead, I could care less what happens to Westeros. Full disclosure (easy Bassett), I hope the White Walkers win…