Some weeks ago the Twitter accounts who devote a lot of their time showing their support for Tom DeLonge and To the Stars –the same ones I mentioned in one of my latest articles— began buzzing with rumors that ‘something big’ from TTSA was coming in the month of March. “Oh boy, what could it be?” the sycophants wondered: a new video showing an encounter between a UFO and a USAF pilot, like the ‘Tic-Tac’ and ‘Go-Fast’? Perhaps another high-profile politician, like former Senator and Majority leader Harry Reid going on the record and admitting that the US government is still very interested in the UFO phenomenon, despite decades of publicly downplaying or even mocking its continuing appearances? Maybe even an update on that secretive project A.D.A.M. which seeks to study –and perhaps even replicate– alleged UFO debris!
Nope, the ‘big news’ turned out to be… a new TV series.
From TTSA’s official press release:
[…] Previously run by Elizondo, AATIP was created to research and investigate Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) including numerous videos of reported encounters, three of which were released to a shocked public in 2017. Elizondo resigned after expressing to the government that these UAPs could pose a major threat to our national security and not enough was being done to combat them or address our potential vulnerabilities. Now, as a part of HISTORY’s groundbreaking new six-part, one-hour limited series “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation™,” Elizondo is speaking out for the first time with Tom DeLonge, co-founder and President of To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science and Chris Mellon, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Intelligence, to expose a series of startling encounters and embark on fascinating new investigations that will urge the public to ask questions and look for answers. From A+E Originals, DeLonge serves as executive producer.
Says DeLonge, “With this show, the real conversation can finally begin. I’m thankful to HISTORY for giving the To The Stars Academy team of world-class scientists, engineers and intelligence experts the opportunity to tell the story in a comprehensive and compelling way. I think everyone that watches the show will walk away with questions answered and a feeling of, “wow, I get it now.”’
“HISTORY is committed to creating informational, authentic programming that keeps our audience intrigued to learn more,” said Eli Lehrer, Executive Vice President and Head of Programming, HISTORY. “This is not a UFO hunting show, but a series that will hopefully provoke a cultural conversation about unexplained phenomena and allow our viewers to ultimately draw their own conclusions. Tom’s curiosity and passion for this subject matter, combined with his team, are the perfect partners to deliver this breakthrough series.”
At the risk of sounding like the grouchy man in the village (I’m 45, so I’m probably ancient in the eyes of most newcomers) but… is this is what gets the UFO community all hyped up and yipee-kiyaying on the streets nowadays –yet another UFO-based TV show? If so, it just goes to show that the field is so deprived of actual meaningful information, even the simplest crumbs we get thrown down our way are praised as a royal feast. We lick our fingers and keep searching for more, without considering for a minute why it is that our ‘benefactors’ get to keep all of the cookie jar for themselves?
…And, might we be actually being led into a trap?
We have already had over 10 years of ‘UFO hunting’ reality TV shows with varied levels of quality, and 13 seasons of Ancient Aliens. An objective appraisal would conclude all these hours of TV entertainment have not only not improved the UFO discussion, but they have in fact hindered it by indulging in too much over-sensationalism; in Ancient Aliens, for example, the depictions of Egyptian gods are exploited to speculate on whether aliens were conducting monstrous genetic experiments in order to create hybrids between humans and animals –talk about jumping the Chariots of the Gods’ shark!
So, could a TTSA-produced TV show help improve the UFO discussion?
On a best case scenario, it will rehash all the information we’ve already collected from December 2017 (’12-17′ in the parlance of the TTSA fanboys, since they give the date a great deal of significance) to this day in a neat, condensed and ready-for-mass-consumption package, showing Elizondo, DeLonge and Mellon retelling what we’ve already heard before. The series might also show Senator Reid talk about the creation of AATIP, Hal Puthoff speculating about the exotic physics needed to travel through time-space or other dimensions, and Commander Fravor recalling his encounter with the Tic-Tac UFO in 2004. Elizondo, speaking at the Anomalous Aerospace Phenomena Conference (AAPC) hosted by the Scientific Coalition of UFOlogy (SCU) has already disclosed –pun intended– that the series will also cover “other Military AATIP UFO cases, with witnesses, some which are better than the extraordinary UFO encounter.”
Will the series also cover some of the fringier aspects of the AATIP program, such as its involvement with Bigelow’s Skinwalker ranch? Doubtful, since the series is clearly intended to improve the veneer of credibility of the UFO phenomenon for the American public, who have been conditioned to only regard it as low-brow entertainment fodder, and the high-strangeness surrounding the more controversial UFO cases seems to be specifically designed to ‘self-negate’ itself –an idea first proposed by Jacques Vallee in his seminal books Passport to Magonia and The Invisible College.
On a worst case scenario, a TTSA series might be utilized as a tool to manipulate public opinion so it aligns with some hidden agenda. An agenda that might seek to sell UFOs to the American public as a technological ‘threat’ which should be urgently studied –and even harnessed if possible– lest the Chinese and the Russians beat them to it. An attendee at the AAPC, Deep Prasad (CEO of ReactiveQ, a Canadian quantum computer/new materials start-up that lists the University of Toronto as a partner on its website) has also revealed on social media that analysis and results of the so-called ‘meta-materials’ in possession of TTSA will too be presented in the six-part docu-series. Is that how scientific enquiry of alleged alien artifacts is to be conducted, then? To bypass peer-reviewed papers and just dump the results on a TV show, the same way GAIA tried to do with the controversial Nazca mummies? We already know how serious Peruvian archeologists reacted to that.
To the readers of this article who might think I’m being paranoid or exaggerating, I remind you that there’s no better way to make sense of the present than to remember what happened in the past. When it comes to UFO documentaries, arguably one of the most influentials is undoubtedly UFOs: Past, Present and Future which was produced in 1974 by filmmaker Robert Emenegger and his partner Allan Sandler. It may surprise rookies to the UFO field, but this film was requested by none other than United States Air Force –that’s right, the same Air Force that in 1968 sought to get rid of the annoying responsibility to investigate UFO reports, using the negative conclusions of the Condon Report as an excuse. So why is it that all of the sudden the AF was so enthusiastic about showing to the American public that UFOs were not just meteorological balloons, swamp gas or flocks of birds, like they were told numerous times whenever they saw something weird in the sky, and could in fact be evidence of a non-human intelligence operating on our planet for reasons unknown?
Emenegger never found out why, but during the production he was amazed by the level of cooperation he received from the top brass –the Pentagon spokesman Col. Coleman informed him the Secretary of the Air Force had given them the express order to cooperate– and the unrestricted access to DoD facilities. All of this was covered by Robbie Graham in his excellent book Silver Screen Saucers. Robbie also mentions the most enigmatic part of this classic documentary: the alleged footage of an actual landing of an alien craft on Holloman Air Force Base in 1971, which the AF officials promised to hand over to Emenegger so it would become the perfect ending for his film. Alas, the footage never materialized, and the officers gave Emenegger all sorts of excuses –the ‘timing’ was not right, they said, due to the Watergate scandal which had recently broken and ultimately ended Nixon’s presidency. Meanwhile, a frantic Emenegger had no choice but to resort to illustrated renderings in order to fill-in the gaps where the footage would be included; the whole sequence was presented as an incident that “might happen in the future, or perhaps could have happened already” and showed the alleged meeting between AF officers an humanoid UFOnauts with long noses and wearing shiny tight-fitting clothes. Emenegger said to Robbie that one very short clip from the actual Holloman film was inserted in the end, though.
UFOs: Past Present and Future was nominated to a Golden Globe and its important because of the unprecedented use of never-before-seen NASA footage of UFOs recorded by astronauts during outer space missions, as well as the interviews with former heads of Project Blue Book, who told on camera that despite the fact most UFO reports could be explained away as misidentifications and hoaxes, there remained a substantial percentage of cases that were truly remarkable and deserved further scrutiny. Why was the film greenlit in the first place and was there some secret agenda behind it? To this day Emenegger still doesn’t know, but the fact that his partner Sandler had strange connections to the CIA –which he didn’t know about prior to that production– and was the one who brought the project to him indicates the film might have had a counter-intelligence purpose unbeknownst to their creators.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the last time Emenegger was involved with the UFO enigma on a professional capacity. He also participated in the production of the controversial TV documentary UFOs Coverup? Live! In 1988, when the existence of Area 51 was first revealed to the American public on a broad scale, and in which a couple of anonymous insiders with their faces obscured and their voices altered, ‘revealed’ a secret pact between the US government and an extraterrestrial race from the Zeta Reticuli system, who aside from sharing their technological knowledge with the Americans had a penchant for Himalayan monks’ throat singing… and strawberry ice-cream(!). One of those whistleblowers (“Falcon”) was none other than Richard Doty, a man whose name is synonymous with deception in UFOlogy due to his involvement in the Bennewitz affair. Readers who want to learn more should do well in reading Greg Bishop’s Project Beta, and watch Mark Pilkington’s Mirage Men.
Why go through this UFO memory lane of old documentaries, you might ask? Because it is important to notice whether there’s a hidden hand in the way UFOs are portrayed and presented to the public through mass media. It bears repeating that TTSA’s connection with the US Intelligence world should not be overlooked, and as we have seen in the two examples presented above, whenever the CIA or other agencies get involved in the production of a UFO documentary, some subrosa agenda is always embedded, even if its ulterior motive escapes the comprehension of the people in the ‘white world’.
Right now it seems that a new element is being conspicuously pushed into the UFO narrative, and that is the existence of ‘meta-materials’ allegedly recovered from crash sites or other UFO encounters, and how young ‘tech-preneurs’ are very excited about the innovative implications of these artifacts. From the looks of it, TTSA’s docu-series is aiming to use that hype for its own benefit, and although this ‘Techgnosis’ might be the most suitable way for the public to embrace the reality of the UFO phenomenon in the XXIst century –“look at the gifts the gods from on high have bestowed upon us, we can make better iPhones with it!”– as someone who’s had all sorts of ambivalent opinions about ‘the Singularity’ (a.k.a. Rapture for Rich Nerds) this idea of seeing (alleged) alien tech as an opportunity for new capitalist startups doesn’t sit too well with me.
In Silver Screen Saucers, Robbie Graham analyzes the portrayal of the UFO phenomenon by Hollywood movies and TV shows through the lens of the postmodern theories of ‘Hyperreality’, a term coined by the social theorist Jean Baudrillard to represent something with which its superficial representation, boosted by the power of mass media and modern technologies of entertainment (cinema, television, videogames, etc), is perceived as ‘more real’ than the actual object itself. Viewed from that sociological perspective, UFOs are the ultimate hyperreal object, as explained by Robbie in his recently re-published essay UFOs: Fact, Fantasy and Hyperreality:
Cinematic simulations of UFOlogical history (UFO movies and TV shows) simultaneously actualize and fictionalize their underlying subject matter – it becomes hyperreal, both real and unreal. We can unpack this concept into what I consider to be the three phases of UFOlogical hyperreality:
In which a film or TV show is produced that reflects a basic UFOlogical reality.
In which the basic UFOlogical reality is screened as spectacle for mass consumption, and, in the process, is masked and perverted through the cultural value of the medium (in this case film or TV, but we could also extend it to video games, comic books, etc.).
In which reality and simulation are experienced as without difference, or rather, the image has come to mean more to us than any underlying reality.
Essentially, then, the hyperreality of the UFO phenomenon has arisen primarily through processes of mass media simulation. The blurring of true and false, real and imaginary, through that most magical of mediums (cinema), and within the context of that most fantastical of genres (science fiction), engenders our acceptance of the UFO as just that: a fictional media construct with little or no grounding in our lived historical reality. And yet, thanks to their permanent residency in the popular imagination, UFOs are no less real to us as a result.
TTSA has never hidden its purpose to mass produce entertainment content intended to ‘educate’ the public about the reality of UFO phenomenon. From Robbie’s perspective, we could say they seek to manipulate the ‘hyperreality’ of UFOs according to their goals, and they will use all their tools at their disposal –History Channel’s distribution, CGI cinematics, compelling testimonies of credible witnesses– to do so. One might want to see this as a very good thing, if the only thing you care about is for the rest of the world to agree with you that YES, Ufos are real.
But how people perceive that UFO reality influences how they’ll react when someone asks: “Now, what do we do about it?”