Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ten Thirteen Addenda: Touched by an Alien

When I began working on my analysis of The X-Files: I Want to Believe, I was a bit hesitant. What I was writing about dealt with abduction phenomenon, something I am resolutely agnostic about and also something that hasn't had much resonance in the Memestream lately. But since I posted the first part of the X-Files article last Monday, abductions are suddenly in the media again. I was wondering why I'd put off talking about the film in detail for so long (it's been out over a year now) but maybe I was subconsciously waiting for the right time. Either way, the synchronicity of it all is fascinating.

Since then, the trailer for The Fourth Kind has garnered a lot of attention and ABC aired a special Dateline on abductees/experiencers (I haven't watched it yet) on Tuesday night. As I mentioned, I was struck by the owl symbolism in TFK trailer, given that a posting on owls sparked a lot of discussion here in July. And though Touched has been out a few months now, it just caught my attention now.

Is this all being orchestrated? It's certainly possible. The interest in abduction is usually how the media responds to UFO flaps. On one hand, reporting on abduction humanizes the issue, but it also allows generous servings of fear and ridicule to be injected into the whole UFO subject (meaning those who don't fall for the fear angle will buy into the ridicule, and vice versa).

Abduction phenomenon is deeply personal and subjective, whereas the waves of sightings and photographs are not. There's nothing for the media to argue about, outside of the usual shills lecturing us that there are tens of thousands of UFO hoaxers out there faking it all. The media might hype things like the UK opening its UFO files, which sounds impressive until you realize the material released is usually ridiculous. Five minutes on any reputable UFO website will blow these so-called "disclosures" out the door.

And it must be said that while I believe that many abductees/experiencers are sincere, intelligent and honest, too many are not. And those are the ones that the mainstream media will eventually focus on, which ends up humiliating genuine experiencers and discouraging others from coming forward with their stories.

UPDATE: Well, I watched the ABC special and it was pretty much what I expected. If I were a committed skeptic on the issue, I would come away completely unshaken. There were the usual media tricks- obvious hoax photos and footage cross-cut with cartoons and toys of Greys and the usual amateurish drawings. I did find the sleep paralysis explanation interesting, but am always frustrated that no one ever stops to ask if this itself is part of some sort of remote contact. One of the subjects I found to be completely non-credible, others seemed sincere but not particularly compelling.

In short, it's specials like this that very skillfully claim to be objective but actively promote skepticism through selective presentation, juxtaposition, subtle ridicule and poor follow-through.