Blink 182 and the Deep State: the real X-Files
While you were being distracted by Roseanne Barr’s enthusiasm for QAnon’s tireless work inside Trump’s administration, that most hardy of perennial conspiracy theories – the UFO cover-up – has been to college, dropped out of college, has its digital signature on all of its social media profiles, and is now working on an ‘app’ while chilling to Netflix.
These days it goes by the moniker “UFO disclosure”. Because we’ve got beyond the need for actual physical evidence of the existence of alien vehicles on our planet. We know it’s true, so why would we need proof? (A New York Times piece on US Navy pilots detecting flying objects in 2004, that traveled at hypersonic speeds but had no visible propulsion system, has been widely interpreted as tacit government confirmation of extra terrestrial presence on Earth. However, these incidents – more recent reports of which happened to coincide with the launch a History Channel TV show – are more likely to suggest a continued psyop by the US government to deflect from its testing of new aviation and space technologies. Or possibly that Russia or China have some high-level secret technologies of their own).
Even Hilary Clinton’s former campaign advisor – you know, that one guy who clicked on an email attachment from Russian hackers, enabling them to read all the DNC’s emails – believes there’s a cover-up. His candidate was talking about it during the 2016 campaign. (No, I’m not kidding. I wish I was, but I’m not. That really happened). With the caliber of people who had Hilary’s back, how did the Kremlin manage to nudge the vote in Trump’s favour? I’ll never get it.
Just to clear this one up before we get any further, there aren’t any UFOs. Or at least there certainly aren’t any alien vehicles on our planet. There’s not one shred, one scrap, one iota, not one material piece of evidence that would lead any rational person to conclude that we are being visited by beings from another world. It’s bullshit, lies, bunkum, flimflam, gimcrack, balderdash, piffle. There are no alien spacecraft on Earth. Got that? (This may be a good thing, more on which in a moment…)
The UFO disclosure “movement” is now big business. Rival UFO disclosure movement “leaders” vie for crowdfunding and speaker’s fees at UFO conferences. By a wide margin, the mega-celebrity of this global media mini-industry is Steven M Greer.
Greer cornered the market some years ago in incredibly long podcasts and even longer David Icke-style public talks. The kind that go on for an entire day. Like Icke, he uses the standard technique of both cults and people strong-arming victims into buying timeshare properties, which is to slowly wear down someone’s willingness to disbelieve the quality of palpably hinky information. They do this by repeatedly exposing the mark – or marks – to slightly variant versions of the same “fact”… Effectively, it’s conditioning someone to accept a particular bias by repetitive, subtle re-confirmation of it. (“It’s quite a long list and one which seems to include most shapes and ideas and colours and things. I was slightly disappointed that I wasn’t included in the list to be honest.”)
Greer is perhaps best known for his “documentary” ‘Unacknowledged’ which claims to expose the extent of a Deep State coverup of the global UFO phenomenon. Let’s briefly examine some of the idiosyncrasies of UFO disclosure experts and interviewees in ‘Unacknowledged’, and the many other similar – though less professionally-made – efforts to cash-in on the success of the brand. Another impetus for people to make UFO disclosure content is the popularity of ‘Ancient Aliens‘ on the History Channel (sic). This has blended Greer’s shtick with Erich von Däniken’s ahistorical ‘Chariots of the Gods’ thesis from the Seventies. Which is, essentially, that former colonial peoples were too thick to invent any useful technology and art without ET showing them what to do, first.
It’s useful to consider the kinds of people who often appear in these documentaries, and the kinds of things they tend to discuss, because it demonstrates how proven untruths become mainstream “facts” without the need for dark forces to orchestrate the spread of bullshit.
All that’s necessary for bullshit to thrive, and to grow to have a sizable cultural footprint, is for professional content vendors to do nothing to impede blatant, shameless distortion of the truth. What fake history about UFOs has in common with fake news on Breitbart, The Canary, Sputnik, Spiked! and Infowars is that brazenly commercial forces – often motivated by dwindling marketshare and returns – have taken over from any kind of adult discretion, supervision, or quality control. If the only thing militating whether or not an argument or contention is taken seriously is that someone is prepared to click on it, then you’re in for a Groundhog Day of confirmation bias.
The very existence of a fake “fact”, and it’s reiteration, becomes further proof of the veracity of the “fact”, in much the same way that the salesman is telling you – yet again – how great the views from the Vegas time share condo are, yet seems not to notice how much you need to pee, so yeah maybe it is a nice view of the Strip can I just go and pee, please? The presence of a fake “fact” on an apparently reputable platform further confirms its validity in the minds of true believers. Or, more simply, something is more true the more times you say it, and the more prestigious the platforms from which you say it. (Correlation isn’t causation. But the existence of a movement that links the MMR vaccine to autism is sufficient to create renewed measles outbreaks. Medical science had significantly lowered any risk of this in a developed country, but this is where we are now).
The essential tenets or articles of faith of ‘Unacknowledged’ are those of most UFO conspiracy lore: ET is benign, and the UFO cover-up is a Deep State operation of shadowy and self-interested forces in government, who want to prevent the adoption by humanity of “clean” alien technology (“zero point energy”, literally the belief that free energy can emerge from a vacuum because quantum mechanics). This would threaten oil interests, and we all know that oil corporations really run everything, right? Because the Deep State, the New World Order, “globalism”, the 1%, the secret world governments of bankers and corporations *cough*Jerry Seinfeld*cough*… those are literally all A Thing. Anyone in the street could tell you that. How do we know ET is a goodie? The aliens aren’t just visitors, they’re here to prevent humanity from blowing itself up with nuclear weapons. Yes, I know that’s the plot of the 1951 SF classic directed by Robert Wise, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, but let’s run with it…
The UFO disclosure movement takes the view that the absence of any physical evidence of non-terrestrial technology on our planet proves that it exists. Yes. Let me back that one up for you and go again: because there is no evidence, it proves there must be an overwhelming quantity of it, hidden by the aforementioned dark forces. We know, from all the people that have claimed to see UFOs, that not a handful but huge numbers of UFOs have crashed, and that the Nevada desert is overflowing with secret USAF hangars full of them, all under the government’s lock and key. So where are they? It must be the Deep State, which has power you couldn’t even begin to imagine, concealing this motherload of evidence.
But if ET is trying to monitor nuclear weapons facilities on Earth, why do they always visit the United States? You could argue that Russia and China, and possibly Pakistan, are sufficiently closed societies that their governments could – just about – scoop up all the crashed alien vehicles and keep them out of the public eye. But what about India? I spend a fair amount of time in India, and while it has its own problems with bullshit pseudo-Science and fake news, it’s also a vast territory with 1.3 billion+ citizens, with high levels of adult literacy and at least high school-level education, plus a somewhat free press. Smartphone ownership in India and China is vast, so how could it be, in the era of mass-surveillance and social media, that not one credible sighting has been documented in either country? The idea that a UFO could crash anywhere in India and it wouldn’t be headline news straight away is as risible as it is racist.
Or is ET a white supremacist? Because aliens only ever seem to talk to old white guys, and only old white guys seem to be interviewed on these kinds of UFO disclosure documentaries. Almost any YouTube video with “witnesses” and insiders speaking out about the UFO cover-up, suggests nothing less than an endless succession of disappointed old white men, who were passed over in life for some elusive special prize. (“You work and scrape all your life to expose the UFO cover-up, but where’s old Gil’s lick of that sweet brass ring?”) Whatever compartmentalised secret government project it is that other UFO expert is talking to, whoo boy… they saw him coming. But let me tell you the real inside scoop. The real Deep State secret that no-one wants you to know…
Greer’s ‘Unacknowledged’ is distributed by ailing film company Sony’s “indie” arm, ‘The Orchard’. Greer’s Sirius Disclsoure website claims it’s “the most successful crowd-funded documentary in history” which “reached number 1 on Netflix for documentaries”.
Rather than mass communication forming mass movements, the key to political power in an era of “disruptive technologies” and incessant media hits is to spoon-feed nuggets of confirmation bias to disagregated groups of wing nuts, strewn around culture like Philip Dick’s bunch of hats. The marriage of convenience that paired Greer’s media brand with one of Sony’s film divisions puts an untrue thesis – that UFOs are alien vehicles – into the mainstream on Netflix, like it’s a factual documentary.
How is the incurious viewer to know that ‘Unacknowledged’ is, provably, wrong? Typing the words “documentary” into the ‘movies’ section of any file-sharing website reveals a harrowing library of readily available antisemtic, revisionist, far Right lies, a back catalogue of nonsense as resilient as it is pernicious. Presumably Sony and Netflix would stop short of promoting Holocaust denial as a valid, if debatable, viewpoint? The corrosive nature of conspiracy theory culture seems to do no obvious harm. After all, the New York Times and the History Channel are along for the ride already.
Despite the extensive prepublicity around ‘Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation’, currently on the History Channel – publicity which has percolated into informational space so extensively that serious political journalists, such as NPR’s politics podcast recently, have given the claims contained in the show some credence – the series so far offers very little new by way of evidence, and follows a pattern familiar from Greer’s and other “UFO disclosure” conspiracy theory fare, albeit in a slicker package. (Aerial shots taken with a quadcopter are to the second decade of the 21st century what “through the front doors” rotating computer animated models of ancient buildings were to Nineties TV).
The central conceit of the programme is that a super team of old white guys with high-level security clearance are going to blow the lid off the UFO cover-up by their government, which they’re still effectively part of. They’re led in this effort by very much “of the moment” musician Tom DeLong of ‘Blink 182’ (Coldplay to Green Day’s Radiohead, or an upstart Weezer, if you will), last heard of dodging a PR bullet by pulling out of Fyre Festival. DeLong, a shrewd customer, appears through the show as a kind of Tony Stark figure who’s been designated as the front guy for the US government coming clean with itself as regards unexplained goings on in its air space.
What the show’s narrative neglects to mention is that DeLong is Executive Producer of ‘Unidentified’, which is made by his ‘To the Stars’ foundation. DeLong implied some years ago, when the first of these “leaks” appeared, that the purpose behind his foundation, and his unexpected career shift to being the Elon Musk of the conspiracy theory industry, was to retro-engineer alien technology and jumpstart a new phase of human space exploration. (The clue being in the name ‘To The Stars’). However, as this ‘documentary’ series makes clear, DeLong’s involvement in the UFO disclosure movement is more likely to be motivated by his potential financial profits from producing television shows.
This doesn’t explain why Podesta and other – we thought – serious old white guys from the US government are joining in DeLong’s quest to confirm one another’s biases. The testimony of US naval pilots is of interest, and new, but the overall thesis seems to fall apart when we’re told of a mysterious helicopter showing up to confiscate all the radar evidence of a US battle cruiser that encountered a fleet of 40 foot long “tic-tac”-shaped objects off the coast of San Diego in 2004, objects that could reach hypersonic speeds in a matter of seconds. The crew of the black ‘copter neglected to take away the (easily faked) video from the aircraft, the leak of which effectively set DeLong & Co’s UFO-hunter’s media careers in motion. (Those bumbling MIB, eh?) The most likely explanation for all of this is that it’s a continuation of the US government policy of talking up UFOs as aliens, as a cover story for developing experimental aircraft and suborbital space vehicles. It’s worked pretty well for more than sixty years, so why stop now?
It’s far less likely, but still possible, that there’s a secret US government programme (“the Deep State is real“) or that Russia, China or a similar adversary or ally of the US has technology that’s beyond anything currently conceived of. The least likely scenario is that an extraterrestrial or interdimensional civilisation is benignly “buzzing” humanity, to borrow from Douglas Adams, and has been hanging around since the Fifties, mildly messing with us in order to see how we respond. For some reason. This latter scenario is also the one that’s the most frightening. Fleets of vehicles that can move from outer space, into the planet’s atmosphere, into the sea, and back again – traveling at thirty times the speed of sound, and able to turn on a dime – isn’t technology for which any army on Earth has adequate defences, presently. We had better hope that ET is benign, although the experiences of any of the indigenous people of America’s West Coast would strongly suggest that isn’t a safe assumption.
The greatest and saddest irony of all in the US secret state using reality TV to perpetuate a psyop that’s been effective for decades, would be that in faking news in order to defend America’s security, it would make America and its allies more vulnerable to attack. Russia has attacked the USA and Britain with Trump and Brexit, and is winning. Trump isn’t being investigated by Congress with a view to impeachment, yet, despite having very clearly obstructed justice. Boris Johnson is about to be British Prime Minister despite being clearly unfit for the office and having taken advice from Bannon, an ally of Putin. Reality TV and Infowars conspiracy theory culture have been instrumental to Bannon’s agenda of undermining journalism, flooding informational space with bullshit. How sad it will be if it turns out that John Podesta was so busy playing his part in a cover-up of military aviation tests, he failed to notice the Russian influencing campaign was using the same tools – reality TV and conspiracy theories spreading from the internet to mainstream news coverage – to defeat his candidate, Hilary Clinton.