Friday, July 20, 2012

[CHASING UFOs]: "It Reminds Us ... of the Desperate and Shabby State of UFO Inquiry in America ..."


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Nat Geo's Chasing UFOs

Everything’s coming up roses

By Billy Cox
De Void
7-17-12
     It’s probably just my Comcast feed, but maybe there’s a quality control issue with the National Geographic Channel. For the last couple of Friday nights, the “Chasing UFOs” episodes frequently stutter and pixelate like DVD abrasions, which seems symbolically appropriate.

Reviews of this trifling reality show have been so blistering that last week, “Chasing UFOs” co-star James Fox went public with his frustrations by offering an apology and admitting “My credibility and reputation has, deservedly, taken a serious hit.” The filmmaker who produced two respectable UFO documentaries, “Out of the Blue” and “I Know What I Saw,” cited “a lack of control in the field and zero in post” production.

“Chasing UFOs” colleague Ben McGee also weighed in at Leslie Kean’s Facebook page and stated “Our intentions were very sincere.” As the appointed skeptic, McGee said “I had plans to provide insightful context that I thought viewers of all stripes would appreciate and find engaging – examples of spaceflight technology, astronomy, planetary science – helping anchor the show.” Those aspirations are clearly in the ditch, and McGee now finds himself linked to Fox in more ways than one. “Injecting science into mainstream media is … problematic,” he writes, “and I am suffering heat in my own circles for the lack thereof on the show.”

Mutual best intentions notwithstanding, it’s a little hard to believe neither saw this Hardy Boys lightweight for what it was, early on, when the producers began fixating on face-cams and field investigations conducted in the black of night, illuminated by super-duper night-vision optics. It reminds us once again of the desperate and shabby state of UFO inquiry in America, and of the unnatural contortions to which smart people are willing to submit in order to reach the mass market.

Given the roughly 18 minutes of commercials that abbreviate the typical hour-long TV show, each installment of “Chasing UFOs” also looks to be about 38 minutes too long, dominated as it is by contrived tension and irrelevant road-trip hijinks. You can boil down last Friday night’s episode, for instance, into two sentences: 1) The team discovered a military-issue button at the alleged Roswell crash site (which means nothing; the military never denied it conducted a recovery operation of something in the desert in July 1947), and 2) a retired USAF officer who worked at the old White Sands missile range doesn’t think this intriguing but unsourced UFO footage looks like a crashing rocket:


“I promise I’ll either quit or change my position within the show,” Fox stated last week, “because at least I can make it all make some sense” if given freer rein. The good news is, should Fox bail, the damage likely won’t stick because the standards for UFO coverage are so low. McGee’s colleagues will no doubt forgive him and laugh off this experiment as well.

You can guess the rest. Publicly, everything is coming up roses for “Chasing UFOs.” NatGeo spokesperson Erin Griffin says McGee and Fox are “not in hot water, by any means” for speaking out because “my understanding is, they were taken out of context.” Which is true, of practically anything and anybody. The whole world is taken out of context. Griffin says the bean-counters are happy: “This show is doing well for us.”
~~BOOK SALE~~

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