Recently, there has been an upsurge of programs on US and other countries' television, featuring UAP themes. Pre-advertising tells us that there are more on the way. It seems that many television production companies are seizing the opportunity afforded by a re-newed interest in the topic amongst the general public. Even in remote and isolated Australia, today I received an email from a producer from a US "Science Channel project that involves an episode that looks at the Nimitz incident." I declined to participate.
Dr Diana Walsh Pasulka
Religious scholar, D W Pasulka, also comments along similar lines in her recent book "American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology," (Oxford University Press, New York, 2019. ISBN 9780190693497.) On page 127 she states:
|Image courtesy of Amazon Books|
"UFO related programming is increasing too, especially within settings that ostensibly offer information about real events, like the National Geographic Channel and the History Channel. Increasingly, this fictionalized programming about UFOs is being interspersed with production about historical and real events. Brad Dancer, National Geographic's senior vice president for audience and business development, recently acknowledged that companies like his might play a role in bolstering UFO belief."
I saw a similar surge, about three years ago, when even I, in Australia, received an invitation from a TV production company in Canada, which entailed an all expenses trip over there, to film episodes for the show. After undertaking some preliminary work with them, I decided not to proceed further.
Why do I say no to such invitations? Well, I have already been there and done that before. In my younger days, I was involved in working with a number of local and overseas TV production companies. Inevitably, I found that the finished product was merely for entertainment, never a serious look at the phenomenon. Plus, for the production company, there was always the lure of commercial success if the pilot episodes were taken up for a second or further series. I can honestly say that they had no other motives - simply, entertainment, and commercial profit.
Pasulka has something to say about this on page 83:
"From my own research, I knew that digital media and media of all forms are manipulated to produce a specific response that is desired by the producers for purely economic reasons."
My own experiences
Speaking of my own experience with TV production companies, I soon learnt to ask them if, instead of spending time making a re-creation of how they thought the UAP incident occurred according to the producer's needs; that they would fund me to undertake a re-investigation of the event, and then use that?
Their answer was always, no. That is not the way we work. So, from that time, whenever I receive an invitation from a TV production company that promises to faithfully re-produce the details of a UAP event; I simply ask them to fund a re-investigation of the event using original source material. I have yet to have one company take me up on this offer. To me, this confirms their motivation of entertainment and profit.
I have spoken to individuals in that industry who gave me the inside story of how TV production companies work. It only reinforced my decision not to become involved with them. Pasulka, on page 6, talking about the "players" she came across when conducting her research for the book, states:
"The second category consists of those who interpret, spin, produce and market the story of UFO events to the general public...members of the second category are very vocal about information they have received second, third or even fourth-hand. Often they even make up stories or derive their information from hoaxes."
Going back to my Canadian TV production company experience, I worked for hours with a very professional, polite, researcher engaged by that company to elicit details of an Australian close encounter case which I had investigated. I forwarded a complete set of my investigation notes on the case, and spent time on the telephone speaking to her. She drafted up a "script" for the company based on the information I provided her. After a while she came back to me and told me that the producers wanted a less documentary approach and she needed to rewrite her "script" in a quasi drama format. At this point, I declined to participate further. Needless, to say I was never invited to fly to Canada.
TV production company ethics
Pasulka, page 211, relates a media experience which happened to Rey Hernandez, the co-founder of the Dr Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters, who had numerous UAP and paranormal experiences. Hernandez reported his events to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON.)
"One day Rey received an email from a friend who said that he had seen Ray's family's experience portrayed on the television program Hangar 1, produced by the History Channel. Rey was horrified to find that an entire episode was based on his family's experience, but that the events as represented on the show didn't resemble their experience. Disturbingly, the message it conveyed was the opposite of his own and his family's experience."
What were Pasulka's conclusion in this area? I found them on page 212:
"The use of a genre associated with truth, the documentary, produced by a company ostensibly related to veridical, historical accounts (in Rey's case the History Channel,) supports a central claim of this book - that what one sees on television, in the movies, and on the internet does not necessarily convey the actual stories of those who experience the events. Yet the mechanisms provide a convincing viewing framework. As viewers are entertained by the production, they are also forming opinions. biases, even memories that help them interpret and form meanings associated with UFOs."
I will close this post with a last quote from Pasulka. "The truth is potentially 'out there,' but its unlikely to be found in media productions."