Do You Believe In Aliens And UFOs? You’re Not Alone
Do you believe in little green men?
No, I don’t mean leprechauns. We all know they exist, they make Lucky Charms. I mean aliens. Life on other planets. Black gold. Texas tea. Sorry, too many episodes of “Beverly Hillbillies” ingested.
Judging by aliens’ popularity right now, even if you don’t believe, you’re still interested in the bug-eyed baldies. And the funny thing is, our perception of that life is about 90 percent shaped by the world of entertainment.
Ever since H.G. Wells created Martians, the public’s imagination has far outstripped its logical skepticism. Sure, it’s interesting to read about a NASA probe discovering water on Jupiter’s moons, but it’s more exciting to read about a “SECRET ALIEN AUTOPSY TAPE!,” whether we think it’s real or not. Carl Sagan and his white-coat pals can blather on all they want about theories on other-worldly existence, but they’re fighting an uphill battle against glow-in-the-dark E.T.s guzzling Bud Lite around newborn crop circles.
We, as a society, have an insatiable need for the new, the unusual. Look at how voraciously we create and devour new celebrities, probing every arcane crevice in their lives. How much more new and unusual can you get than a race from another planet? The minute the saucers landed, the aliens would be instant stars.
The bottom line is, we’d like to believe we’re not alone. We’d like to believe that there’s hope beyond our planet — that there’s someone who might be able to help us clean our mess up, something that could unite us as one human race.
The company 1-800-MusicNow recently conducted a random survey of Americans and found that half of us believe in extraterrestrials.
In addition, the survey said:
One in five people would take Garth Brooks’ “Ropin’ the Wind” if they could only pick one CD to escape the aliens with. Obviously a lot of country music fans took this survey.
If an alien asked what America is like, more than a third of Americans would play “God Bless the U.S.A. Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood. The other two-thirds of you can now retch.
Twenty-five percent of people think that Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” would repel the aliens back to their own planet. Whether or not they would be line-dancing all the way back is the real question.
Over half of the people figure that if aliens take over our radio stations, they’ll play classical music on all of them.
I don’t know about you, but I draw four important conclusions from these results:
1. If there are any aliens in the Quad-Cities, they probably work at WVIK.
2. The minute the saucers darken our skies, we’d better start being a lot nicer to Billy Ray Cyrus.
3. The people working at 1-800-MusicNow have far too much time on their hands.
4. We, as a society, should probably banish the Kardashians to Siberia.
Well, the last one doesn’t have much to do with the survey, but I still think it’s a good idea.
Really, though, what do you think it would be like if aliens stopped by for a visit? Would they be friendly? Would they be ornery? Would they bring really cheap bottles of wine as a gift?
After all, what do we know about aliens? According to films, we know that they enjoy Reeses pieces. We know that some of them have triangular skulls and claim to come from France. We know Sigourney Weaver is adept at kicking their duffs.
Our perception of life outside our biosphere has so much to do with the picture the media and entertainment industry paints of it. And that picture depends heavily on societal factors.
Aliens in fiction often act as metaphors for our xenophobia at the time. In the ’50s, aliens were vicious and often huge symbols for the throngs of evil Russkies who sought to overrun our shores!. In the ’60s and early ’70s, aliens were human-sized, as peoples’ fears were more concentrated on individuals abusing power.
In the mid-’70s, with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the “flower power” aliens made their debut. Steven Spielberg envisioned E.T.s as wise and benign — proving peace and love would prevail even between planets. After “E.T.” was a smash, the trend toward friendly aliens gassed up and burned rubber for almost a decade.
But now, as our faith in practically everything has eroded and illegal immigration is a big, red-flag issue, aliens in film aren’t so cuddly anymore.
When I was in high school, our French teacher used to tell us that when she was a girl she went to the movies every Saturday and that colored her perception of the world. She thought that Chicago was overrun by gangsters like Jimmy Cagney and that people in America were all rich, glamorous and successful. Obviously she was disappointed when she got here. Are we going to be disappointed as well if and when the spaceships land? Our attitude is likely to depend on the prevailing trend.
After all, imagine if the aliens all looked and acted like the Kardashians.
I’ve still got my copy of Billy Ray’s disc, just in case.