Posts Tagged ‘Disneyland of the Gods’

Black Earthling Boy Meets White Alien in New John Lewis Christmas Ad

November 4, 2021

John Lewis have just launched their Christmas. This follows their failed advert for insurance, in which a White boy in makeup dances around the family home wrecking it and spraying glitter and paint everywhere. That was widely criticised for promoting the trans ideology amongst children and for false advertising, as apparently the insurance policy being sold didn’t cover deliberate damage. In the new advert, a cute Black little boy sees an alien spacecraft fall out of the sky. He follows the contrail into the woods, where he sees a crashed alien spaceship and its humanoid pilot. The alien is White with white hair and rather feminine. The lad offers her some mince pies. The alien accepts them, and the two becomes friends. While fixing her craft the alien sets the electrics working so that the Christmas lights on a neighbour’s house suddenly come on, much to the neighbour’s annoyance. Having repaired her spacecraft, the alien gives the lad a peck on the cheek in farewell and flies off. The lad goes home to join his family for a festive meal, while looking into the sky. The sound track for the ad is a cover version of Phil Oakey’s ‘Electric Dreams’. I found this video of it put up on YouTube by the Guardian.

Alex Belfield has already posted a rant about it. He rightly points out that it doesn’t contain much in the way of Christmas imagery. There’s no Santa Claus, although it’s possibly a pine forest so there might be Christmas trees. There also isn’t much in the way of specifically Christian imagery either. I might be wrong, but there’s no nativity scene. It’s a very secular interpretation of Christmas. A decade ago there was controversy over what the Daily Mail and other right-wing papers and organisations described as a ‘war on Christmas’. They were angry because some local councils appeared to be deliberately omitting or playing down any mention of Christmas because they were somehow afraid it would offend non-Christian minorities. Birmingham council was particularly attacked for its reinterpretation of the festive season as ‘Winterval’. I’ve heard instead that, rather than replace Christmas, ‘Winterval’ was dreamed up as a marketing initiative by Brum’s council to create an inclusive festive season that would also cover the festivals of other faiths near Christmas, like Hanukka and Diwali. Also, from what I saw, most if not all of the calls for the removal of any public celebration of Christmas came not from the members of non-Christian religions, but from atheists and secularists like the National Humanist Society. The framed their arguments on behalf of religious minorities, while I think they were far more motivated by the rise of a much more militant atheism following the publication of Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I also think that the advert is secular simply from the sheer mechanism of capitalism, although John Lewis is organised as a partnership with its workers more like a cooperative. Capitalism and private industry exist to maximise profits. One way of doing this is seeking out new markets to you can sell your product to more people. About 15 per cent of the British population is Black and Asian, and many of the latter are non-Christians, like Hindus, Muslims and so on. Christians are now a minority in the general population. Hence John Lewis and many of the other firms advertising play down Christmas as a religious festival in order to appeal to a broader section of customers.

But Belfield also criticised the advert because he thinks that the alien in it is ‘ambivilacious’, his term for anything that is gay, non-binary, trans or generally sexually ambiguous. I can see what he means, though it seems to me that the alien is more like a pre-adolescent girl rather than anything more exotic and controversial. I might be reading it wrong, but it seems more like a tale of Earth boy meets alien girl in an innocent Christmastide romance.

Behind all this, I think the advert’s been strongly influenced by a number of pop songs and seasonal films. It reminds me more than a little of the Chris de Burgh song about a visiting spaceman at Christmas, which really is a Christian metaphor. ET with its friendship between a human child, Elliot, and a cute extraterrestrial, is another one, although it also has its differences. The most significant of which is, in my opinion, ET was definitely nonhuman and alien, while the alien in this very humanoid except for her suit and the colouring of her hair. It also reminds me of the seasonal children’s film, A Christmas Martian, a Canadian film that the Beeb screened one festive season over here when I was a sprog. Mercifully, the advert doesn’t seem to have been inspired by the truly dreadful Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which was screened over here one Christmas in the early ’80s as part of Michael Medved’s season of terrible movies, The Worst of Hollywood, on Channel 4. But if the alien is sexually ambiguous, I suspect it might be due more to the influence of David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust than the trans movement.

Or it might come from certain aspects of the UFO phenomenon itself. Among the various aliens supposedly visiting Earth and abducting people are the ‘Nordics’. These are tall, blonde aliens, like Nordic White Europeans, hence the name. They are also sometimes described as having long hair and a feminine appearance. One of the early UFO contactees, Frank E. Strange, provides a picture of one in his book A Stranger in the Pentagon. Strange claimed that the US government has made a treaty with aliens from Venus. These aliens could provide us with a method of producing cheap, clean energy, but had been prevented from doing so by ‘certain interests’. If nothing else, this shows that people were looking for alternative energy as long ago as the ’50s and ’60s, and the ‘certain interests’ sounds very much like a veiled reference to the oil industry. The ‘alien’ in the photo to me simply looks like a blonde, glamorous woman and not like anyone who arrived here from Venus, or anywhere else. The veteran Fortean, John Keel, author of the books The Mothman Prophecies, UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse and Disneyland of the Gods, stated that the Nordics were so feminine in appearance he wondered if they were gay. You can certainly wonder what was going on in Buck Nelson’s encounter with the Nordics on his farm. He was going out to his barn one morning when a group of four of them, all with long hair, came out of his barn, stark naked. They told him they from Venus, and explained the nudity by saying that they wore no clothes in order to show him that they were as human as he was. Well, they might have been Venusians, but it seems to me they may also have been a group of ordinary men. They may have been gay, and looking for a quiet place for their activities because of the legal prohibition of homosexuality in America at the time. Or they may have been pranksters playing a joke.

It also reminds me of a supposedly true UFO encounter that happened in the 1970s at Christmas. A woman was in her kitchen baking cakes when a groups of small, winged aliens came in. They greeted her and asked for some of the cakes, which she gave to them. They made a few more remarks before finally departing. This is one of the stranger UFO cases which makes me definitely wonder if the UFO phenomenon isn’t a more modern version of the ancient fairy phenomenon rather than anything genuinely extraterrestrial. This does not, however, mean that it isn’t still paranormal, as Keel and Jacques Vallee have argued in their books.

Back to the advert, it looks innocuous enough. While I can’t say that I like it’s secularism, this seems to be a response to the changes in British society rather than an ideologically motivated attempt to foster such changes. And the values it embraces seem wholesome enough. Black and White people come together across the gulfs of space and the Black lad is shown at home enjoying a family meal. This is, in my view, definitely good, as the breakdown in the British and western family has done immense harm to both Whites and Blacks.

If I have a criticism, it’s about the background music. The original song ‘Electric Dreams’ is a jolly, upbeat piece. It was, I believe, used in the 1980s SF film, Weird Science, about two teenage boys who create their idea of the perfect woman on their computer, who then materialises before them. Sort of like Beavis and Butthead meet Tron. And the perfect woman, clad only in bra and panties, says to them ‘What would you little maniacs like to do next?’ The version used here turns it instead into a plaintive ballad until the final few bars, more an expression of sorrow and loss than joy. But it seems to follow a general trend of reinterpretations of classic tracks. At the Commonwealth Games held in Scotland a few years ago the opening ceremony included a version of the Proclaimers’ ‘I Would Walk Five Hundred Miles’. This song is another upbeat hit in something very much like classic march time. But instead it was performed as another plaintive, soulful wail. I’m probably showing my age here, but is contemporary youth so depressed that they can only listen to depressing versions of great old songs? Or is it that the middle aged producers of adverts like John Lewis’ are so depressed, that they can only listen to depressing versions of upbeat hits and so are unintentional contributing to the psychological and spiritual anguish of the rising generation. A generation that has enough problems of its own.

Anyway, even if the advert is intended to sell people stuff rather than anything deeper, it’s a fun piece of trash culture with a bit of kinship to some genuine Ufological high strangeness. And that’s always good for a festive tale of the paranormal.

And here’s the trailer for Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which I found on the DTFFmaryville channel on YouTube. In its way, truly a cinematic classic!

The First Science Fictional UFO Crash: Le Philosophe sans pretention

October 21, 2021

Ufology is full of stories of crashed alien spaceships. The best known is the Roswell UFO crash of 1947, in which the US air force under Hector Quintillana picked up the remains of a flying disc, complete with alien bodies, which came down on Mac Brazel’s ranch. The air force subsequently reversed their statement a day or so later, claiming that what had been recovered was merely a weather balloon, and released a photograph of Major Quintillana with something that certainly looked like the remains of one and not an alien spaceship. Many UFO investigators believe that a real alien spacecraft was recovered, though the late John Keel believed that it was probably a Mogul spy balloon used to gather information on Soviet nuclear tests. There are also stories that a secret autopsy was performed on the alien bodies. This was the basis for the notorious 1990s fake alien autopsy film released by Ray Santilli, and which in turn became the basis for the comedy Alien Autopsy starring Ant and Dec and Omid Djalili, amongst others. But long before the rise of the modern UFO phenomenon, earlier proto-Science Fiction writers were already penning tales of aliens travelling to Earth. One of these was Micromegalas, written by the French philosopher Voltaire. Another French writer, Louis Guillaume de La Follie wrote a similar tale about a scientist from Mercury who invents a spacecraft. This, however, is used by a colleague of the scientist to travel across space before finally crashing on Earth. I found this brief precis of the tale in Frederick I. Ordway’s and Randy Lieberman’s Blueprint for Space: Science Fiction to Science Fact (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press 1992). This is a collection of papers tracing the development of space travel from the ancient world, through the rise of Science Fiction, including the pulp magazines, space art to the development of the rocket and real space vehicles. The passage reads

Some of the characteristics of the modern science fiction novel appeared in a 1775 French workk by Louis Guillaume de La Follie, Le philosophe sans pretention. A strange tale unfolds of Mercurian who arrives on Earth and relates his adventures to one Nadir, an Oriental. It seems that on the planet Mercury an inventor named Scintilla had created a marvelous flying chariot powered by electricity. Amid scorn and ridicule, he proved that his invention would work in an amazing test flight witnessed by members of the Academy. This unleashes a series of events that leads to Mercury’s first spaceflight. Though doubting the practicality of the invention, a colleague named Ormisais nevertheless tries it out and, to his great surprise, the device functions after all. So he flies away to Earth in Scintilla’s electric chariot and, after a fairly standard trip, crash-lands on our world.

There’s also an illustration from the book of the flying chariot, and a caption giving its full title and its English translation: Le philosophe sans pretension ou l’homme rare – The Unpretentious Philosopher or the Unusual Man.

One of the aspects of the UFO phenomenon I find particularly intriguing is the way so much of its resembles Science Fiction and traditional fairy and other supernatural lore. I’m strongly inclined towards the psychosocial view of the phenomenon, which states that it’s an internal, psychological event which uses the imagery and narratives of the wider culture. Thus, while once encounters with the supernatural/ cosmic took the form of the fairies, angels or demons, as society has become more scientific and secular so the experience now has the imagery of aliens and spacecraft. However, John Keel believed that there was a real force outside of our perceptions behind both the fairy and UFO phenomena, which might be using them as a control system for us. See his UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse and Disneyland of the Gods.

Even if the book and its narrative have absolutely no connection to the development of the UFO phenomenon – I doubt outside of a few SF aficionados and literature experts many people have heard of the book, let alone the people who actually witness UFOs – it is a fascinating example of how surprisingly modern the writers of past centuries were in their speculations about space and the inhabitants of other worlds.