“Aliens are real. There really was an alien crash landing in 1947 near the Roswell Army Air Field, and the United States Government really did cover it up.”
These are the claims that were recently being made by a former CIA operative named Chase Brandon; claims which are of course, entirely fictional. He asserted that he came across secret documents and photographs in a oddly placed cardboard box during a visit to a public CIA library. The infamous Roswell Incident that he is speaking off has long ago been debunked as the recovery of a Mogul balloon, and putting aside the menagerie of pop-culture traditions; sci-fi movies, conspiracy theories, and other such nonsense, the case is relatively closed.
So what on Earth (and I assure you, it is on Earth), made him come forward with these outlandish claims?
Well, as you will see if you visit the charlatan’s new website, there is a huge ‘Buy the Book‘ banner in the centre of the page, and ah! the plot thickens. Chase Brandon, a former CIA liaison with the Holywood film industry (bit of a giveaway right there) sought to cash in on his career by using his position as the means to substantiate an utterly bogus conspiracy story, in order to shift more copies of his tediously banal book, which as you may have guessed, is about an alien crash landing, and the ensuing governmental conspiracy that takes hold when the incident is covered up.
In writing this, I’m aware that I’m doing what Mr Brandon wants by talking about his claims, and giving him more (albeit only a tiny bit more) media coverage. However, I think that the key element of this story is something that needs to be brought to people’s attention more and more these days; and that is the apparently never ending capacity for people to believe what they hear without thinking, and the apparently never ending capacity for the arrogant to take advantage of the naive for their own selfish ends.
We see it so often, in ways that we’ve grown so accustomed to, that we don’t even think of it as what it is. From deodorant adverts that show women literally throwing themselves at men who spray their underarms with Lynx, to happy customers having a mid-shower orgasm when they use Herbal Essences shampoo; ninety nine percent of our advertising market seems to be based on lies, exaggerations, and hyperboles. Truth be told, I’d be more inclined to buy a drink if an advert came on and a random person just had a sip of it, and said “You know what, that’s actually pretty good.” than if I were told that Red Bull would give me wings, or that having a Pepsi Max would trnasform me into a rocket-skating, sky-diving, parkour expert.
However, this does seem to be ‘the nature of the beast‘ in today’s market. Advertising has become half the battle, and when you’re putting something out that can’t traditionally be framed in any new way, it tends to lead to wildly irrelevant and expensive commercial ‘movies’ instead; for example, the absolutely mad little films we see before being told to buy a new fragrance or perfume. So, this leads to the question of how, in a world of international online shopping and rampant consumerism, one sets their product apart from the oceans of tat that flood our shelves.
Marketing has been referred to as the newest art form in recent times. It’s become more about managing to sell the product, than the product itself. New films like The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man have relied heavily on ‘viral marketing‘ campaigns. Fake internet sites, real world scavenger hunts, and interactive hype have become tools of promotion; so conjuring falsified stories like Mr Brandon has done is really only one step further, and not overly dissimilar to the marketing of The Blair Witch Project, that so many people believed was real. However in Chase Brandon’s case, disregarding the actual story or the flimsy pretence upon which it sat, it’s enough that he was willing to try and confirm the simple existence of aliens; the single most significant discovery in human history, without realising that perhaps that announcement was a bit too big for a bit of transient publicity. It’s tantamount to if we were to have discovered that the moon landing really was a hoax, as we seen Neil Armstrong taking those first iconic steps on the surface (coincidentally, exactly 44 years ago to the day, as I write this), before the camera panned over to a giant mock McDonald’s, after which Neil could be heard yelling “Always there when you get the craving!”
I suppose the destination of my proverbial train of thought is to wonder just where it will all end. Will we have sponsored serial killers to advertise new slasher movies, energy drink wells installed amidst impoverished African villages, or perhaps entire countries renamed after the corporations that will own them? Coca-Cola presents: Africa!
As annoyed as I am at the irresponsible, deceitful way that these arrogant advertisers try to lure in the masses, I guess I’m more annoyed at the masses themselves; the people who take everything at face value, the people who respond to emails from ‘the bank‘ asking them to send in all their details so that the bank can ‘check something‘ or ‘fix an error‘, the people who must repost a chain letter to ten people before midnight to prevent their dog being killed by ghosts, and the same people who will no doubt purchase Chase Brandon’s book because they think it holds ‘the truth‘ about life from other worlds.
People need to think more, and to think for themselves. They need to judge; analyse, read between the lines, see through the cracks, peek into the keyhole and discern the gap between what they’re being told, and what they should believe. I don’t condone or compliment paranoia and mistrust, nor do I claim to possess a superior level of insight than anyone else, I simply know enough to wish that people would take all that they’ve been given, and weigh it against their own thoughts and views before deciding what to believe. Even conventionally stupid people have the capacity for rationality and intelligence. You’re only as ignorant as you allow yourself to be. You can stand up to the liars and the charlatans and the forgers and function according to what you know, and not what you’re told. You can live in a manner that makes sense to you, and not just breeze along to the machinations of those who seek to influence and coerce your decisions.
And look at that; I made it through that whole final paragraph without once mentioning religion.