Thursday 19 May 2011

Make-up of the Image Nation

A couple of days ago, both Terry Gross of NPR and Jon Stewart of The Daily Show had a guest by the name of Annie Jacobsen, an author plugging her book on Area 51.

The book includes tales of American nuclear testing during the Cold War, culled from declassified documents, all of which had "Area 51" blacked out.

How, then, does she know it's called Area 51?

That leads to the "creepy part" that Stewart drooled over without a hint of skepticism. But before I give you the money shot, I should point out that the rest of the story relies on her "only anonymous source", a person in whom she placed her trust because they had "worked together for eighteen months".

I'm sure at this point one might wonder whether or not her source could be believed. Allow me to point out that this woman, who somehow managed to get these two pretty good promotional spots in one day, had already once tried to pass off as non-fiction what was to turn out to be either a tale of her own questionable judgment, or simply her penchant for spinning yarns. On the face of things, the nature of her source is irrelevant.

First, the spoiler
According to her trustworthy turncoat, a former reverse-engineer-er in the employ of (redacted), a flying saucer really did crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. But the source didn't learn about the specifics until the parts from the wreckage, including its passengers, were moved from Wright Patterson AFB to the secret location in Nevada in - that's right, you guessed it - 1951.

The aircraft, it turns out, was built by a pair of brothers, scientists of Nazi extraction. It seems that while the US was recruiting the likes of Werner von Braun and other choice beige-shirts, the Ruskies were busy getting some of their own.

Apparently Joseph Stalin was inspired by Orson Wells' famous radio broadcast which had been mistaken for a real world alien invasion by forefathers of The Jersey Shore; the Soviet secretary wanted to stage a repeat performance, complete with props this time. He had his ship. All he needed now was a crew.

Enter stage-right, Josef Mengele.
Stalin: Make me alien pilots out of children!
Mengele: Out from ze cheeldrens! I'm back, baby!

Add one part genetics and a liter of cosmetic surgery and Fahrvergnügen!

The kicker is, according to the source (according to the author (according to the book (according to Jon Stewart and Terry Gross))), this all had to remain a secret because the Americans decided that the whole creating fake aliens thing was a path worth pursuing.

Now, the real spoiler
Who is Annie Jacobsen, and why should Terry Gross or Jon Stewart care?

Long version: Read the links. Short version: a woman with access to media who in 2004 wrote all about her fright-flight from Detroit to LA with a bunch a Syrian terrorists.

She detailed how they, one after the other, took sinister, clandestine trips to the lavatory and made ostentatiously secret hand signals when returning to their seats. What she didn't detail was that the air marshals on the flight feared that Jacobsen's freaking out might have been her attempt to get them, the marshals, to blow their cover.

Later - when again at the merciful safety of her keyboard - she wondered whether a few might have to have their rights suspended in order to keep the many safe. What she didn't wonder was whether the passengers in question were able to make their connecting flight to Vegas after being interrogated and cleared by the FBI in LA.

What she managed to convince herself (according to her article in now defunct womenswallstreet.com) was that those fourteen shifty men were doing a dress rehearsal for 9/11 II. What she didn't find convincing was that their instrument cases contained instruments that they'd be playing that very evening.

Who is Annie Jacobsen, and why should Terry Gross or Jon Stewart care? Occam's Razor demands that they shouldn't care. They're tools for their employers. Simple as that.

Viacom does a solid for Little, Brown & Co (or Hatchette Book Group or Time Warner Book Group or whatever), and the favor will be returned later cuz it's all good for the economy.

But if Gross & Stewart aren't up on their conspiracy theory, how the hell are they gonna know that this isn't just a new spin on an old tale? If the hosts of this gargantuan rotating round-table were to express the slightest curiosity, or bothered to google now and then, they'd know that it wasn't Mengele, but the Japs, man! And it wasn't just any ordinary kids, but kids with progeria. Wicked!

Guess that's too gross for Terry Gross, and too creepy for tone-it-down Jon. (Not to mention that any reference to the even dodgier source material might lead their audience to question what they are being fed.)

Meanwhile, all the other, um, formerly terrestrial networks and cable outlets, as well as news publications-a-plenty are taking a crack at Annie Jacobsen. Not that anyone is noting her little terror tale from the nascent nine-eleven era or that her current conspiracy exposé is plagiarized from something nobody took seriously when it was published by Paraview just a few years ago. Think this garners a mention in The Daily Beast?

Like I said before: On the face of it, the nature of her source is irrelevant.