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Government Censorship - Protecting You From Reality
A major new article on the subject on government manipulation of UFO-themed media products is accessible from today as an advance publication for the Spring 2011 issue of 49th Parallel - a journal of North American Studies jointly run through the UK universities of Birmingham and Nottingham.
This is one of only a small handful of articles dealing with UFOs and entertainment-media-control ever to have been published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, and is all the more unusual in that it treats UFOs not as a mere cultural abstraction, but as a real, physical phenomenon of considerable concern to officialdom.
Of particular interest in this piece are revelations from the director of Disney's 2009 movie Race to Witch Mountain concerning covert and seemingly high-level CIA involvement in said production.
The article - co-authored by myself and Matthew Alford - is entitled:
A History of Government Management of UFO Perceptions through Film and Television
Robbie Graham - University of Bristol* & Matthew Alford - University of Bath†
On 22 January 1958, the popular CBS television show Armstrong Circle Theatre presented an entire programme dedicated to the subject of unidentified flying objects entitled: “UFO: Enigma of the Skies.” Among the high-profile experts invited to speak on the show, retired US Navy Major Donald Keyhoe – director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) – was notable for his outspoken views on government secrecy surrounding the UFO phenomenon. Arguing against UFO reality on the programme were astronomer and vehement UFO sceptic Donald Menzel and Air Force representative Col. Spencer Whedon of the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC). Their task should have been an easy one as the show’s content had been scripted in advance by CBS in conjunction with the US Air Force, and all guests – especially Keyhoe – had been instructed to read their preapproved material from a teleprompter.
When it came time for Keyhoe to speak, in frustration he veered from his script and stated to the nation: “And now I’m going to reveal something that has never been disclosed before...”1 The rest of his announcement went unheard by television viewers: unbeknownst to Keyhoe, his microphone had been cut by the station. Keyhoe continued:
For the last six months, we have been working with a congressional committee investigating official secrecy about UFOs. If all the evidence we have given this committee is made public in open hearings, it will absolutely prove that the UFOs are real machines under intelligent control.
After the show, CBS was inundated with calls and letters from viewers demanding to know why Keyhoe’s audio had been cut: “Call it what you like,” wrote one viewer, “but it appeared to be a very shocking display of censorship; and certainly offensive to the intelligence of the American public...” Nine days later, CBS admitted it had been subject to official censorship. In a letter to a disgruntled viewer January, 1958, CBS director of editing, Herbert A. Carlborg, stated:
This program had been carefully cleared for security reasons. Therefore, it was the responsibility of this network to insure [sic] performance in accordance with pre-determined security standards. Any indication that there would be a deviation might lead to statements that neither this network nor the individuals on the program were authorized to release. As will be evidenced in this essay, the US government’s historical efforts to censor UFO-related media products extend considerably further than the Keyhoe incident and have noticeably affected the content of numerous films and TV products over a six-decade time span.
Read More Here - http://www.49thparallel.bham.ac.uk/back/issue25/Graham-and-Alford.pdf
Link - http://www.nicap.org/jufoh/JournalUFOHistoryVol1No6.pdf
You should read the entire article and I found these quotes to be particularly interesting:
(Images Added For Context)
In 1969, the US closed Project Blue Book, its systematic study of UFOs, concluding that these sightings did not represent a threat to national security nor technological developments or principles beyond the range of modern scientific knowledge. Yet the government-media model of non-cooperation and script manipulation remained generally true into the 1970s and beyond. In 1976, several arms of the government refused to cooperate on Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), his classic blockbuster imagining alien contact with humans.
Scene from: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Major Sidney Shaw in the National Guard Bureau in Washington wrote to Columbia Pictures:
We have reviewed the script and believe it would be inappropriate for the Air Force or National Guard Bureau to support the production. In 1969 the USAF completed a study which concluded there is no evidence concerning the existence of UFOs. We have not been involved in UFOs since that study other than answering queries about the study. The proposed film leaves the distinct impression that UFOs, in fact, do exist. It also involves the government and military in a big cover up of the existence of UFOs. These two points are counter to Air Force and Department of Defense policy and make support to the production inappropriate.
NASA also rejected the chance to cooperate with Close Encounters, even though the space agency had been known for being, “more flexible, sometimes to the breaking point” – in Suid’s words – over its relative willingness to cooperate with films that showed them in an unflattering light, including productions like Marooned (1969) and even the NASA conspiracy movie Capricorn One (1977). Suid, however, in his analysis of this case, neglects to mention that not only did NASA refuse cooperation to Spielberg, but that the space agency sought actively to convince the director not to make the film at all.
Scene from: Capricorn One (1977)
In a 1978 interview for the journal Cinema Papers Spielberg said:
I really found my faith [in UFO reality] when I heard that the government was opposed to the film. If NASA took the time to write me a 20 page letter, then I knew there must be something happening. I had wanted cooperation from them, but when they read the script they got very angry and felt that it was a film that would be dangerous.
There was more comprehensive, high-level cooperation from the DoD for the production of one particularly unusual film, though – the documentary, UFOs: Past, Present and Future (1974), which considered the extra-terrestrial hypothesis in a much more serious light. The film’s director, Robert Emenegger, was given unprecedented access to DoD facilities, including the highly sensitive Holloman Air Force Base and the Pentagon itself. “The Secretary of the Air Force [Robert Seamans] gave the order to co-operate,” explained the director, who was granted time with highranking military officers apparently well-versed in UFO-related matters, among them Colonel William Coleman, a former spokesman for Project Blue Book, and Colonel George Weinbrenner, then head of Foreign Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
The film even included a detailed reconstruction of what Emenegger claims the USAF told him was a real extraterrestrial landing at Holloman Air Force Base in 1971, complete with artistic renderings of the alleged aliens.
Scene from: UFOs - It Has Begun (1976)
The USAF even provided Emenegger with a few seconds of footage showing what appeared to be an unusual, bright object descending slowly and vertically over the base. These frames, Emenegger claims, were taken from the “genuine” alien landing footage and officially authorised for use in his completed documentary, which, in line with a 49th Parallel, Vol. 25 (Spring 2011) Graham & Alford ISSN: 1753-5794 (online) 14 recommendation by the USAF, presented the incident as “one that might happen in the future – or perhaps could have happened already.”74 Emenegger claims that he was approached by the USAF to initiate this project, which would be in line with his scholarly interest in propaganda, his history as a Vice President at Grey Advertising, and his personal involvement in the Nixon Campaign to Re-Elect the President (CREEP).75 The film also received support from the Army, the Navy and NASA, with the latter furnishing Emenegger’s production with previously unreleased photographs of what appeared to be UFOs taken in space by Gemini astronauts
Gemini 11 UFOs
The US government has made concerted efforts over the years to manage through entertainment media popular perceptions of UFOs while attempting simultaneously to massage its own public image in relation to the phenomenon. If, though, as the government insists, UFOs are essentially non-existent, why the concern? In 1961, a NASA-commissioned report by the Brookings Institute, “Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs,” warned that an official announcement confirming the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial beings could have disastrous consequences for human civilisation:
Anthropological files contain many examples of societies sure of their place in the universe, which have disintegrated when they had to associate with previously unfamiliar societies espousing different ideas and different life ways; others that survived such an experience usually did so by paying the price of changes in values and attitudes and behavior.
Link - http://www.49thparallel.bham.ac.uk/back/issue25/Graham-and-Alford.pdf
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