There’s virtually no doubt that people go on television regularly and tell falsehoods that millions believe. But what if the lie was so big, the very fate of the planet would be called into question? Such was the case with Alternative 3, a film by director Christopher Miles that competed to take on even Orson Welles’ infamous War of the Worlds Broadcast. And even today some are suspicious of the circumstances around Alternative 3’s release. And there are those who suggest the film is more fact than its producers are willing to believe.
It has been cited since its creation in 1977 as a test on the masses to see how they would largely react to such a scenario. But even while the film was being broadcast that fateful year, many would already be able to pick out its fictional nature. And yet even now years later it is still proposed as a real experiment designed to once again test the public on their reaction to the announcement of alien life on Mars and the possibility that the world may be ending due to irreversible global trends. Man had only just begun his long trek into space, and the landing of astronauts on the moon had inspired a revision in Earth’s drive to visit the stars. But with a complex systems involved in the moon mission still left largely to the realm of secrecy, many still didn’t have an understanding of the limitations involved in contemporary technologies and wondered if a Mars expedition would be coming in the coming months or even years. Of course today we understand such a mission would not have been possible in the 1970s and likely not in the 1980s or 90s. Even today with fears over radiation it is often wondered whether a Mars mission would be possible with the funding such a program would be likely to receive.
And in the days that would follow, the media would cover the release of Alternative 3 with the same vigor and interest normally reserved for major global catastrophes. And perhaps it was not far from the truth. British television had essentially destroyed the future of Earth, revealed that the moon was largely colonized, revealed the existence of alien life on Mars, and suggested the United States and Russia were working together on a joint project for the survival of humanity all in a single broadcast. Though it admitted in the credits that the entire broadcast had been fictional, many people didn’t read these credits.
Interestingly enough, all of the conspiracies outlined in Alternative 3 are alive even today. Between the fate of the Earth, a Martian life cover-up, the idea of moon bases, and even joint projects with the greatest minds in the world this classic film seems to have tapped into the up and coming conspiracies to be told for the next forty years and talk about them in a candid way you would expect to hear on the evening news.
So what does the Alternative 3 incident tell us about ourselves? Perhaps the most obvious bit of information we can derive from this hoax is how easy it is even today for us all to be fooled. And that goes for either school of thought regarding the Alternative 3 conspiracy.