V for Veritas: Aliens on the Airwaves

Ever since the creation of the cathode ray tube in 1931 there has been an earthly invasion by aliens into our living rooms.  Prior to that, thanks to the radio we heard global wars of all worlds broadcast into our living rooms by Marconi’s miracle of invention, radio.  The very thought of an alien race visiting Earth brought in a new breed of beings whose limits were confined only by the limits of imagination.  But art imitates life, and vice-versa.

It’s no mystery that the public’s interest of the paranormal was piqued with the 90s’ groundbreaking series ‘The X-Files,’ which saw federal agents of the US government tracking and chasing down paranormal phenomena led by a string of luck and the highly obsessive motivation of agent Fox Mulder.  Rather than tracking drug cartels and organized crime syndicates, the agents were pitted against the supernatural and a skeptical public.

The success of the show was largely due to the fact that X-Files creator Chris Carter was himself an avid UFO enthusiast and researcher into all things paranormal and Fortean.  This was a clear case of art imitating life, as the aliens in the show were largely taken directly from the paranormal community.  Of course the actual conspiracies in the overarching plot, while often mimicking the tones of real life were largely fabricated or based on dubious research.  Still, it was an iconic show whose tag line, “I want to believe” became a cultural icon for what much of the public felt about the UFO phenomena.

But The X-Files were not the only show where Aliens terrorized a general population.  Another show that had a particular impact on the subcultures of the west was known simply as “V.”  Created in the 1980’s, it followed the chronicles of an alien race that came to Earth and essentially moved itself into place establishing a fascistic government complete with alien military police, high technology, and an oppressive atmosphere toward humans.

Of course while the aliens were kind of pushy, the governments of the world put up with them thanks to their superior technology.  Without giving too many spoilers about the 1980’s television show, it turns out (much to the surprise of everyone but the viewer) the aliens were actually evil.  Interestingly, soon after insiders started telling stories of the real “secret” behind the alien agenda.  It was an incredible story of alien infection, deception, and gradual conquering by an insurgent alien race.  Of course this was very similar to the 1980’s show “V,” even down to descriptions of the aliens themselves.  It’s worth noting, of course, that this wasn’t the majority of the UFO community, but rather a small even separate one.  The question becomes, was the show’s message art imitating life, or life imitating art?

And now the show “V” has returned, and it seems to have received a face-lift to mimic the UFO community even more than before.  It appears several shows have worked to acclimate humanity for the event of alien interactions of all sorts.  From the helpful friend who carries with him powerful and even dangerous technology of the original 1950‘s “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” to the sadistic brainy aliens of the “Mars Attacks” trading card series, we have been guided emotionally and intellectually through many “What-if” scenarios by television and movies.  Let’s hope for the friendly playful ETs Steven Spielberg brought us, and not the terrifying monsters of our worst nightmares.