Roswell: from the media case to Pop Culture

Roswell: from the media case to Pop Culture


Although space and life beyond our planet have always fascinated mankind, 1947 is certainly the year in which the existence of flying saucers and extraterrestrials is affirmed, at least according to fans of the genre. More precisely, July 2, 1947 is marked as the most important date for those who believe in aliens, thanks to the Roswell incident. But what really happened, just over seventy years ago?

The facts that really happened - or maybe not?

Although there had been other sightings before July, the Roswell incident is the incident that everyone remembers the most, due to the media impact it encountered. The first to report the incident was the Roswell Daily Record, which with a decidedly captivating title announced that the RAAF (Roswell Army Air Field) had recovered the remains of an unidentified flying object on a ranch in Chaves County, a hundred kilometers north-west of Roswell.

An unequivocal title, whose denial by the Air Force, however, was not long in coming. The next day, in fact, with a press release in the Fort Worth Morning Star - Telegram it was specified that the remains recovered by the military personnel of the camp were those of a meteorological balloon, attaching several photos of Major Irving Newton who showed some pieces. To date, we know that the remains found actually belonged to a ray wind balloon, used at high altitude to measure the direction and speed of the winds, a method then unknown by the military at the Roswell base.

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This led to interest not only other scholars and enthusiasts of the accident, but the same Congress of the United States of America, which - with the Government Accountability Office investigative section - initiated investigations culminating in two reports. The first came out in 1995 and was called The Roswell Report: Fact versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. This report focused on the materials recovered in 1947, concluding that they were debris from a secret government program - called the Mogul Project - which involved the use of microphones and balloons at high altitudes to detect sound waves generated by Soviet missiles or from tests of nuclear explosions in the atmosphere.

The second report was published in 1997 and called The Roswell Report: Case Closed. This centered its research on what was instead found in the Plain of San Agustin. According to the research, the alleged alien bodies recovered were actually anthropomorphic mannequins used in military programs such as Project High Dive conducted in 1950. According to the Government Accountability Office it was due to the psychological effects of the story on people that the events were confused. temporal, coming to hypothesize the discovery of alien bodies in 1947.

Aliens and teen drama

There have been several films and documentaries about the Roswell incident, but teens of the 1990s and 2000s will undoubtedly remember the Roswell series, based on Melinda Metz's children's novels. The four seasons of the serial saw as protagonists a group of teenagers from New Mexico, who, due to a fatal accident, discover the existence of three aliens who have lived in Roswell since 1947. Without the memories of their past life and without knowing how to do it. to return home, the three extraterrestrials conceal their identity from other humans, also helped by their three teenage friends.

Who are MiBs - Men in Black

The alleged aliens of the Roswell incident weren't the only ones influencing pop culture. As already mentioned, soldiers from the Roswell base also arrived at the scene of the incident, who appearing in civilian clothes in the homes of various witnesses, did nothing but feed the suspicions behind a conspiracy theory. Defined as Men in Black, or Men in Black because of the suit they wear, they are said to be agents of the government of the United States of America in charge of frightening and silencing all witnesses to UFO sightings. According to another theory that calls them Darks, they are actually aliens whose purpose is to eliminate all traces of alien presence on Earth.

From speculations to comics ...

The popularity of these mysterious men did nothing but fuel the theories around the sightings, even going so far as to become, in the 90s, the protagonists of a comic series. The agents of Lowell Cunningham's The Men in Black are part of a secret organization that must stop all paranormal and extraterrestrial activity, as well as having to keep the population in the dark about the existence of aliens, mutants and demons. The comic follows the stories of the three agents called Zetas, Jay and Kay who, in order to carry out their missions, are authorized to proceed by any means possible, including murder. Agent Ecks, once he discovers the truth behind the Men in Black, decides to escape, thus becoming a danger to the organization itself that persecutes him to eliminate him.

... and al film

Although inspired by the work of Cunningham, the plot of the 1997 film Men in Black differs substantially. The most striking is certainly that the agents of film adaptation acted with the sole purpose of keeping the population in the dark about the existence of aliens on Earth, without however injuring or eliminating any form of life. For this reason, as many remember, agents J and K are equipped with a device that with a flash is able to erase part of the memory of the viewer. Another fundamental difference is certainly the character of J: in the comic he is Caucasian while in the film he is played by Will Smith, who thanks to Men in Black has managed to consolidate his international fame.

The truth is out there

Among the various productions influenced, certainly cannot miss the mention of The X-Files, the science fiction series that made the history of television, quickly becoming a cult for fans of the genre. Aired for nine seasons between the 1990s and 2000s, the series followed the adventures of two FBI agents, Mulder and Scully, who centered their investigations on paranormal events, including, among other things, alien, legendary creatures and genetic mutations. Chris Carter, the creator of The X-Files, after spending nearly seven years as a screenwriter for Walt Disney Studios, was tired of working on comedies and decided to seize the opportunity to produce a new series for FOX. After rejecting the proposed first draft, the network entrusted him with the script for the pilot.

"Mulder and Scully have come right out of my head. They are equal parts of my desire to believe in something and my inability to believe in something. My skepticism and my faith. And the writing of the characters was very easy for me ... I think those characters and those voices were born from this dualism. "

Given the success of the first seasons, in 1998 Carter decided to try to expand his audience by turning to that of the big screen. In the break between the fourth and fifth season, they then began shooting the first X-Files film, also known by the alternative title Fight the Future. His intention was to create a film that was understandable even to those who did not follow the series, but taking the finale of the fourth season as a starting point.

“The X-Files creates its own universe, where the normal and the paranormal can coexist, although not always serenely. (...) The X-Files broke new ground in science fiction television, with a relative de-emphasis of gimmicks such as special effects in favor of a particular focus on the bigger questions about the spiritual nature of science and humanity. "

After the series ended in 2002, Chris Carter expressed his desire to continue the saga, but no longer on the small screen, but as self-closing films without the need to further develop the narrative of the series. For this reason, in 2008, the second film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe It, was released. The plot leaves aside the existence of aliens, to focus more on the paranormal and psychic visions, but due to the sub-expectations and uncertain reviews, the project to create other films was abandoned. The series then returned to the small screen with the last two seasons, but despite the appreciation of fans of the genre, it was not as successful as the first part of the serial.

Indiana Jones and the memorabilia of the Area 51

Even the most famous archaeologist in cinema has not escaped the influence of Roswell and his alleged aliens. In the fourth chapter of the saga, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the professor makes a clear reference to the Roswell incident: questioned by the FBI about his recent "visit" to Hangar 51, he will talk about the "aviation fiasco del '47 “, revealing his involvement in the examination of debris and some mutilated remains found in the desert.

But the film's ufological influences don't stop there. The entire plot of the film is based on a theory that derives from a Mayan legend, according to which there are 13 crystal skulls that contain all human knowledge. If aligned correctly, they will save the whole of humanity from the end of the world.

Although there is no trace of this alleged Mayan legend in the artifacts known to man, the film explores this story intertwining it with that of El Dorado as well. , the legendary place filled with gold, precious stones and ancient esoteric knowledge. Indiana Jones is then forced to help the Soviets find the temple where the other twelve skulls are located to ensure safety for himself, his old flame Marion and their son Mutt.

Alien invasions and independence

Speaking of Area 51 and Roswell, we certainly cannot leave aside Independence Day, the 1996 film by Roland Emmerich. The plot focuses on the alien invasion taking place in the two days before American Independence Day. Extraterrestrial spacecraft are positioned over the most populous cities in the world and through satellites block communications in order to attack humanity and exterminate it.

During the film, the theory put forward by Stanton Friedman and William is resumed. Moore in their book The Roswell Incident, according to which alien remains were also discovered in 1947. In Independence Day it is added that experiments would be carried out on corpses, of which even the American President himself was unaware.

In addition to shooting real events, the film also deals with another theory: aliens they would be creatures much more advanced than us technologically and they would also be able to mingle with each other and thus go unnoticed, taking possession of the body of some unfortunate person.

And you, can you believe it?

After seeing only some of the most famous influences of the Roswell incident, we can say that this media case has given rise to its own science fiction narrative, even coming to have some dedicated comicons, such as WonderCon or BayCon, two of the most old American comics like that. In these fairs that deal with series and films of the genre, you can see a large number of sci-fiction enthusiasts who express their enthusiasm also thanks to cosplay.

Not only cinematic narratives, however: also the scientific community always more leaning towards the exploration of space, it cannot help but ask itself questions about the existence of humans and other beings besides us in the Universe. We can only hope, therefore, that whoever is in Space, is friendly and unwilling to conquer the Earth, as in the most catastrophic of sci-fi films.

If you want to deepen the mysteries of Roswell we recommend reading the volume The Day After Roswell

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