Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Genuine Article

Flying saucer occupants
More than a decade ago I chanced upon an old and forgotten Canadian telefilm called Zero Hour that was playing on Turner Classic Movies. The ZAZ filmmaking team had made the movie Airplane! by using this old movie's screenplay as a template for their spoof. They just took the script and added a mountain of jokes. And due to my familiarity with the spoof, I found watching Zero Hour to be both hilarious and peculiar. I had seen it before, and yet this was the original and genuine article that I never even knew existed.

Reading Flying Saucer Occupants felt like a similar experience to the one I described above. This is a completely earnest 'non-fiction' book focusing on eyewitness accounts of aliens supposedly associated with UFOs. It is written by a well-meaning husband and wife team of "UFO researchers" who "like" to put "odd" "quotation marks" around various words for oftentimes inexplicable reasons.

There is no version of this book with jokes added, though I'm quite tempted to write it. But given the endless numbers of parodies and spoofs of belief in Flying Saucers and alien abductions that now exist, perhaps its unnecessary. Once The Simpsons and South Park have covered this ground so thoroughly, is there anything left to goof on? That's probably why I felt like I was reading material ripe for satire - because the whole body of literature that this book is a part of is known to me mainly through satire, parody and spoof.

There are moments when my heart almost ached for how sincere and serious these folks are about the phenomenally silly work they are doing. They write so quaintly about alien kissing (referring to it as osculation, natch, because they are true nerds deep down) and so gingerly about alien sex, you really have to read it to believe it.

On the other hand, though they try as hard as they can to be progressive on the subject of race, there are some real howlers on that score. Like the couple from New Hampshire that discover under hypnotherapy that they were abducted by aliens. Early on, the authors comment that it is an interracial couple (not that there's anything wrong with that, they add in slightly different words). Near the end of the chapter, they speculate that the couple was abducted because the aliens were curious about how they were of different races. Really. And in the conclusory chapter, they muse that the wildly differing descriptions of aliens by different eyewitness may be explained by different alien races, adding in a parenthetical that "we have three different [races] here on earth." Ï cringed and I cringed, but I read on to the very last page.

A warning in case you want to seek out this book for yourself: while many parts of it fall under the category of 'wonderful curiosity' just as I've described here, much of the book is taken up by endless catalogues of alien encounters that become very boring and drab as they accrete. I guess that's why I've got to write to spoof version, to mine the comedy out of the big hunk of wasted tree matter that is Flying Saucer Occupants.