10 April 2014

Pesky reptoids in film and TV

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers 

A visitor's true form is exposed in the original V miniseries.
 
In 1956 cinemagoers were scared witless at the drive-in by a stealthy little sci-fi flick called Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which aliens replace humans with ‘pod people’ – duplicates superficially identical to the original victim, but which are utterly devoid of individuality or emotion. The movie would be memorably remade in 1978 by Philip Kaufman with Donald Sutherland in the lead role, before being lamentably ‘re-booted’ by Oliver Hirschbiegel in 2007 as the Nicole Kidman vehicle The Invasion. Body-snatching aliens have appeared in many other film and TV narratives, including, most notably, Life Force (1985); The Hunted (1988); The Faculty (1998); Dark Skies (1996-97); Invasion (2005); and, more recently, The Host (2013), based on the Stephanie Meyer book in which alien entities called “Souls” silently conquer Earth by occupying the bodies of its inhabitants.

The central conceit of all these ‘body snatcher’ stories – that the human will (and even the soul) can be invisibly hijacked by a malevolent alien power – is one that has become increasingly popular in recent years within the most paranoid factions of the UFO/conspiracy community. British TV-sports-presenter-turned-conspiracy-icon David Icke has been chiefly responsible for the popularization of the idea that many of our world leaders secretly are lizard-people from outer space. Icke’s massively popular books and lectures posit that the world as we know it is a hologram designed and maintained by a race of inter-dimensional reptilian beings – known to ancient Mesopotamian cultures as the ‘Annunaki’ – who feed not only on human flesh, but off the suffering of the human soul. According to Icke, many prominent figures of the global elite are descended from reptilian bloodlines and are working in secret to enslave humanity. In his development of these theories throughout the 1990s, Icke borrowed liberally from Ancient Astronaut proponent Zecharia Sitchin, who first made the theoretical connection between the Annunaki and extraterrestrials in his 1976 book The 12th Planet.
 
 
 

But while Icke’s premise may be rooted in old-school Ancient Astronaut theory, the finer details of his elaborate narrative seem at least partially indebted to Hollywood entertainment. Some 16 years prior to Icke’s first book on the ‘reptoid’ agenda in 1999 (The Biggest Secret), the television mini-series V (1983–1984) was spinning its own compelling yarn about flesh-eating reptilian aliens who disguise themselves as humans and exert their influence on our society and politics. Indeed, it is almost impossible to contemplate reptilian aliens today without immediately recalling iconic imagery from the TV show that first thrust these pesky lizard folk into our popular culture. The 2009 V ‘reboot’ explored similar themes to the original, but this time, ironically, seemed to owe more to Icke’s by-now fully-developed reptilian lore, with the show’s alien ‘Visitors’ craving not only human flesh, but the human soul itself. Talk about a feedback loop.
 
 
 

More than a decade before Icke embarked on his lizard-bashing crusade, John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) had already captured lightning in a bottle for the conspiracy community as it tapped into and helped shape prevailing ideas about evil extraterrestrials colluding with human elites – ideas already sown into our sub-cultural fabric through the original V television series.

Based on Ray Nelson’s 1963 short story Eight O’clock in the Morning, They Live depicted a blue collar drifter (played by Roddy Piper) who finds a pair of sunglasses that allows him to see the stark reality of corporate America, where shops are covered with subliminal signs that say “Submit,” “Stay Asleep,” and “Do Not Question Authority.” The world is being secretly run in this Orwellian fashion by malevolent, skeletal-faced aliens who are allied with the US establishment – the human elite having been promised tickets off-world when Doomsday arrives.

Carpenter pulled no punches in describing his film’s politics. “I looked at the country and thought we were in really deep trouble. This seems like fascism to me, the rise of the fundamentalist right and the kind of mind control they’re putting out, the kind of presidency Reagan has had. We haven’t got a chance.”

Unfortunately for Carpenter, his film’s searing political vision may have played a key role in its undoing at the box-office. They Live was pulled just two weeks after its November 4, 1988 release date. While Carpenter blamed audiences who “don't want to be enlightened,” co-star Keith David had a more conspiratorial take on the film’s failure: “not that anybody’s being paranoid,” said the actor, “but it was interesting that They Live was number one at the box office... and suddenly you couldn’t see it anywhere – it was, like, snatched.” Proof, if proof was needed, that the reptoids’ dastardly influence extends even into Hollywood.

Regardless of their cultural provenance, the reptilians have clawed their way deep into the modern conspiratorial psyche, and they show no sign of leaving – a comforting thought, no doubt, for cigar-chomping Hollywood producers and ex-sports presenters alike.
 
Showing us what she's made of: Morena Baccarin as the alien leader Anna in the 2009 reboot of V.
 

6 comments:

  1. Don't forget the episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" titled "The Sentry," which deals with bipedal reptiles invading secret underground bases and installations.

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    1. Thanks for the reminder, Nick! I did forget about that one, and it's a good one! From 1975 -- before the reptoids were a twinkle in David Icke's eye. I can think of a few other examples of evil lizard men on the big and small screen prior to 'V', but few that have so clearly influenced modern reptilian conspiracy lore.

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    2. > "The Sentry," which deals with bipedal reptiles invading secret underground bases and installations

      I just watched that a couple weeks ago. It was actually humans who tunneled in and disturbed the reptoid's nest. Then it rampaged around a privately held underground data storage facility looking for its eggs.

      I wouldn't normally be so pedantic, Nick, except your memory seems to adhere more to conspiracy tropes than the actual plot. I don't want anyone thinking the episode might have influenced later conspiracy myths -- especially since Kolchak was cancelled after the airing of that episode. (They were too close to the truth! Etc.)

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    3. Thanks for the clarification, Terry.

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  2. As a child of the 80's, V had a huge impact in my impressionable psyche. That scene when Diana opened her mouth to gobble that poor rodent will forever be seared in my head --and may ALSO account for my shyness with brunettes :P

    What I liked about V as a concept, is that it reminds me a lot of the Conquest of Mexico, in that the invaders are following a main directive, yet they are *also* driven by their own personal ambitions & engage in constant power struggle with each other. Diana is like a female version of Pedro de Alvarado, the violent Spanish captain who had an insatiable lust for gold, and almost caused the utter failure of Cortés's enterprise.

    As for They Live, what else can be said? The movie is a masterpiece, and I do believe it had a greater impact in our current zeitgeist than most of us give it credit for.

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