As a young lad, I had a phase where I would watch the Discovery Channel almost exclusively. The reason for this was that as long as I was watching Discovery, or any other one of those vaguely educational networks, my parents would pass by and, noting that I was watching one of these stations, shrug and think “at least he’s learning” rather than tell me to turn off the TV and go outside. To my delight, most of the shows were not in the least bit didactic and were all pretty much about one of two general themes: sharks and other violent creatures, or aliens and other mysterious beings.
My favorite shows, however, were the alien ones. In comparison, the shows about aliens offer a strangely literal example of what it means to truly “jump the shark.” One could argue, after all, that shows about shark attacks are at least somewhat scientific. Biology is a real subject- one that kids even study in schools. Alien shows, however, seemed pretty much as far from science as could possibly be maintained while still technically being educational. Ufology and cryptozoology, of course, have yet to be included into grade school curriculums, but they do end in “ology,” which makes about anything sound credible.
Back then I wanted so badly to believe in crop circles, mysterious cow executions, and extraterrestrial abductions, but even more so I wanted to believe there were other, more powerful beings out there to be afraid of. Placing one’s fears somewhere “out there,” after all, is a convenient way of brushing them aside. Since watching a marathon of Ancient Aliens, however, I have concluded that there is much to fear, but that it comes from a place all too near and familiar.