Area 51 Editor:
Contributors: Caitlin Jaworski Libby George Rebecca Helme
Contents What’s the Deal?
Who is ControverZine? We are college students writing for college students. Say goodbye to the crazies on the internet preaching that the government is “out to get you!” Controverzine takes the conspiracies you’ve heard time and time again and bring them new life. We’re here to educate the public about U.S. government conspiracy theories from an academic point of view. We’ll tell you what the conspiracies are, how they’ve evolved, and what they say about the society we’re living in. Controverzine is here to evoke curiosity and questions about the world.
The facts, what the government says, and what the theorists believe
Spotlight on Supporters
What a big supporter of the theory says, and a look into why some supporters become figureheads
Harsh measures have been taken in detaining those who trespass
Aliens and invasions as metaphors for human cultural and social behavior
Alien Commercialization The commodification of aliens
What’s the Deal? Danielle Kocher Area 51. The name even sounds secret, doesn’t it? For decades, millions have been exposed to the UFO conspiracy theory that many people actually believe. There are two prominent sides to the controversy: the government and the theorists. Each side has its own story. So, what’s the deal? Mac Brazel Let’s go back to July 1947. We’re in Roswell, New Mexico. Some debris comes crashing to Earth, and this sheep rancher named Mac Brazel finds it. He doesn’t think much of it, so a few days go by before he tells the cops. They, in turn, call in officials from the nearby Roswell Army Airfield.1
Army officials from the airfield show up to examine the evidence. According to the Milwaukee Sentinel, Chief Intelligence Officer of the base Major Jesse Marcel is one of these officials. He observes the markings on the debris, and dubs it to be OUT OF THIS WORLD! Literally. So then, the Public Relations officer on the base issues a news release stating that there had been discovered wreckage of a “flying disc.” The media eats this up. Newspapers upon newspapers reprint the story, reaching audiences worldwide. However, the claims are soon retracted by General Richard Ramey who states that Marcel had gotten confused: the debris was actually that of a weather balloon.
From here, rumors fly. Many people deem the retraction to be fishy. Did Marcel jump to conclusions, eager to announce the discovery of something other-worldly? Was he so easily swayed by unfamiliar markings that the best explanation he could come up with was that aliens crash-landed? Or did the military quickly realize the mass hysteria that such an announcement would cause, and quickly try to cover it up? Although military reports have been issued since which reinforce the notion that it was indeed a balloon and not an extraterrestrial spacecraft, there are people who believe the latter. One of these people is Jesse Marcel Jr, the son of the late Major Marcel. In an ABC interview, he explained that en route back to the base on that night in 1947, his father stopped back home. Marcel Jr. says that his father woke him and his mother up and showed them the debris and its strange markings, convinced it was highly unusual. However, he says that his father came home a few days later and told them never to speak of the incident again, that he was now part of a coverup.2 Jesse Marcel Jr’s account seems pretty basichowever, there are much more intricate theories surrounding the debris, the aliens, and the military. Steven Greer is the founder of Major Marcel Sr. with the debris in question
the Disclosure Project which, according to their website, is “working to fully disclose the facts about UFOs, extraterrestrial intelligence, and classified advanced energy and propulsion systems.” In a book called Are Conspiracy Theories Valid?, he elaborates on what he and the participants of the disclosure project believe: that the U.S. Government has indeed found aliens and is using their technology to take over the world. You’re gonna need a pretty big glass of water to swallow that pill. Greer goes on to describe a false alien attack orchestrated by the government which will manipulate citizens into giving up many of their rights, especially to privacy, out of fear of another attack. He compares this to the September 11th terrorist attacks, except on a much grander scale. Note that this comparison only works if one believes that the government was behind 9/11.3 Let’s turn to what the government’s explanation is for all of this. In that same book, Are Conspiracy Theories Valid?, B.D. Gildenburg Steven M. Greer’s smiling mug maintains that this talk of aliens is nonsense. Gildenburg has spent 35 years working for the government program SkyHook. He says that this was the program which set off balloons that were often mistaken for UFOs, and that their purpose was to spy on the Soviets during the Cold War. Gildenburg stresses that THIS was the government’s big secret, THIS was the reason for all the cover-ups and the hush-hush. And now, since the Soviet Union has fallen apart, he and
other government officials are able to de-classify these programs.4 Following the same Soviet vein, there is another theory being circulated about the events in Roswell. Journalist Annie Jacobsen of L.A. Times notoriety claims in her book Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base that the Soviets indeed had everything to do with the 1947 event- just not the way Gildenburg describes. Jacobsen alleges that the object that crashlanded was not of American but of Soviet descent, straight from Josef Stalin himself. She says that Stalin was inspired by Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938 which caused widespread panic across America. Then, Stalin teamed up with infamous Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele to produce mutated children who would fly to the U.S. and cause panic, just as the radio program did. She maintains that THIS was the crash in Roswell.5 From the government to the theorists, there are an array of beliefs surrounding Area 51 and the existence of UFOs. Where do YOU stand?
and CIA were forming. However, he said they “didn’t know what they were doing,” so President Truman formed a special committee comprised of highly intelligent people from the military to investigate the UFO incident at Roswell. He explains that over time, the committee became so secretive that not even presidents knew of their activity.1
Spotlight on Supporters Danielle Kocher
It’s not too difficult to find believers of the Roswell UFO theory. Some people are driven to this conclusion based on either the media, government distrust, or even science. One such supporter is Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut and sixth man to walk on the moon.
Similar stories, such as a report from the Daily Mail, about Astronaut Edgar Mitchell and his intelligence regarding the activities of Area 51 mention NASA and their reaction to his claims. However, Mitchell maintains that NASA did not brief him and had nothing to do with his investigations of Area 51.2
Astronaut Edgar Mitchell
Mitchell explains in a Discovery interview that since he was a local from the Roswell area and has had considerable experience with space- he’s been to the moon for goodness sakeworkers from Area 51 were inclined to share with him their experiences at Groom Lake. He elaborates that, “Even though the government put real clamps on everybody, it got out anyhow.” In the late 1990s, Mitchell was working with Steven Greer on the Disclosure Project. In an attempt to “get all those opened up,” he went to the Pentagon and had a meeting with the Intelligence Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he says his knowledge from Area 51 workers was confirmed. When asked why he thinks the government doesn’t acknowledge that there is life outside of Earth, he gave a detailed answer explaining that “most people in the government don’t know.” He attributes this to the fact that the government is highly compartmentalized, and in the aftermath of World War II, when the Air Force
So, what does this say about reporters and the general public? Whenever we hear the word “astronaut,” NASA immediately comes to mind. Astronauts have a lifelong affiliation with the organization and nearly everything they do is linked back to it. This was especially the case with Mitchell, since he shares with UFOs and NASA a common denominator: space. The leaders of the Disclosure Project and other proponents of the Roswell UFO theory recognize this, and therefore they employ Mitchell and other astronauts such as Gordon Cooper as figureheads for their cause. People trust astronauts because of their association with outer space, from where aliens come. It doesn’t matter that neither Cooper nor Mitchell worked at Area 51, nor that neither of them witnessed activity there.
Area 51, commonly assumed to be the base of alien and spacecraft research, is forbidden to most people. Without authorization or a badge and gun, Back gate of Area 51 you probably shouldn’t be found lurking past the “WARNING” signs placed around the borders. In response to the massive amount of terror surrounding the Area 51 and what lies behind its borders is the explanation that it is just a base for aircraft and spy technology that is being developed. This seems to be a reasonable explanation as to why a normal person would not be allowed to get too close. However, is it absolutely necessary to go so far for this supposed military base? Recently, a BBC film crew was detained for a significant period of time before being arrested and having all of their equipment taken away. The crew had been filming for a documentary on UFO conspiracy theories, and narrow-mindedly decided to cross the boundary lines set around Area 51, despite knowing that they could spend up to six months in jail for doing so. In a Huffington Post article on the matter, Lee Speigel gives a take on each side regarding the happenings after the group of twelve decided to get too close for comfort. To be more specific, a member of the British crew stated that a guard had told them “‘we could make you disappear and your body will never be found’”. According to the crew, they were then “forced to lie on the ground at gunpoint for hours while law enforcement decided what to do”. After being forced
to lie on the ground, one of the men claimed that they were “searched, had our phones, wallets and IDs taken and the film equipment taken”2 Seems like a bit much for just twelve guys with no weapons. On the other hand, the local sheriff denies these accounts, claiming that the trespassers were “dealt with swiftly”. According to him, the guards that were in the house at the time had known exactly when the crew had crossed over, and immediately called for reinforcements. The police had then presumably arrived within 30 minutes of the call, and the guards did not approach them until the crew had knocked on their door.1 After all was said and done, it can be fairly said that the film crew did commit a crime by trespassing on this land, but they were also, according to the members of the crew, treated with much less dignity than necessary. Due to their arrest was A camera on the premises immediate, and lengthy, which gives the impression of their wrongdoings being much more than just trespassing, which leads one to think that there is much more going on in Area 51 than the they want us to believe.
Today’s Relevance Libby George
At least 49 years prior to Roswell there was mention of aliens, extraterrestrials, and unidentifiable beings from other worlds in literature. But it wasn’t until the Roswell crash site findings that people really started to engage in the belief that we are “not alone in the universe”. In fact, post-Roswell alien interest exploded in such a way that the The aliens of Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story media was able to translate this new obsession into popular content for movies, books, comics, and TV shows. The various space alien stories have resulted in a kind of ingrained cultural taxonomy for defining extraterrestrial visitors.1 The most fascinating aspect about this taxonomy is not that we do have one when we don’t even have physical aliens to observe, but rather what having one anyway says about human behavior. In other words, without actual lifeforms from space to reference, the media must utilize what we do have: human reactions to “the other.” Thus aliens are the media’s representations of humanity. For example, hostile aliens invading the planet and eradicating the human race, like in H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds 2 H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (published 1898 , the earliest
popular use of aliens in media), are a perfect representation of xenophobic humans. Consider the most infamous instance of xenophobia in human history, the Holocaust. During a crippling economic decline in Western Europe, Adolf Hitler was able to associate the cause of peoples’ suffering with the presence of foreigners, thus igniting senseless fear and hatred toward all immigrants that ultimately resulted in the mass genocide of millions of Jews, blacks, Eastern Europeans, and gypsies during the Third Reich’s reign. Now take a look at the film District 9. The oppression and segregation of a group of stranded extraterrestrials in South Africa is a mirror of the oppression and segregation African Americans endured until the Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 19643. In this way, media representations of aliens are a direct social commentary on human behavior, especially when influenced by public policy.
Alien Taxonomy Hostile Aliens This includes aliens that wish to annihilate humanity with or without cause, the ones that want to eat humans, and the ones that pretend to be friendly but really want to eat humans. Xenophobia ◦ ◦
Independence Day War of The Worlds
Fear of invasion of the body ◦ Alien (left) ◦ Invasion of the Body Snatchers ◦ V Friendly Aliens Aliens that wish to help humans, sometimes there are initially lost or wounded, often humans are portrayed as the monsters when paired with friendly aliens (thus sometimes the once friendly alien becomes hostile after being mistreated by humans). E.T. (left), Capax, Superman Indifferent Aliens This centers on the idea that the universe if a vast indifferent place and humans exist are mere specks with in this huge space, so aliens might come along and destroy us, but not because they hate us, simple because we were “in the way”. • Human pettiness and selfishness ◦ The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (left) ◦ Marvin the Martian
Alien Commercialization Becky Helme
The Area 51 conspiracy has done much more for Roswell than make it famous: it has given the town an entire commercial franchise. The idea of extraterrestrial life has gone from a conspiracy to an entire a marketable commodity. Whether or not you believe in the area 51 conspiracy, one thing is certain, our society loves the idea of the extraterrestrial. We’ve written books on them, made movies, played video games and had numerous alien-themed accessories. We love aliens because they are so many questions about them. Each and every interpretation of them is completely different because there is no set alien look or behavior. As humans we have an overwhelming desire to understand the universe. And because aliens are such a mystery, they capture the attention of the masses. For the biggest example of aliens in the media we can look to Hollywood. First is science fiction director Ridley Scott, who brought us the 1979 horror film Alien, taglined, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” The film tells of the crew of a commercial space vehicle heading back to earth when they hear what they think is an SOS call from another planet. Unexpectedly they come in contact with an extraterrestrial lifeform that terrorizes the
crew1. The film was so successful it became the first of a quadrilogy of films along with James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), David Fincher’s Alien3 (1992) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection (1997). But decidedly these films were not enough, so Hollywood gave us Alien vs. Predator, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, and most recently, Prometheus --conceptually serving as the prequel to Aliens. And of course, no movie franchise would be complete without video game spin offs, graphic novels, toys, and specifical feature dvds. But this is only one way aliens have been marketed. Alien films range in genre from horror to children’s cartoons giving us different interpretations of what extraterrestrial interaction may be like. In stark contrast from the Alien quadrilogy is the 1982 family favorite E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial directed by Steven Spielberg3. It is considered a classic tale of friendship that Rotten Tomatoes ranked as the twenty second best, science fiction film of all time, saying a lot since it was beaten out by mostly horror films (Alien ranked at number four)4. And if we are talking about aliens becoming a commercial industry, there is no need to look any further than E.T.- He has his own ride at Universal Studios! That should say enough. We can also look at video games as a prime example. In 2005 Midway released the first-person shooter horror game Area 51. This game is literally an example of the commodifying the conspiracy (the Illuminati is also mentioned multiple times throughout the game description and has sure put a smile on the faces of conspiracy theorists). The game follows the story of a spreading disease created by the sole survivors of the Roswell crash5. Additionally, possessing the title of “top selling video series of all time” is the billion-dollar Halo series6. In the game, players engage in a war against a an alliance of aliens. From this franchise alone, graphic
novels and other licensing products have been developed and have brought its developers a significant amount of money. Even looking at a simpler example, back to the good old days of elementary school with Lisa Frank products; there were frequently aliens featured; green, smiling, and flashing the peace sign to the world7. We are a society that loves to solve mysteries, including that of aliens. It is the mystery that draws us in and elevates aliens from a conspiracy to an entire marketing franchise.
Letter from the Editor
once said that, “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”
So, why do people believe that aliens crash-landed in Roswell in 1947? For some like Jesse Marcel Jr., it was a first-hand account of the wreckage. For others like astronaut Gordon Mitchell, it was a combination of personal experience and talking to those who worked at Area 51. And some people, like Steven Greer, harbor an intense sense of distrust toward the government.
The mystery surrounding Area 51 is one which captivates us, entertains us, and, most importantly, ignites our curiosity. Whether you agree that aliens crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 or not, all possibilities must be considered. We live in a threedimensional world. Nothing has only two sides. Nothing is black and white. There are always multiple facets and grey areas to every situation. And if you don’t recognize this, you’re doomed to ignorance.
By this same token, we must ask: Why do people believe the government? Indeed, there have been countless reports issued from the military which reinforce the notion that Area 51 is merely a base where nonextraterrestrial programs are tested. B.G. Gildenburg stresses that a weather balloon from the Skylab program was the source of the wreckage found in 1947. Whether you believe in the conspiracy theory surrounding Area 51 or not, you cannot deny that the type of curiosity it provokes enriches our society. It provides a conversation piece. Aliens, the icons stemming from these theories, permeate through a vast majority of media. From video games to movies to a number of television series, the products of the Area 51 conspiracy theory are everywhere. Most importantly, the mystery surrounding Area 51 evokes curiosity within each of us. People enjoy learning about which they do not know. This desire to understand our universe motivates us to dig around for evidence or clues; it motivates us to talk about these postulates. Some people, like Steven Greer, dedicate the majority of their lives to find out and prove what they believe is the truth. The process of learning requires us to seek answers. We must locate sources, look for evidence, and consider all sides of the controversy while doing this. But above all, we must ask questions: questions aimed at government, at witnesses, and at diehards. After all, Decouvertes
Works Cited What’s the Deal? 1Jerry
Resler. “Roswell Cover-Up Alleged by Hubertus Investigator.” The Milwaukee Sentinel. Milwaukee, WI, September 19, 1994. http:// news.google.com/newspapers? id=EJpQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FBMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=633 1,5883265&dq=mac+brazel&hl=en.
Spotlight on Supporters 1Edgar
Mitchell. “Apollo Astronaut Chats About UFO, Alien Belief”, n.d. http://dsc.discovery.com/space/ qa/alien-ufo-edgar-mitchell.html. 2“Apollo
14 Astronaut Claims Aliens HAVE Made Contact - but It Has Been Covered up for 60 Years.” Mail Online, n.d. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ sciencetech/article-1037471/Apollo-14-astronautclaims-aliens-HAVE-contact--covered-60-years.html.
Images Courtesy of: Nasa.gov
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Government Secrecy? 1 Lee Speigel. “UFO Conspiracy Film Crew Detained At Gunpoint At Legendary Area 51 Gate: EXCLUSIVE.” Huffington Post, October 13, 2012. http:// www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/ufo-filmarea-51-crew_n_1959619.html.
Lee Speigel. “Roswell: Alien Spacecraft or Top Secret Spy Project?” News Website. ABC News, July 7, 2007. http://abcnews.go.com/ Technology/story? id=3343905&page=1#.UHWVwaRYv88. M. Greer. “The Government Is Hiding the Discovery of UFOs.” In Are Conspiracy Theories Valid?, edited by Stuart A. Kallen, 65–71. At Issue. Greenhaven Press/ Thomson Gale, 2006. 4B.D.
Gildenburg. “The Government Did Not Cover Up UFO Visits.” In Are Conspiracy Theories Valid?, 72–83. At Issue. Greenhaven Press/ Thomson Gale, 2006. 5Thomas
Harding. “Roswell ‘Was Soviet Plot to Create US Panic’.” News Website. Telegraph.co.uk, May 13, 2011. http:// www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/ howaboutthat/ufo/8512408/Roswell-was-Sovietplot-to-create-US-panic.html. Images used courtesy of: Abduct.com Disclosureproject.org Ghosttheory.com
BBC Film Crew Is Held at Gunpoint After Trying to Sneak into Nevada’s Area 51 Military Base with UFO Conspiracy Theorists.” Mail Online, n.d. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2216077/ BBC-film-crew-held-gunpoint-trying-failing-sneak-U-SArea-51-military-base.html. Images Courtesy of: Simon Johannson Jim Der Kaisser -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Today’s Relevance 1 Holmes, Linda. “Pop Culture Happy Hour: An Exploration Of Strange Creatures.” National Public Radio. NPR.org, June 8, 2012. http:// www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/ 2012/06/08/154578040/pop-culture-happyhour-an-exploration-of-strange-creatures.
"Wells, H. G. — Infoplease.com." Encyclopedia Infoplease. © 2000–2007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. 25 Oct. 2012 <http:// www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/people/ wells-h-g.html>. 3 "Civil Rights Movement Timeline (14th Amendment, 1964 Act, Human Rights Law) — Infoplease.com." Infoplease. © 2000–2007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. 25 Oct. 2012 <http://www.infoplease.com/ spot/civilrightstimeline1.html>. Images Courtesy of: Fantendo.wikia.com Israellycool.com Screenrant.com -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Alien Commercialization 1"Alien." IMDb. IMDb.com 2"Alien (franchise)." Wikipedia.
Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Alien_(franchise)> 3"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." IMDb. IMDb.com. 4"Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Movies." Rotten Tomatoes. 5"Area 51 (2005 Video Game)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation 6"Halo (series)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 7 Lisa Frank webpage. www.lisafrank.com Images Courtesy of: Destination360.com Ltquinn.blogspot.com Bigthoughtsfromasmallmind.com
Mission Statement Controverzine is built to educate the public about U.S. government conspiracy theories from an academic point of view. We aim to research the full depth of American conspiracy theories from their birth to current day and then evaluate them by referencing scholarly resources on human psychology surrounding paranoia and delusion and cultural philosophy on myth creation. The goal is to evoke curiosity and questions among a college-aged audience concerning the U.S. democratic system and the relationship between the government and its citizens. We present our research in zine form, so they are short but packed with information, and thus effective for catching and keeping the attention our demographic. Zines also represent a subculture mode of communication that corresponds perfectly with our topic, U.S. government conspiracy theories.