Silver Screen Saucers: An Interview With Robbie Graham

60 – Silver Screen Saucers: An Interview with Robbie Graham

UFO movies have been with us for just a little bit less time than movies themselves.  From Kenneth Arnold’s original sighting of a flying saucer in 1947 to the Roswell incident less than a month later, it only took a couple of years for Hollywood to catch up. In 1950 they’d released The Flying Saucer and UFOs landed for the first time on the big screen, beginning the long relationship between film and UFO phenomena. Author Robbie Graham has just released a new book, Silver Screen Saucers, that focuses on that relationship. I interviewed Robbie from his home in Surrey in the United Kingdom and we talk about how the book started as  a doctoral thesis, the power of cinema on belief, and how the CIA might have been using these films as disinformation.

When I think about flying saucers and alien visitation movies, one of my favorites is The Day The Earth Stood Still reference (the original, not the Keanu Reeves version…)

Keanu Reeves as Klaatu
I know Kung Fu…

To me, what The Day The Earth Stood Still really gets right is the sense that aliens have superior technology and that we’ve caught their attention in the universe .  Now that’s something that has really influenced our UFO folklore for a long time now, that they’re coming here for a reason and could take us out at any minute.  If they’ve got the power to travel among the stars, what must their weaponry look like, right?

Oh, and just because I love it, here’s a little Bruce Campbell with my personal favorite reference from The Day The Earth Stood Still.

What was particularly interesting to me, though, was something I hadn’t heard before. And that was that the movie was made with full cooperation of the US government, and that they might have been behind some of the content of the film. But why would that be? What would they have to gain? The legend in UFO circles is that they wanted to prepare the American public for UFO disclosure (which to me seems ridiculous, because it’s been over sixty years and no disclosure yet…) Robbie even has an excellent article on Scribd about it which you should check out because it’s the most well-researched article you’re going to see on UFOs today!

Okay, well maybe it wasnt about disclosure, but maybe it was about getting the American people to believe in aliens. But why would the government want that? Well, in the Cold War, it was completely advantageous for Americans to believe in the idea that we had contact with aliens and that we were working on new technology with them. Now that’s something that would be scary to the Russians, we might both have nukes, but what kinda of extraterrestrial technology are we hiding up our sleeves? It’s classic psychological warfare.

Robbie goes on to give some more examples of this and we start talking about the first mention of the famous “Area 51” in the mass media, which was a television special that I remember watching as a kid. 1988’s UFO Cover Up Live was one of those syndicated specials like Geraldo checking out Al Capone’s vaults. This was nearing the end of the Cold War, when things were tense again in the 1980s. All of a sudden, the Air Force’s secret base has alien weaponry,

So, it’s probably not a coincidence that Area 51’s most famous employee, Bob Lazar, came out just a few months later to reveal all he had seen while working at the Top Secret facility. Robbie believes that Lazar was shown these things on purpose by the Air Force because they wanted him to “blow the whistle”. After all, what’s a Soviet nuke compared to an alien death ray?

Okay, that’s just a short part of Silver Screen Saucers and that’s where I steered the conversation because I truly hadn’t thought about it like that before, but I could have talked to him for hours on end on any one of the topics that he broaches in his new fascinating book, which you can buy right here and check it out yourself! 

Well, the main thesis of Silver Screen Saucers is that we’ve made UFOs real to because visuals have such a real effect on our beliefs system even more than books, because our visual sense is so tied to our interpretation of reality. It’s like in a horror movie when your subconscious mind doesn’t know you’re seeing fiction, so that’s why you have a physical reaction. So the song this week is a little riff on that idea called “Seeing Is Believing”.

Featured Song: Seeing Is Believing By Sunspot

Disinformation,
we’re lied to every day,
Our imagination used
to fool our lizard brain.
The point of distraction,
just a little bait and switch,
Find the ball under the shell,
Who knows? You might get rich

A mothership o’er the Empire State,
A saucer on the White House lawn,
Keep your eyes upon the skies,
and forget you’re being conned.

If seeing is believing,
Then I’ll get down on my knees,
my head gets cracked,
‘tween fiction and fact
We see what we want to see.
Your eyes play tricks,
and your mind transfixed,
on what the screen reveals.
Seeing is believing,
but that doesn’t make it real.

Check your programming,
you could use a little doubt.
Keep on looking, keep on looking,
further than your eyes allow.

A mothership over the Empire State,
and a saucer on the White House lawn,
Keep your eyes upon the skies,
and forget you’re being conned.

If seeing is believing,
Then I’ll get down on my knees,
my head gets cracked,
‘tween fiction and fact
We see what we want to see.
Your eyes play tricks,
and your mind transfixed,
to what the screen reveals.
Seeing may be believing,
but that doesn’t make it real.

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