Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alien autopsy memories

Someone mentioned three words to me, recently.  Three words that rankle most anyone who is serious about investigating the UFO phenomenon.  Those three words?

Alien autopsy video.

Ah plainly I remember, it was in 1995.  August, to be precise.  I was rooming with Armando at the time.  We were filling our days with X-Files episodes and segments on Sightings when the Fox Network, bastion of journalistic integrity that it is, announced that it would air Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?  It was promoted as being actual, leaked film of an autopsy being conducted on a dead alien recovered from the Roswell crash in 1947.  Time magazine described the controversy over the authenticity of the film as having  "an intensity not lavished on any home movie since the Zapruder film."  Titillated by this, we cleared our busy schedules had nothing at all resembling lives and were therefore able to sit glued to the broadcast.
It started out all right.  Jonathan Frakes was the narrator, lending the piece geek cred if nothing else.  Yeah, I know.  That and two dollars will get you a (small) coffee at Starbucks when it comes to scientific evidence.  Still, we kept watching.  
The film itself was grainy, black and white, and featured two men clad in protective gear carrying out an autopsy on an alien in a stark examination room.  We immediately thought the supposed alien being looked fake, but an interview following the footage prompted us to reconsider.  Legendary special effects artist Stan Winston was brought in with his crew to watch the footage.  He and his team confessed that they were unsure how someone could have faked such a scene.  Armando and I just looked at each other with a collective "hmmm."  If Stan was befuddled, then this entire spectacle required, at the very least, reconsideration.  That and the drama-inspiring voice of Jonathan Frakes, aka Commander Riker, could make the reading of a tuna salad recipe sound like scripture.  The program ended and I fell right into quiet contemplation right...after asking Armando to pass the Funyuns. 
Allegedly, initial autopsies on recovered alien bodies were said to have taken place at Roswell Army Air Field after the crash in 1947.  Was this it?  Was that what an alien actually looked like?  If so, I felt gypped. 
I wasn't the only one, it seemed.  Almost right away, the wheels began to come off the Fox ET RV.  A few researchers pointed out inconsistencies, such as that color film was indeed available in 1947 and whenever the military filmed something of critical significance, e.g. the Trinity test, it was filmed in color.  It would also be filmed by a camera on a steady mount, not with the shaky and at times out of focus results of a hand-held shots.  Then the most damning criticism of all, Stan Winston announced that he had originally called the film a hoax on camera, but that the producers of the show edited that part out.  It was Fox, after all.  Gradually, the alien autopsy film was convicted as a fake in the court of public opinion and all but the die-hard, "I'll believe anything alien" set continued to hold it with any veracity.
Then in 2006, Ray Santilli, the "video entrepreneur" who claimed to have originally acquired the footage before bringing it to Fox, admitted that the film was not authentic.  Turns out it was shot in a motel room in Los Angeles with the coroners being played by homeless men found on the street and given their first big break in Hollywood.  But Santilli stuck with his original a way.  He contended that the film was a recreation of an actual alien autopsy film he saw, a film that had somehow become "lost."

I now see the whole incident as an important learning experience.  There are any number of hoaxers out there, looking for fifteen minutes of fame via noisome forgeries.  If something looks too good to be true, especially in this day of computer graphics, it probably is.  Video claims must now go through an even more strident gauntlet for authentication before we start calling any purported alien or UFO footage as "real." 

If you're interested in seeing Santilli's "autopsy video," here it is.

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