Monday, July 25, 2016

On Reptoids from Alpha Draconis

In keeping with my time-honored tradition of writing a blog post whenever I encounter a network of ideas connected in any way, shape, or form with speculative fiction, but also in keeping with my equally time-honored tradition of not commenting on current affairs, I hereby commence a post about


without explaining what, precisely, has motivated me to pursue this particular avenue of discovery.

I will tell you what set me upon the path, however.

One day at the office, whilst devouring the salami sandwich, granola bar, and green apple that constitute my lunch, I happened to watch a Mental Floss YouTube video about weird conspiracy theories. Among the factoids presented therein is the assertion that 12 million Americans believe that shape-shifting lizard people secretly hold the reins of world government. This is according to Public Policy Polling.

Now, if a survey company called me to ask whether I believe shape-shifting lizard people are in control of the government, I would respond with an enthusiastic YES, YES, I DO STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT. And surely I'm not alone in my love of trolling the strangers who call my house to ask stupid questions. So, perhaps the number is a little misleading. Still, there must be some truly devout lizard-people believers, right? A little googling (not for the faint of heart in this case) would seem to confirm that, yes, there are some believers out there.

The leading proponent is one David Icke, British ex-footballer and conspiracy theorist. He asserts that reptilians (or reptoids, as I prefer to call them) from Alpha Draconis have been selectively breeding the human race since its inception, creating the Babylonian Brotherhood, a hybrid race of Illuminati who now control the world. He suggests that the aliens first came to earth in search of monatomic gold, which enhances the capacity of their nervous systems ten thousandfold.

Hm. A race of superintelligent extraterrestrials who inhabited earth long before man's coming and now treat the human race as a pet project and secretly orchestrate events from behind the scenes? Remind you of anything? Here we have the connection with my blog's purported focus. It has been suggested that the Reptoid Hypothesis owes a large debt to the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith; they, in their turn, took much of their material from nineteenth-century theosophical writings on Atlantis and Lemuria.

The idea that disguised aliens secretly control everything of course puts me in mind of John Carpenter's They Live (1988). I love eighties sci-fi actioners, and They Live is one of the most enjoyable. The screenplay was written by Carpenter under the pseudonym Frank Armitage, an allusion to Dr. Henry Armitage of "The Dunwich Horror." Like most Carpenter assays, They Live has a B-movie feel, but it's also hilarious, sharply satirical, and eerily contemporary. It takes place in a not-so-distant future when the middle class is being squeezed out of existence, the underemployed live in shantytowns on vacant lots, racial discord and police brutality are on the rise, and a media-induced malaise seems to have overcome the human race. One day, a down-and-outer (played by pro wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper) discovers a pair of cheap-looking sunglasses that let him see a whole new reality. Turns out the rich and powerful are all aliens or people who have sold out to the aliens. This leads to one of the greatest and cheesiest one-liners in action sci-fi history: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum."

Now, it's one of my little pleasures in life to post extremely weird links and opaque commentary on Facebook to see if my aunts, cousins, in-laws, coworkers, and high school friends will think I've gone off my rocker. (I used to go in for politics, but eventually you learn what everybody is going to say, so why bother?) So I recently posted the above picture of George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and Queen Elizabeth II as reptoids. Imagine my surprise when, immediately afterward, the "people also posted" thing popped up with three stories about...Donald Trump.

Let me pause here to assure whomever might be reading this that I, for one, welcome our new reptilian overlords.

Now, what's interesting to me about They Live (which is awesome and you should watch soon if you haven't yet) is that it appeared shortly before David Icke began his career as New Age prophet. Was it an influence on his ideas? Icke is also supposed to have been influenced by 1940s non-fiction writer Mark Doreal, who took some of his ideas from Robert E. Howard. So apparently there's been a strange cross-fertilization between weird horror and cranky fringe conspiracy theories. Each influences the other; both grow together.

For all that, though, there's a distinct psychological line between the weird horror fan and the wild-eyed conspiracy theorist. For the former, there's a big element of play, of fun. The latter is in deadly earnest. I would even assert that the fan is the unlikeliest person to go down that rabbit hole. They're inoculated by their sense of humor.

But what does make someone start thinking that the celebrities and politicians they see on TV and in the news are all reptoids in disguise? That, I'm afraid, is a question above my pay grade, so I'll just conclude with a word from our sponsor:

ADDENDUM: D'oh! While writing this, I forgot to mention another ridiculous eighties movie making use of the same idea: the inimitable The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), which pits humans and Black Lectroids against the evil Red Lectroids of Planet 10. Less pointed, much weirder, with an awesome cast. I'll have to start reviewing fantasy and sci-fi schlock from the eighties sometime soon.

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