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TV Shows and the Men in Black: Why Do They Always Want “Secret Agents”?

As someone who has written a number of books on the Men in Black and related phenomena (On the Trail of the Saucer Spies, The Real Men in Black, Women in Black, The Black Diary, and Men in Black – and with another MIB-themed book coming early next year), I am often contacted by a researcher of a television company wanting my views on the MIB controversy, and wanting me on their shows to discuss the mystery. Interestingly, one of the first questions I’m asked goes pretty much like this: “Who do the Men in Black work for?” The voice at the end of the phone usually expands on that question with a second question: “Is it the CIA? The FBI? Or the NSA?” That’s when I point out that the real Men in Black don’t work for any agency of government, the intelligence community, or the military. I also note that the genuine MIBs aren’t even human. That’s when I usually get into the matter of the likes of Albert Bender, the guy who largely began the MIB phenomenon in the early 1950s. I then tell them about Gray Barker, a researcher-writer who wrote the first book on the MIB (1956’s They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers), but who lost all of his credibility by outright lying about certain MIB cases.

At that point in the chat, the same researcher at the end of the line usually goes slightly quiet – not expecting me to say that one researcher (Barker) was someone who fabricated much of his “work,” and the other (Bender) was someone who was actually far more into the occult than he was into UFOs. And by the time I get into things like (a) de-materializing MIB with glowing eyes; (b) the connection between the MIB, the WIB and demonology; and (c) Women in Black and MIB with faces that look like plastic and who don’t even understand what food is, I have pretty much lost the researcher, who is clearly looking for tales of sinister “secret agents” who operate out of the likes of the Pentagon. I find this fascinating: it’s clear that the image of the MIB that most people have today is very much dictated by the hugely popular MIB-themed movies starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Yes, they are good fun, there’s no doubt about that. But, they don’t have much – if anything, at all – to do with the MIB of the real world. And yet, it’s the Jones-Smith type of Men in Black that come to the minds of the likes of not just the public, but TV researchers, writers and producers, too.

I had a very good experience back in 2015 when I appeared in M2 Pictures’ “Men in Black Special” for Destination America. They showed both sides of the MIB coin, something that was very refreshing. And, in February of this year Ancient Aliens – in an episode titled “The Real Men in Black” – included my words on how and why the MIB are clearly not “secret agents” of any arm of any government. Of course, there were others in that same episode of AA who adhered to the idea that the MIB are from a certain government agency – and nothing stranger. But, at least, both sides were presented. I have, however, been offered to come on so many shows where not only do the writers and the producers want “secret agents” – that’s all they want. They have no time for the stranger aspects of the Men in Black/Women in Black controversy in the slightest.

This brings us to something that, in a strange way, is highly ironic. The real Men in Black do their utmost to hide their true origins and what they are. By denying the weirder/supernatural side of the MIB on so many occasions, certain companies in the world of TV are inadvertently doing exactly the same thing: namely, presenting the MIB as government agents when they are nothing of the sort. I should stress, there’s no conspiracy here. In other words, I don’t think – at all – that the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, the CIA (the list goes on) are in league with the world of TV entertainment to keep the weirder side of the MIB away from its viewers. That’s ridiculous. Most of it is just due to lazy research on the part of someone at the other end of the phone and who has printed off a few pages from Wikipedia. We’re talking about someone who knows little or next to nothing about their subject-matter and who thinks it all about spies and secret-agents, when you’re more likely to find the answers to the MIB in the domains of the supernatural and the paranormal. Even the matter of alchemy and Albert Bender’s interest in the subject – a topic I’ll come to another day.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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