Men in black
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In popular culture and UFO conspiracy theories, men in black (MIB) are supposed men dressed in black suits who claim to be government agents and who harass or threaten UFO witnesses to keep them quiet about what they have seen. It is sometimes implied that they may be aliens themselves. The term is also frequently used to describe mysterious men working for unknown organizations, as well as various branches of government allegedly designed to protect secrets or perform other strange activities. The term is generic, used for any unusual, threatening or strangely behaved individual whose appearance on the scene can be linked in some fashion with a UFO sighting. Several alleged encounters with the men in black have been reported by UFO researchers and enthusiasts.
Men in black figure prominently in ufology and UFO folklore. In the 50s and 60s, UFOlogists adopted a conspiratorial mindset and began to fear they would be subject to organized intimidation in retaliation for discovering "the truth of the UFOs".
In 1947, Harold Dahl claimed to have been warned not to talk about his alleged UFO sighting on Maury Island by a man in a dark suit. In the mid 1950s, the ufologist Albert K. Bender claimed he was visited by men in dark suits who threatened and warned him not to continue investigating UFOs. Bender believed the men in black were secret government agents tasked with suppressing evidence of UFOs. The ufologist John Keel claimed to have had encounters with men in black and referred to them as "demonic supernaturals" with "dark skin and/or “exotic” facial features". According to the ufologist Jerome Clark, reports of men in black represent "experiences" that "don’t seem to have occurred in the world of consensus reality".
Historian Aaron Gulyas wrote, "during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, UFO conspiracy theorists would incorporate the Men in Black into their increasingly complex and paranoid visions".
In his article, "Gray Barker: My Friend, the Myth-Maker," John C. Sherwood claims that, in the late 1960s, at the age of 18, he cooperated when Gray Barker urged him to develop a hoax – which Barker subsequently published – about what Barker called "blackmen", three mysterious UFO inhabitants who silenced Sherwood's pseudonymous identity, "Dr. Richard H. Pratt".
In popular culture
- British punk rock band The Stranglers released The Gospel According to the Meninblack in 1981. Previous songs like Meninblack and Who Wants The World also explored the band's fascination with the legend.
- The first film appearance of men in black was in Hangar 18 (1980), which had four credits for MIBs, who chase the film's protagonists and try to prevent them from learning the truth.
- Later, men in black appeared in John Sayles' 1984 film The Brother from Another Planet. In this film, John Sayles himself and David Strathairn, both credited as Man In Black, are aliens in search of an escaped alien slave (the titular "Brother").
- Blue Öyster Cult directly mention the Men In Black in the lyrics to two of their songs. In the opening verse of 1976's "E.T.I (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" we are told: I hear the music, daylight disc, Three men in black said, "Don't report this". Then in 1983's "Take me away": Don't ask if they are real, The men in black, their lips are sealed.
- In the 1988 comical video game Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, set in the year 1997, the design of the villainous Caponian aliens is based on the Men in Black and the mafioso (Al Capone). Their leader was nicknamed "The King", resembled Elvis Presley and was subtly implied to be Elvis Presley himself.
- In the role-playing game Mage: The Ascension, the Men In Black are an arm of the New World Order, a convention of technology-focused mages that use information control and espionage to enforce the scientific paradigm.
- Members of the Steve Jackson Games volunteer demonstration program are known as "MIBs". Members of this program attend local conventions and visit game stores to promote awareness of Steve Jackson Games products.
- In the alternate history short story "Dukakis and the Aliens" by Robert Sheckley, contained in the anthology Alternate Presidents, Michael Dukakis is elected president in 1988. However, he is revealed to be an alien attempting to infiltrate Dulce Base. This results in the Men in Black (along with friendly aliens) rewriting history in order to let George H. W. Bush to win the election, instead.
- Frank Black, the singer for The Pixies also known by the pseudonym Black Francis, released a single entitled "Men in Black" in 1995 which subsequently appeared on his album The Cult of Ray. He described the song in 1996 by stating that "it's about the Men in Black who are the psychological intimidators sent by the alien or maybe the government or maybe both."
- In Season 3, Episode 20 of The X-Files, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", a man in a black suit, hat and gloves appears to warn and threaten a character in the episode not to share his experience witnessing an alien abduction. Another man in black also shows up in the episode and is played by Alex Trebek. The first man in black is played by Jesse Ventura.
- The Men in black are among the main opponents in the Italian comic book series Martin Mystère.
- Men in Black (1997), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as Agent K and Agent J respectively, was based on Lowell Cunningham's comic book about a secret organization that monitors and regulates alien activity on Earth – The Men in Black from Aircel Comics. The film was followed by Men in Black: The Series and its 2002 sequel Men in Black II. Men in Black 3 was released on May 25, 2012. Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, who published the comic book, took the property to Sony where it became a billion-dollar film franchise. Will Smith made a song called "Men in Black" for the first film in 1997, and "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)" for its sequel in 2002.
- The British TV series Doctor Who features a race of aliens known as The Silence that appear to be dressed in black suits. These beings work behind the scenes altering the course of human history to their own ends, and cannot be remembered by those who see them. The only trace of their presence is either a vague memory or subconscious image of their appearance, or the hypnotic suggestions they leave during their encounters. The concept and appearance of The Silence partially draw upon the myth of the Men in Black.
- The British spin off series from Doctor Who called The Sarah Jane Adventures features a group of android agents known as Men in Black that were used by the Alliance of Shades to remove any evidence of extraterrestrial life from planet Earth, they removed the memory of those who had encountered aliens and they secured alien artefacts and technology.
- The Touhou Project fighting game Urban Legend in Limbo features the Man in Black as Mamizou Futatsuiwa's attributed urban legend.
- The 1997 movie The Shadow Men features a family that has a UFO encounter and are followed and harassed by Men in Black.
- A television advert for Moosehead lager parodied the meeting between Dr Herbert Hopkins and a Man In Black.
- Clark, Jerome (1996). The UFO Encyclopedia, volume 3: High Strangeness, UFO’s from 1960 through 1979. Omnigraphis. 317–18.
- James R. Lewis (9 March 1995). The Gods Have Landed: New Religions from Other Worlds. SUNY Press. pp. 218–. ISBN 978-0-7914-2330-1.
- Aaron John Gulyas (25 January 2016). Conspiracy Theories: The Roots, Themes and Propagation of Paranoid Political and Cultural Narratives. McFarland. pp. 86–. ISBN 978-1-4766-2349-8.
- Harris, Aisha. "Do UFO Hunters Still Report "Men in Black" Sightings?". Slate. Slate.com. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- Sherwood, John C. "Gray Barker: My Friend, the Myth-Maker". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
- "Hangar 18 (1980): Full Cast and Crew". IMDb.
- "SAYLES'S 'BROTHER'". New York Times. 1984. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- The Brother from Another Planet at the Internet Movie Database.
- "Blue Öyster Cult - E.T.I. Lyrics - SongMeanings". SongMeanings.
- "Blue Öyster Cult - Take Me Away Lyrics - SongMeanings". SongMeanings.
- "Mage - Guide to the Technocracy". Scribd.
- "Steve Jackson Games: Men In Black".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 30, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
- "Scott Rosenberg". Forbes.
- "The Silence". BBC. Retrieved 2011-04-27.
- Clark, Jerome (1996). The UFO Encyclopedia, volume 3: High Strangeness, UFO’s from 1960 through 1979. Omnigraphis. ISBN 1-55888-742-3.
- Condon, Edward (1968). Daniel S. Gilmor, ed. Final Report of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. New York City: Batnam. ISBN 0-552-04747-3. ISBN.
- Wallace, Chevon. "Albert Bender and the M.I.B. Mystery". Bridgeport Public Schools. Retrieved 2006-09-10.
- The Mothman Prophecies - 1975 book by John Keel an account of alleged sightings of a large, winged creature called Mothman in the vicinity of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, during 1966 and 1967, it also narrates encounters of the author with “Men In Black”
- Los Hombres De Negro y los OVNI - 1979 book by Uruguayan ufologist Fabio Zerpa