Sunday, November 9, 2008

UFO Hunters: "Ditch Diggers?"

Frank Warren reviews UFO Hunters on his blog (UFO Hunters: For Better or Worse) He didn't like the program last season, and he doesn't like it this season, giving it a mark of "C" which is an improvement, he says, over last season.

Warren's entitled to his opinions, of course, as we all are. It's a bit of synchronicity that this review appeared on Warren's blog, because last night I started my own review of UFO Hunters (unfinished) tilted "UFO Hunters: And I'm Not Just Saying That Because . . ." -- meaning, because I write a monthly column for UFO Magazine (Bill Birnes of UFO Hunters is the publisher) I'm not "just saying that" UFO Hunters is a good show; I really do think that, and in fact, think this season is the best yet.

Warren has several reasons why he doesn't think much of UFO Hunters, and while I disagree with him on those, it's his right to think what he does, though I disagree for various reasons that I might address in some other post.

What got me was the following comment by Warren:
One thing that remains this season, which some may accuse me of being too cavil, is the slipshod appearance of the investigators; Ufology in general has an “uphill battle” in regards to being taken seriously, not only with mainstream science, but the media and public in general. “Blue jeans, tee shirts and ball caps” are what a ditch digger “appropriately” wears to work, not an investigative team whose hallmark claims to be “scientific, analytical research” to uncover the mysteries of the UFO phenomenon.

While it bugs me that so many people dress like slobs, at least out here in the west , I'm all for dressing uniquely and in your own style, and thrift store shoppping is both a joy and an art. You don't want to appear unkept, or dirty, but wearing a baseball cap or wool hat per se doesn't make you a slob or give off an air of ineptness.

But let's be pragmatic. The UFO Hunters team do not look like slobs or "ditch diggers" and they're dressed for the occasion: usually cold weather, and having to tramp around in mud, rain, the woods, etc. Does one seriously expect them to wear a suit and tie? Or far worse, a polo shirt? Do we expect investigators to be dressed like geeky golfers or suits when they show up to reenact a sighting at night in the middle of a cow pasture?


There's also this point to be considered: going into rural areas, or even anywhere, really, dressed like an insurance salesman, will often just put people off. If you appear on someone's doorstep dressed in a suit and tie to take someone's UFO report, you're sending the message you're better than they are, you're removed from the situation, and you have a false air of officialdom that a lot of people don't like. That kind of stuffed shirt, faux authoritism discourages trust, not encourages it.

(Personally, I always find myself laughing inwardly a little bit at anyone who wears a suit and tie, unless they're Keith Olbermann.)


I like that the UFO Hunters team dress like average people, and appropriately for occasion, which is walking around often muddy fields, the woods, in the rain, climbing around on equipment, etc.

The subject of UFOs is taken seriously, or not, based on a whole mess of complex reasons, very few of which have to do with how one dresses.

3 comments:

Lesley said...

I don't know where Frank Warren lives, but here in NM we would never judge someone based on how they dress. The slob in line at the coffee shop could likely be a physicist from Los Alamos or Sandia labs. Some of the most sloppy dressers I have ever seen were scientists.

I do realize there are other parts of the country that are not so casual. I remember a lawyer that had moved here from Boston a few years back. He was appalled at the way lawyers here dress, which is often in jeans. He quickly fell into line though and was happy to be able to work in comfort all day rather than some stuffy suit.

Frank Warren said...

Evenin' Regan, (and Leslie),

I must say, I'm honored that you've taken the time to read my review of UFO Hunters, and doubly so that it provoked a rejoinder.

At the same time, I am slightly amused after writing (in said piece) that “some may accuse me of being to cavil,” in regards to the comments I made pertaining to the attire of the stars of UFO Hunters, and that the realization would come to fruition so quickly. Notwithstanding, and to be clear, their dress is “low on the totem pole” in respect to the issues I have with the show. Moreover, in contrast to last year, “I do” see improvement, and I view that as a good thing!

All that said; since you’ve chosen to focus my commentary re their dress, allow to me respond in kind:

First, even though you quoted my sentiment in toto, you have taken my point out of context somewhat; for example, I never said the stars of the show look like “slobs.” Nor do I feel that “ditch diggers” dress like “slobs,” or that dressing in blue jeans, a tee shirt and a ball cap is the dress of a “slob.” My point is that when you herald yourself, as an investigative team who employs, scientific, analytical methodologies, this doesn’t conjure the image of “Joe The Plumber,” or “Danny The Ditch Digger,” nor should it.

Having been a “ditch digger” in my life, I did in fact wear, “blue jeans, a tee shirt, and ball cap,” and quite frankly, anytime I do that type of work around the house including carpentry, painting etc., I wear just that (and I don’t consider myself a slob). Conversely, I have also been the president of my own company, and in that role, I dressed accordingly which necessitated a more formal appearance (suit & tie). Now, I owned the business, I didn’t have to wear a suit and tie, I chose to, in order to uphold a “professional appearance” and further the business.

I would no more wear my suit and tie into the ditch, then I would wear my tee shirt and ball cap into a business meeting. Additionally, I’m in my forth decade of UFO research, and I approach the vocation in the same manner I do business, with professionalism in conduct and appearance; I take it very seriously and am vigilant in how I present it and myself, and am mindful of how it is presented in general and or by others; hence my frequent criticism of the media overall.

You wrote:

“But let's be pragmatic. The UFO Hunters team do not look like slobs or "ditch diggers" and they're dressed for the occasion . . ..”

To reiterate, I never said they look like slobs; however I can emphatically state that they often dress like “ditch diggers.” Moreover, no one expects them to tromp through the “back forty” in their Brunori's; again that’s an aberration of my position.

You wrote:

Does one seriously expect them to wear a suit and tie?

Under the guise of an “investigative team who employs, scientific, analytical methodologies” in order to shed light and or solve the UFO enigma . . . the short answer is “yes,” when applicable.

You wrote:

“There's also this point to be considered: going into rural areas, or even anywhere, really, dressed like an insurance salesman, will often just put people off. If you appear on someone's doorstep dressed in a suit and tie to take someone's UFO report, you're sending the message you're better than they are, you're removed from the situation, and you have a false air of officialdom that a lot of people don't like. That kind of stuffed shirt, faux authoritism discourages trust, not encourages it.”

First, let me remind you that this show is “for entertainment” purposes; Birnes and company aren’t conducting research “live” on the fly with a camera crew in tow; every witness who appears on the show has been contacted in advance so your assertion doesn’t apply in this instance. Furthermore, I have to respectfully disagree even under normal “research circumstances”; omitting some TV show for the moment; conducting yourself like a professional researcher, and looking that way isn’t going to “send a message to people that you’re better then they are,” (with the exception of some very insecure people perhaps). Nor do I think it portends that you’re “removed from the situation,” quite the opposite in my view.

Imagine if “Blue Book” was still active and an Air Force officer shows up at a witness’ house dressed in his "Phillies cap, jeans and Nikes," and says, “Ma’am I’m here to talk to you about that Flying Saucer you reported.” I don’t think that would bode to well for the Air Force or the “official investigation of UFOs.”

In the end the star’s attire is the least of my objections, and as I have always said, mixing research and a television show is like “mixing oil and water” . . . the goals contrast each other. Although, I'm certain the “reality based format” and the "flashy camera/sound effects" (as well as the casual attire [to be polite]), melds well with the target demographic.

Respectfully,
Frank
(from casual California)

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Well and humorously said Regan.