Saturday, March 15, 2008
After reading a copy of the free SECRET INVASION SAGA comic, something occurred to me in regards to the possible inspiration for Marvel's latest event.
In hardcore conspiracy theorist circles, one of the most prevailing and popular theories is that of the "Reptilians."
In brief, the theory goes that there are reptile-like "shape-shifters" who have infiltrated our society. The origin of these green shape-shifters depends on who's telling the tale. Some say that they are fairly recent visitors from another planet, others claim that they are indigenous to Earth and evolved from dinosaurs parallel to human development. But a key part of most of these theories circles around the creatures' ability to take the form of other humans.
Wikipedia entry on Icke:
"In 1999, he published The Biggest Secret, in which he wrote that the Illuminati are a race of reptilian humanoids known as the Babylonian Brotherhood, and that many prominent figures are reptilian, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson, and Boxcar Willie."
The idea of the "Illuminati" is another quite popular both with Icke and conspiracy circles in general. It is also the name of the comic that more or less "officially" kicked off the SECRET INVASION event with the revelation that Black Bolt was secretly a Skrull.
It would seem that the Reptilian theory is quite similar to the crux of the SECRET INVASION plot -- that green shape-shifters from another planet have taken the guise of prominent world figures and plan to take humanity over from within.
Now, the Skrulls, as far as I know, were invented in the early 1960s by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. They predated the Reptilian theory by several decades. It might even be possible that the champions of the theory have simply been influenced by the comics of their youth but don't consciously remember it.
On the other hand -- or the same hand, just at a different angle -- the archetype of both the green invader from another planet and the shape-shifter have been with us for some time. In the end, unless you are a talented folklorist, it might be impossible to tease out where these ideas all started.
None of this is to say that Brian Michael Bendis ripped SECRET INVASION off of a popular conspiracy theory (though if he did, it would be nothing to be ashamed about -- Grant Morrison has been doing the very same thing for years). There are dozens of places Bendis might have gotten his inspiration from -- Battlestar Galactica, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, They Live, V, etc, etc, etc.
But, as with every major pop-culture phenomenon, I like to get a good sense of its possible influences and "contemporaries."
And if the more hardcore elements of the "reptilian agenda" theorists end up pointing at SECRET INVASION as some sort of "corroboration" for their tales -- as some have done concerning other science-fiction -- I would hardly be surprised.
Personally, I think these theories of evil shape-shifters from other world who secretly infiltrate society is a way for humanity to explore their own issues regarding xenophobia -- the fear of the foreign and unknown.
I believe SECRET INVASION also touches upon these issues of xenophobia. Skrulls are "evil," alien, foreign; they have a different skin color, different clothing, a different culture. They seem almost irrationally hostile, hostile without a good reason -- the perfect enemy for us to band together and fight. And seeing our most beloved and familiar characters as these alien invaders is shocking -- that was the whole point of Greg Horn's series of promos for SECRET INVASION.
The Skrulls could be anywhere, as "sleeper agents," across the country. It will be up to the heroes to root out the Skrullian influence in their midst; and in the process, many of their mistakes and sins might be explained away by "Skrull interference." After a couple of painful years filled with "Civil Wars" and "World War Hulks," things finally might get back to normal when the heroes make amends and team up to fight this common foe.
I am looking forward to SECRET INVASION, but my hope is that Bendis finds some sort of ironic twist in what might otherwise be the standard Cold War-era paranoia story. He's a smart writer; he could do it if he wanted to.
References for further reading:
On Cold War paranoia in pop-culture:
Science Fiction Films and American Society In The Fifties
On Conspiracy Theories:
The Ten Most Popular Conspiracy Theories
Crank Dot Net's Reptilian Links
Don't understand the concept of thinking critically about pop-culture?
I now include these links at the end of any pop-culture study I write:
Pop-culture studies: a definition
bell hooks on critical thinking (video, some scenes NSFW)
Resources for studying gender in popular culture
Resources for studying race and ethnicity in popular cuture
Racialicious -- a blog about the intersection of race and popular culture