Sunday, May 22, 2011

In Search of the Real Men in Black by Nick Redfern

In the 1997 blockbuster movie, Men in Black and in its 2002 sequel, that starred Hollywood crowd-pullers Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the dark-suited characters of the film’s title are firmly portrayed as the secret-agents of a covert arm of the U.S. Government. Their role: to hide from the general public the sinister truth about a huge and intricate alien presence on the Earth.

That it took an entertaining Hollywood production to bring the legend of the MIB to the eyes and ears of the majority of the general public, is a matter that has led many to assume the Men in Black are simply the entertaining creations of Tinsel Town-based screenwriters and nothing else. Not so.

The reality of the situation is that although MIB-style characters – such as the menacing, black-clothed, Fedora-wearing aliens in the 1999 movie Dark City, the enigmatic “Observers” in Fringe, and even Governor Jesse Ventura’s rendition of a Man in Black in The X-Files – have dominated the realm of on-screen science-fiction and popular-culture for a long time, their actual origins can be found not in the domain of fantasy, but in the world of cold, terrible fact.

It was back in the early 1950s that a Connecticut-based UFO researcher and author, named Albert Bender, claimed to have received a stark and disturbing visit from a trio of ominous, black-garbed men whose far less than thinly-veiled threats led Bender to quit UFO research, never to return. In the years and decades that have passed since Bender’s bone-chilling encounter, the Men in Black have been ever-present players on the UFO scene, intimidating and threatening those who may be getting a bit too close for comfort to the truth behind the UFO puzzle.

But who are the MIB? Well, that, of course, is the big question! The quite natural assumption of many is that – as in the Men in Black movies – they are the secret agents of some covert arm of government, the military, or the intelligence community that is working to keep the lid on the sensational truth behind the UFO phenomenon. And, there is evidence that at least some MIB do indeed originate in such official domains. Other Men in Black, however, seem far, far stranger than anything that might surface out of the depths of the Pentagon or the CIA.

In many reports, the Men in Black are described as being painfully thin, white as a chain-rattling ghost, and curiously unaware of our most basic customs. The implication: the MIB are actually somewhat human-looking aliens who hide their subtle, physical differences behind a camouflage of Homburg-style hats, large, wrap-around sunglasses, and long trench-coats with turned-up, high collars.

And if you think that theory is controversial, hold on to your hat (Fedora, Homburg, or otherwise): there are those researchers of, and witnesses to, MIB encounters who have concluded the shadowy entities in question have paranormal and supernatural origins. Others muse upon the thought-provoking idea that the Men in Black are actually time-travelers from a far-flung future, demons from a literal, fiery Hell, or the denizens of strange, parallel dimensions.

Regardless of who – or what – the Real Men in Black really are, however, there’s no doubting one important fact: they are as real as they are menacing and near-deadly. And, if you find yourself attracted to the UFO enigma, and all its attendant controversies and mysteries, be aware of the possibility that the sinister Men in Black may one day be paying you a visit, too. And they won’t be Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, or the guys from Fringe. Instead, they just might be your absolute worst nightmare…

Nick Redfern works full-time as an author, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. He writes regularly for UFO Magazine, Fate, Fortean Times, and Paranormal Magazine. His previous books include The NASA Conspiracies, Contactees, and Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, all published by New Page Books. Nick has appeared on numerous television shows, including the BBC’s Out of this World; History Channel’s Monster Quest and UFO Hunters; National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive. He lives in Arlington, Texas and can be found online here.

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