Thursday, January 17, 2019

Project Blue Book - Paul Hynek's Words

I was more than a little disturbed by the latest episode of Project Blue Book. The case, based loosely, and I do mean loosely, on the Flatwoods, West Virginia, landing of September 12, 1952, was barely recognizable. They portrayed it as a crash and left out many of the witnesses, focusing on three… a mother and her two boys.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek
What disturbed me was the first interaction between that mother and Allen Hynek. The captain with him introduced him as Dr. Hynek and it was clear the mother thought that he was a physician. He didn’t do anything to suggest he wasn’t and I couldn’t see Allen Hynek doing something like that.

But I also know that those of us not involved shouldn’t assume outrage on the part of those who are. You can think of many things in the modern world where someone gains attention by his or her outrage on the part of another. I thought I would find out what the family of Allen Hynek thought about this series and the way Allen and his wife were presented. Here is the response I received from Paul Hynek. I have left out the very kind words directed at me. With his permission, I quote in part:

Project Blue Book is a highly dramatized portrayal of my father's work with the US Air Force. As with other dramatic representations, it is not meant to be accurate in all of its details. So you can find many incidents depicted in the show that didn't actually happen in real life. I don't know offhand if my father read the whole Encyclopedia Britannica (let alone twice) when he was indeed laid up with Scarlet Fever. It wouldn't surprise me, given the frequent exhortations he made to me as a child to consult the damn encyclopedia. I have, however, attached photos of the astronomy text book that he had during this time that he often cited as creating his interest in astronomy to begin with. This is an example of something that perhaps not accurate, is certainly authentic. 
My father was a public figure, and HISTORY could have made Project Blue Book without any input from the Hynek family. However, they invited my brother Joel and I to serve as consultants on the show, so I know first hand that creator David O'Leary, showrunner Sean Jablonski, the producers, HISTORY executive Arturo Interian, and Aidan Gillen and Laura Mennell and the rest of the cast have gone to great efforts to portray my parents and the other characters in an authentic and respectful fashion. In addition, each episode is based on a real case as you remarked on in your article with the Gorman dogfight, is followed by actual information, and also has additional accompanying interviews on the website with Jacques Vallee, Robert Friend, Richard Dolan, Joel, me, and others to present actual recollections. HISTORY has also invited Joel and me to participate in numerous public forums to talk about our real life father and his actual views.
In broad strokes, the show accurately portrays my father as a highly intelligent scientist who initially thought that flying saucers were nothing more than post-war hysteria who comes to believe there is something to the phenomenon. He therefore wound up butting heads with an Air Force that was more concerned, and rightly so, with national security and tamping down public hysteria than they were with honest scientific inquiry - at least conducted out of Wright-Patterson. I also believe that should the show continue into subsequent seasons, it will show the evolution that my mother underwent as well to become an important figure in UFOLOGY in her own right. As a loving and admiring son, I'm delighted that my father's decades of work trying to answer one of the most important questions ever to face mankind are once again getting their just due.
Hynek’s family is participating in the project, and if they are cool with the way he’s portrayed, then how am I to be outraged by it. While there are other problems with the show, and I don’t know how many people bother with following up to learn the truth about the incidents presented, Paul Hynek, believes they are making a sincere effort to get the real information out to the public.

I will admit here that I am ambivalent about all this. I see the show as just that. A show. Just like any other scripted series on television, though one that is attached to the real world. I see that they have worked hard to recreate the world of more than half a century ago, and they seemed to have captured the flavor of the times. I do wish they wouldn’t bring in the nonsense of MJ-12 and the MIB, but then this is a television show and you must have some conflict or you end up with, well, I wanted to say Seinfeld, but that certainly worked for a decade or so.

I say again that I am disappointed in the direction it is taking but I say that as one who has been immersed in the UFO field for a very long time. I’m disappointed by the way the military is shown, but only because they don’t understand military customs, something they could have fixed with consultant who had actually served as an officer.

On the other hand, I do enjoy the show and I just can’t help it. I guess I’m able to separate the program from UFO research. They do make it clear that the stories as they tell them are not the reports as they were actually received. As I say, I’m ambivalent at this point… I just don’t know if I should be outraged or entertained… at the moment, I’m opting for entertained.

As a final thought. This from Paul Hynek. “If my Dad were still around, I can imagine him putting on his slippers, cooking some popcorn, sitting in his comfy chair and watching the show, having a grand old time.”


09rja said...

As I say, I’m ambivalent at this point… I just don’t know if I should be outraged or entertained… at the moment.~kRandle

Same here. I think a lot will depend on how it is taken by the public (if at all). If people take it as legit history (as they often do with movies & TV), I guess that will bother me.

Clarence said...

....I'm thinking it may cause people to dig a little deeper for what is true and what is just plain entertainment. I already know a few people, with little interest in UFOs who have done that...

Marcos said...

I think the time is apt to comment on this most recent article in the New York Times. Not necessarily the content, which most here are familiar with, but the fact that NYT is green lighting follow up:

Unknown said...

I'm so excited about seeing Paul at ALIEN CON 👽