When I look back at 1997, one single, momentous event sticks out in my mind.
No, it’s not the death of Diana - not even the passing of other humanitarians such as Mother Teresa and Jimmy Stewart. If you think I refer to the latest scandalous year of the Clinton presidency, guess again. And if you’re so deluded as to believe I’d dignify Tom DiBartolo in print, you’re still wrong.
What is that one big event? The 50th anniversary of the UFO sightings at Roswell, New Mexico.
Now, I’m sure you’re all thinking I’ve gone as nuts as the people who saw the spacecraft in the first place, but when it comes to Roswell, as always, there is more than what meets the eye.
Across the board, popular culture often seemed as if aliens had landed.
Look at pop music sensation The Spice Girls. OK, I’m sorry, don’t look at them. But think about them for a second. Never mind. Still wrong. But obviously baby Spice does not find her roots anywhere on this planet. The declining sales of the group’s second album is the first shred of hope for the new year.
Then consider Hollywood. Two of the most popular movies of the year, so far, are “Men in Black’ and “The Lost World.” I hope the Roswell connection is readily visible for “Men in Black.” “The Lost World,” however, takes a little more work.
As we approach the post-apocalyptic world of the 21st century, we seem to be frightened of everything - especially anything that might come from another planet. Or, in the case of the “Jurassic Park” sequel, from a far distant time. Maybe they weren’t particularly afraid of vicious velociraptors, but the Heaven’s Gate cult was apparently freaked out by something.
Let’s move on to something more serious. Say, television.
In what must have been the second most important happening of the year, MTV aired the last episode of “Beavis and Butt-head.” I still weep from time to time thinking about that. At least now the cultural icons that made stupidity the in thing can go back to their home planet. Now, Butt-head’s signature grunts are forced to live on only through real-life TV stars such as Drew Carey and Kirstie Alley.
The millennium approaches, and everything just keeps getting stranger. However, the implications of Roswell do not end simply within the pages of Entertainment Weekly. Something must be able to explain the strange doings of Bill Clinton, and my theory is the best I’ve heard so far.
My belief is this. Unaware of democratic party politics, but nonetheless annoyed by the screeching saxophone sounds of “Heartbreak Hotel,” aliens visited the White House, abducted the president, replaced him with an ineffectual bureaucrat from their home planet, and placed Clinton in a torture chamber where everyone speaks to him non-stop, but tells only lies.
All right, I really don’t think that. Torture might be a bit strong. I’m not sure which is more curious: Clinton’s abduction, or the fact that none of us noticed (except, of course, this conspiracy-minded author).
Whoever the Roswell-minded aliens are, and wherever they come from, it is intriguing to imagine what the inside of their spacecraft must look like. One room to contain our lost president, another to breed new forms of Hanson and the Spice Girls (please, never let the two meet), yet another to plan the next attack on our planet.
As the band OMC so conveniently summarized 1997, “How bizarre.”