From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
|This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (June 2013)|
Men in Black (MIB), in American popular culture and in UFO conspiracy theories, are men dressed in black suits who claim to be government agents who harass or threaten UFO witnesses to keep them quiet about what they have seen. It is sometimes implied that they may be aliens themselves. The term is also frequently used to describe mysterious men working for unknown organizations, as well as various branches of government allegedly designed to protect secrets or perform other strange activities. The term is generic, used for any unusual, threatening or strangely behaved individual whose appearance on the scene can be linked in some fashion with a UFO sighting.
According to the accounts of those encountering them, Men in Black always seem to have detailed information on the persons they contact, as if the individuals had been under surveillance for a significant period of time. They have occasionally been described as seeming confused by the nature of everyday items such as pens, eating utensils or food, as well as using outdated slang, old cars or vintage styles of clothing. Reports indicate that they often claim to be from an agency collecting information on the unexplained phenomenon their subject has encountered. In other accounts, they seem to be trying to suppress information by trying to convince their target that the event in question did not happen. They have been described as behaving in either an exceedingly furtive manner or a completely outgoing one, with wide grins and disconcerting giggles. This observation might imply that the "gigglers" were possibly, though not necessarily, pranksters, as numerous forms of unexpected, inappropriate, or even bizarre (as in robotic) behavior seem to be hallmarks of these mysterious beings.
Although the phenomenon was initially and most frequently reported in the 1950s and 1960s, some researchers – John Keel and others – have suggested similarities between Men in Black reports and earlier demonic accounts. Keel suggests that MiBs are a modern-day manifestation of the same phenomena that were earlier interpreted as the devil or encounters with fairies. Similarly, folklorist Peter Rojcewicz noted that many Men in Black accounts parallel tales of people encountering the devil: neither Men in Black nor the devil are quite human, and witnesses often discover this fact midway through an encounter. The meaning of this parallel, however, has been the subject of debate. Even so, the term "the black man" was used for centuries in reference to the Devil, up until contemporary times when "black man" was used to replace the term "Negro" and the satanic sense was lost. A telling example may be found in an 1837 report in The Morning Chronicle. A certain John Henning, charged with running away with a chest of tea, defended himself with the claim that "he was ordered to carry it by a gentleman in black" who told him to carry it to Petticoat-lane.
The LORD MAYOR: Pray what sort of gentleman was he?
Prisoner: I can't just tell, please you, my lord; I only know he was in black.
The LORD MAYOR: I am afraid it was the gentleman in black that directed you in this matter. Had he a tail?
Prisoner: A tail! A pig-tail, do you mean, please you, my lord? No, I can't say as he had.
The LORD MAYOR: Did you look at his feet? What sort were they? – like a cow's [a laugh]?
In witchcraft trials "The Black Man" was often reported as meeting with the accused and having sexual intercourse with them. In Washington Irving's story "The Devil and Tom Walker" set in 1727, Irving tells how Tom asks "the black man" who he is. The man says he goes by many names and is called the black miner sometimes or the black woodsman. He says that since the Indians are gone, he presides over the persecutions of various religious sects, supports slave dealers and is the master of the Salem witches. Tom replies that he must be "Old Scratch", which is another name for the devil, and the black man acknowledges that he is Old Scratch. In 1932, H. P. Lovecraft also used the figure of The Black Man in his tale "The Dreams in the Witch-House" as a synonym for the Devil, but he also uses the term and description for Nyarlathotep, a malevolent entity of his own creation. In the Middle Ages the Black Man was not a man with African features, but rather a man colored black and dressed in black.
Paranormal researcher Jerome Clark cites Bill Moore, who asserts that "the Men in Black are really government agents in disguise ... members of a rather bizarre unit of Air Force Intelligence known currently as the Air Force Special Activities Center (AFSAC) ... As of 1991, the AFSAC, headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia," and "under the operational authority of Air Force Intelligence Command centered at Kelly Air Force Base in Texas."  Curiously, Moore also reports that AFSAC was inspired by the tales of Men in Black from the 1950s, and had nothing to do with those early accounts. Similarly, Clark notes that Dr. Michael D. Swords has speculated that the Barker/Bender Men in Black case (occurring shortly after the CIA-directed Robertson Panel issued its recommendations to spy on civilian UFO groups) might have been a psychological warfare experiment.
In his article, "Gray Barker: My Friend, the Myth-Maker," John C. Sherwood[disambiguation needed] claims that at age 18, he cooperated when Gray Barker urged him in the late 1960s to develop a hoax – which Barker subsequently published – about what Barker called "blackmen", three mysterious UFO inhabitants who silenced Sherwood's pseudonymous identity, "Dr. Richard H. Pratt".
Before the popular Men in Black franchise, the first appearance of Men in Black in film was in John Sayles' 1984 film The Brother from Another Planet In this film, John Sayles himself and David Strathairn, both credited as Man In Black, are aliens in search of an escaped alien slave (the titular "Brother").
Men in Black (1997), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as Agent K and Agent J respectively, was based on Lowell Cunningham's comic book about a secret organization that monitors and regulates alien activity on Earth – The Men in Black from Aircel Comics. The film was followed by Men in Black: The Series and its 2002 sequel Men in Black II. Men in Black 3 was released on May 25, 2012. Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, who published the comic book, took the property to Sony to become a billion-dollar film franchise. Will Smith made a song called "Men in Black", for the movie Men in Black in 1997, and "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)" for its sequel in 2002.
In the animated episode "Dreamland" of the British sci-fi show Doctor Who, the Men in Black are presented as androids working for the fictional organization The Alliance of Shades to help cover up the existence of alien life to human society during the 1950s and 60s, eventually becoming defunct in 1972.. The Men in Black appear again in live-action in the show's children spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures in the series four story The Vault of Secrets.