So we have a new Men in Black movie? I've always resented this series. It's not that I object in principle to taking a fantastically creepy piece of American folklore and reducing it to a string of jokes. It's just that if you're going to do that, the jokes had better make me laugh, and most of the gags in the first two MiB flicks fell far short of that. Alex Trebek and Jesse Ventura were far funnier with just a fraction of the screentime when they played Men in Black in "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," and they managed to preserve the eerie weirdness of the legend in the process.
Thankfully, Fortean folklorists are still collecting tales of sinister black-clad beings, and these tend to be much more entertaining than Hollywood's contributions to the genre. As an antidote to what I suspect will be another dull movie, here is an encounter with the Men that purportedly happened in 1955. Not only is it creepy, but there's a goofiness to its creepiness; when the alleged contactee reports his "impression" that one of the Men "was wearing a mask (the elastic band of which I distinctly remember seeing amidst the kinky, red, close-cropped hair of his head)," there's a hint of deadpan humor in the horror—not surprisingly, since the tale almost certainly began as a prank. A good Men in Black story is both funny and frightening, as though someone crossed the Cthulhu mythos with a slapstick comedy; it suggests a world plagued by conspiracies that will never make sense to human minds because the forces behind them are not human themselves. I'd love to see a Men in Black movie like that. I strongly doubt that one is opening this weekend.
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