Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 17th, 2006
I have a short personal story to share today.
It is a tale of pondering whether cryptozoology television is merely for the young. And even if the answer is yes, are corporations missing out on something in reinforcing that trend?
First, I’m a little biased. That’s why it’s personal, of course. I’m 58, and yet feel like I’m 23 and sometimes even 12 years old, when I’m talking about or investigating cryptozoology. I have been in this field for 46 years. I know it keeps me young. Perhaps corporate folks don’t know this about cryptozoology?
As many of you know, I’ve been on television a good deal in my life. When I went on my local Decatur news station for my first interview about Bigfoot, in 1969, I didn’t realize it would be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the small screen. But it has been.
Indeed, I was what is called in the business, a "quick study." Even though I grew up the shy intellectual, I found I wasn’t an introvert for long in front of crowds or the electron lens. It appears my winning smile, quick-witted knowledge-based sound-bites on cryptozoology, and baby blue eyes were all camera-friendly. (Yes, I am modest, lol, too.) I was ask to show up and to come back to talk of cryptids again and again.
My resume is hardly complete these days, because I can’t keep up with all my appearances. But you get the idea. I have been on NBC-TV’s "Unsolved Mysteries," A & E’s "Ancient Mysteries," History Channel’s "In Search of History," Discovery Channel’s "In the Unknown, " Discovery Science Channel’s "Critical Eye," History Channel’s "Deep Sea Detectives," Animal Planet’s "Animal X," Discovery Kids’ "Mystery Hunters," and Animal Planet’s "Twisted Tales," plus many other reality-based programs such as A Current Affair.
In 2000, as you’ve heard me talk about, I served as the Senior Series Consultant to the new "In Search Of…" program that was broadcast on the Sci-Fi Network. During 2002, I, along with eyewitnesses and John A. Keel, was featured in the Sony Studios’ documentary Search for the Mothman, available on the deluxe DVD of the movie The Mothman Prophecies.
Someone, a few years ago, even started an Internet Movie Datebase entry on me, which is badly in need of updating. For example, in 2005 and 2006, I’ve already been interviewed by over ten documentary and television production companies, from Discovery Channel to the Travel Channel, from G4tv’s "Attack of the Show" to spots on the Mud movie DVD.
But, of course, interviews are not a series. People have been pushing a series on my behalf, now and then, for over 25 years. Jim Brandon of Weird America fame and I, coming off my Mysterious World column and Mysterious America book days, had shopped around a series we called Weird World in the early 1980s. I think we were ahead of the times. Too far out there apparently. Now everyone has caught up. Ha.
Recently, with the forthcoming new paperback publication of my book, Mysterious America this fall, the people of Simon and Schuster’s Paraview Pocket group would like to see a series called Mysterious America out there. Of course, so would I. They have been quietly working behind the scenes on this for months.
Yesterday, I got the final word on the proposal. Luckily, I didn’t have high expectations for a series. So many people have good ideas, and there are many cryptozoological and Fortean spec projects out there, I am realistic about how these things go.
But, the series idea was sort of unique – it was one in which I and my 16 and 20 year old sons would travel around the country investigating weird sightings and spots. But, amazingly, the reason for the rejection was a short sentence: "Loren is too old."
Neither heartbroken nor crushed, I was not surprised. But, for a graying generation of cryptozoologists, I am disappointed.
Television wants young hosts. Talking heads and pretty faces. LOL. You can see it across the electronic landscape. I understand. But I think the corporations are missing an untapped demographic here. And not just the old one, mind you.
Yes, we are living the MTV life, and I guess, on television, it is easy on the eyes to watch an attractive young host, female or male, talk about weird animals worldwide.
But, frankly, I thought people in my age group, baby boomers, are a group to be addressed. To not be forgotten. Nostalgia about the 1950s hunt for the Abominable Snowman, or the 1960s search for Nessie, aside, there’s lots of people my age interested in cryptozoology. But that misses the point.
Young people are looking for q-tips to pass on the knowledge to them, grasshoppers, and why are media corporate-types ignoring that?
I am saying this not just for me so much as to reflect on the notion that kids, teens, and Generation Xers and Yers are listening and watching people in their 50s for insights and information.
Who does the television people think cryptozoology is being mentored by?
A cryptoyouth trend just seems silly to me. All the old cryptozoologists and Bigfoot hunters will be dead and gone, and what will remain? Will all the reruns be of young woman #1 and young man #2 standing on a road talking about the Thylacine up in the woods?
I don’t care if I am picked. But, gosh, doesn’t it make sense that a few hosts might be women 49 years old, or a guy, here and there, who is 62? Or the consultants behind the shows?
I hope the television people wake up before it is too late. And by that I mean, before they are too old and someone in the corporation replaces them.
As for the 60-year-old cryptozoologists, well, don’t worry about us. We’ll be around for another 20 or 30 years, because, truth be told, we have a lot to do. And we are having fun doing it.
Loren Coleman, here, last year, still alive, in 2005. Photo by Joseph Citro.