The mysterious Men in Black tend to offer little explanation for their appearance, leaving a trail of doubt and confusion in their path, and people who have encountered them often report having felt intimidated and harassed.
The term Men in Black (MIBs) refers to individuals that often show up to question UFO witnesses and witnesses of other strange phenomenon. Usually in groups of three, they are dressed almost entirely in black, often wearing sunglasses. They are usually male, but in some cases have had an equal number of female counterparts. Sometimes they claim to be working within a certain agency of the federal government such as the CIA.
These mysterious figures have gained renown in American pop culture and folklore, and a popular trilogy of feature films, Men in Black, staring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, was conceived in 1997. Additionally, Men in Black were often featured in the 1990’s Fox show The X-Files. One comedic episode, “Jose Chung’s from Outer Space” (’95–‘96), guest-starred former wrestler Jesse Ventura and Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek as MIBs.
The term “Men in Black,” is believed to have been coined by author and investigator John Keel, who is probably best known for his investigative work in UFOs and paranormal activity, and for his book, The Mothman Prophesies (1975). In 1967, Keel wrote an article for Saga magazine titled “UFO Agents of Terror,” in which he describes his investigation into these figures that would hence come to be known as “Men in Black,” according to The Telegraph.
One of the first documented MIB cases involved publisher of the flying saucer publication Space Review Albert K. Bender, who in October 1953, abruptly ended his magazine publication. In 1963, he spoke in his autobiography about how he was intimidated into halting all publications by visitors wearing all black, according to an account on ufoevidence.org, a site dedicated to the scientific study of the extraterrestrial.
A more modern potential MIB sighting involves actor and UFO and paranormal researcher Dan Aykroyd, who recounted his MIB story in the documentary Dan Aykroyd Unplugged on UFOs: While he was in New York City preparing a show for the SciFi Channel on UFOs and the paranormal, titled Out There, he was having a cellphone conversation with Brittany Spears and saw a black sedan with potential MIBs inside. One MIB stood outside the car staring at Aykroyd, and another gave Aykroyd an unpleasant glance from the back seat. Aykroyd looked away for a brief moment, and when he looked back, the sedan had disappeared.
“I turned back a half-second later and it was gone. And that car did not go past me, it did not take a U-turn. … That car vanished,” said Aykroyd.
Aykroyd was informed later that day that his show was to be canceled, leaving many ufologists to ponder whether or not MIB influence led to that outcome.
Merely A Figment?
Due to the odd nature of these figures, there are many theories regarding their origins. Many ufologists believe these beings to be actual government agents, while others believe them to be extraterrestrials themselves. Some skeptics believe that they are just the unconscious manifestation of American paranoia.
Researcher Peter Rojcevicz, who had a close encounter with a potential MIB himself while researching UFOs, has a different understanding. He believes that the MIB phenomenon has been a part of our culture and folklore since the beginning of history, and that MIBs are a modern form of the fairies and angels that were seen by peoples of the past. In a nutshell, he believes that we mentally create these beings—or an image of them—in order to help us cement our concept of reality. The antithetical nature they represent helps us to understand reality as we see it, according to Rojcewicz’s lecture, “Beware the Physical in the Material: Imaginalia, Folk Belief and the Eclipse of the Literal.”
Whatever the reality may be, these beings often leave their contacts stunned and in fear. They are virtually synonymous with UFOs and have influenced our pop culture through stories, documentation, and movies. Perhaps someday we will have a clear understanding of the Men in Black.