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>Costume Studies
>>UL Man in Black
Subject: Man in Black
Culture: American
Setting: UFO mania, America 20thc





Context

* Cook 2009 p240-241
"The first UFO-related Men in Black (MIBs) come from a story told by Albert K. Bender, editor of a UFO publication called the Space Review and head of an organization he called the International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB).  In 1953, he claims that three very strange men dressed in black suits visited him and warned him not to spread any information about UFOs.  Albert and his pals felt they had cornered the market on the truth behind UFOs -- that they were spaceships from another planet.
    "Well, it was 1953.  Maybe it sounded groundbreaking then.
    "In any case, the visit shook Albert so much that he stopped publication of the Space Review, dissolved the ISFB, and warned other UFO buffs to be very cautious.  The last issue of the Space Review said that 'the investigation of the flying saucer mystery and the solution is approaching its final stages.'  Whatever that means."


Costume

* Nesheim & Nesheim 1997 p37
"'Just before the men left one of them said, "I suppose you know you're on your honor as an American.  If I hear another word out of your office you're in trouble."'  This quote, from Gary Barker's book They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, is very similar to the anti-communist propaganda in Men Without Faces.  Both books portray the enemy as an insidious force that utilizes secretive and devious methods of control and intimidation.  Barker's book refers to the alleged silencing of saucer researchers by mysterious 'Men [dressed] In Black.'  It is one of saucerdom's first treatments of the MIB -- strange people who dress in out-of-date clothes and intimidate UFO witnesses.  Some believe the MIB are government agents, others think they are aliens from another world.  In one MIB incident, victim George Cook's neighbor witnessed three strange men, who had visited Cook earlier, shove him into a car equipped with fake plates.  Cook, head of a local saucer group, later claimed to have vague recollections of being forced aboard a flying saucer."

* Cook 2009 p241
"The men usually wear black suits that are somewhat out of style, although the clothing appears new.  They often wear fedora-like hats and dark sunglasses, even at night.  They drive in big black sedans, usually Cadillacs or Lincolns.  Like their suits, the cars are older models but look like they just rolled off the production line.
    "Men in Black are often described as 'foreign.'  Some people say they appear Asian, sometimes Indian, or even described as 'gypsies,' but everyone agrees the MIBs are 'not from around here.'  Apparently because of these allegations, in 1948 Air Force chief of staff General Carl Spaatz told a press conference that 'there is no truth to the rumor that the flying saucers are from Spain, or that they are piloted by Spaniards.'  
    "Some witnesses stress the MIB's long fingers or oddly shaped eyes, Their use of language is strange, sometimes very formal and then suddenly very casual, though their slang is wildly out of date.  They can be secretive and distant but also awkward and inappropriate."