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‘SIGNS’ COMPETITION CAUSES HOAX CONCERN - 14/06/2002

Despite Disney’s claims that no man-made formations will be created for the promotion of the forthcoming movie ‘Signs’, Canadian researcher Paul Anderson has found good reasons to doubt this, as ANDY THOMAS reports…


Earlier in the year (see our January headlines in Archives), Disney/Touchstone Pictures stated categorically that they would be making no man-made formations to promote the forthcoming movie blockbuster ‘Signs’ (slated by its initial reviewers - see reviews in our May Headlines).

However, Paul Anderson of the Canadian Crop Circle Research Network has reason to doubt this, citing a competition or ‘sweepstakes’ currently being promoted on the official ‘Signs’ website. The competition blurb (to be found at http://www.signs.movies.com/sweeps) reads as follows:

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“Is it a Sign? Win Touchstone Pictures' 'Signs - Destination: Unknown’ Sweepstakes and Find Out!

BURBANK, Calif., May 23 /PRNewswire/ - For years, the signs have been appearing. From now until June 30th, audiences will have a chance to explore their meaning.

So far this year, four crop signs have mysteriously appeared in farms around the world, with 280-300 expected by the end of the year. Most will appear this July and August - it is not unusual for three or four to emerge suddenly in a single day during the summer months - and now moviegoers will have a chance to see these unexplained phenomena up close.

In anticipation of Touchstone Pictures' ‘Signs’, the upcoming thriller from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, moviegoers can enter the ‘Signs' - Destination: Unknown’ sweepstakes. One lucky winner and guest will be flown to the site of the next crop sign occurrence in the continental United States. While there, the winner will record all the strange events on digital video and still camera equipment (provided by Ritz Camera), take a helicopter tour of the site, and get up close in an SUV. The winner will stay two nights in first-class accommodations, and once home, share all the extraordinary happenings with the world via Yahoo! Movies.”


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Putting aside the inaccuracies of the blurb (“280-300” formations is a bit optimistic given last year’s count of nearer 150), why the sureness that America will suddenly be receiving formations of note this year, given that it has had very few indeed in the past couple of years, and nothing on a level with the spectacular designs of the UK? Could a widely-publicised competition really risk the non-arrival of a promised formation for the winners, or the embarrassing appearance of something rather scrappier than winners may expect? The only solution to this would surely be to ensure that a good formation WAS available for viewing… Paul Anderson, writing on his website ‘CCCRN News’, says:


“In light of circulating rumours regarding Disney/Touchstone Pictures possibly having 'many' commissioned fake crop formations being made worldwide (?) to promote the upcoming 'Signs' movie, I personally doubt they would go to those lengths to promote a single movie (an apparently typical Hollywood 'alien invasion' type flick according to reviews from advanced screenings) unless there is a larger agenda afoot to further debunk the whole phenomenon. But it is interesting how they could apparently 'promise' to be able to whisk the winner away to the latest 'real' formation in the USA complete with 'strange events' unless they perhaps had one ready-made and waiting... Disney had earlier publicly denied they would be having any formations made to promote the film.”

”If a man-made formation is commissioned to be made for the openly-stated purpose of being used in a film, commercial or contest with a farmer's permission, etc., fine. If, though, such a formation were to be 'passed off' as a real one for publicity purposes, that is irresponsible, although it should be relatively easy to find out which ones they were, as Disney would have legally required the farmer's consent.”

”Question is, what are Disney's intentions by doing this? Just pure entertainment or something else? While the film certainly will help make more people aware of the phenomenon, the portrayal of 'evil aliens' being the cause doesn't help serious research, although, as someone pointed out, most of the public now thinks this is mostly nonsense anyway, thanks to some ill-conceived documentaries in recent years. That being said, we should remember this is Hollywood entertainment, not a documentary. Our focus should continue to be the investigation of the phenomenon itself and not get too wrapped up in associated sideline entertainment. The possible danger, though, is that such 'promo formations', if done, could be used to further the idea in the public's mind that the entire phenomenon is nothing but man-made hoaxes and land art, and for that reason we should at least keep an eye on developments like this.”


Any lucky competition winners, then, might like to wonder very carefully about the origin of what it is they are finally treated to seeing…


Thanks to Paul Anderson. The Canadian Crop Circle Research Network’s website can be found at:

http://www.geocities.com/cropcirclecanada

ANDY THOMAS
'Signs' publicity photo showing computer-manipulated fake 'Mel Gibson' formation - a precedent for physically man-made patterns..?
'Signs' publicity photo showing computer-manipulated fake 'Mel Gibson' formation - a precedent for physically man-made patterns..?

 

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