Our Fascination with Aliens and UFOs As Reflected in Popular Culture

Retro Staff Comments

Alien Glow in the Dark Toy


Mankind’s belief in extraterrestrial life forms dates back to at least ancient Greece. In more modern times, the fascination with aliens visiting Earth was reawakened in 1897 with the release of H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel, “The War of the Worlds,” in which he described a horrifying alien invasion in southern England. On Halloween night in 1938, actor, director, and writer Orson Welles terrified Americans with his radio program based on Wells’ book. Some listeners, tuning into the program after the introductory disclaimer, believed that alien spacecraft had really landed in New Jersey.

The War of Worlds Movie Tee

The report of a crashed UFO at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 did nothing to quell the fervor of alien enthusiasts. Amidst the flurry of the Roswell incident, the term “flying saucer” was first used. Since then, there has been a steady stream of interest in all things extraterrestrial, and this fascination has featured strongly in our popular culture. This includes TV shows, movies, comic books and even home decor.

Erratic Invader UFO Tin Toy

Roswell, New Mexico UFO Sign

Alien Inspired Modern Table Lamp


Those with a more than a fleeting interest in the otherworldly have been enjoying movies and syndicated television shows featuring aliens since the early 1950s. The movie “The Day the Eart Stood Still” was released in 1951 and the movie version of “The War of the Worlds” debuted in 1953. Syndicated shows that have lasted for several years are “Ancient Aliens” (since 2010 and 119 episodes), “The X-Files” (1993–2002, 2016 with 208 episodes) and of course, “Star Trek” (original series 1966–1969, sequels 1987–2001, prequels 2001–5 and 2017). The obsession never seems to wane.

Star Trek Title Sequence TV Show Opening Sign

Alien Mosaic Star Trek TV Show Tee

I’ve recently noticed a resurgence of alien-themed products in stores where teens and young adults shop, with merch like t-shirts, hats, keychains and other gift items. I think it’s safe to say our fascination with aliens and flying saucers is never going away.

Mars Attacks Trading Card Sign

Martian Invader Walking Tin Toy

Since the early 1900s people have dedicated their lives to the study of the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects—called “ufologists”. World UFO day is celebrated throughout the world on July 2. It’s a day to watch the skies, share information with other enthusiasts and “to encourage our governments to be truthful about their findings.” So you may want to get out there on the 2nd to see if you can spot anything “other-wordly” or simply take a look at our cool alien offerings at RetroPlanet.com.

Last updated: May 04, 2017
Filed under: Remember When Tagged with: aliens, home decor, retro movies, retro TV