At the height of Y2K madness, UK police reportedly feared shows like Star Trek and The X-Files could turn fans into mindless drones. A secret dossier uncovered by Dr. David Clarke, who teaches investigative journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, proves that Scotland Yard was on red alert to monitor the fandom.
The UK government believed these devoted fans would tear through the streets in a madness-induced frenzy or start a cult. Dogs and cats getting along, that sort of thing. This investigation was inspired by 1997’s Heaven’s Gate mass suicide, where 39 cultists killed themselves to follow the Hale Bopp comet.
Clarke discovered the dossier — titled UFO New Religious Movements and the Millennium — while researching a book. He found that the UK’s Metropolitan Police were terrified by the potential for cults. After learning that the Heaven’s Gate members were “ardent followers” of both shows mentioned above, the Met began to monitor UK fans of the shows:
The American TV shows Roswell and Dark Skies and the film The Lawnmower Man were also monitored to protect the country from rioting and cyber attacks.
Special Branch was concerned that people hooked on such material could go into a frenzy triggered by the millennium leading to anarchy.
An undated confidential report to the Metropolitan Police, thought to have been filed around 1998-99, listed concerns about conspiracy theorists who believed the end of the world was nigh.
“Fuel is added to the fire by television dramas and feature films mostly produced in America,” the report said. “These draw together the various strands of religion, UFOs, conspiracies, and mystic events and put them in an entertaining storyline.”
It added: “Obviously this is not sinister in itself, what is of concern is the devotion certain groups and individuals ascribe to the contents of these programmes.”
Well, it’s understandable to fret over how Star Trek: Voyager, which aired during the period leading up to Y2K, could inspire a Seven of Nine-induced frenzy.
Because, as everyone knows, resistance IS futile.
Of course, the Met denied all knowledge of this dossier’s existence. But Clarke’s website contains images of the documents. The report stated, “The problem is that growing numbers are not treating this as entertainment, and finding it impossible to divorce fantasy from reality.” Even though the Heaven’s Gate cultists were based in San Diego, police said there was no end to the madness: “It is being imported into the UK.”
This story sounds exactly like an episode of The X-Files.