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Playing With / The Men in Black

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Basic Trope: An agency or group maintains a Masquerade or other secret.

  • Straight: The Alien Police is a group of humans responsible for keeping other humans from knowing of the existence of aliens. They are on contract with world governments to do their work, and they do it by telling people not to share what they know about what they've seen. Officially, they don't exist.
  • Exaggerated: Even the Conspiracy Theorists claim they don't know about them.
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  • Downplayed: They allow some people to tell their closest friends, so long as they don't tell on them.
  • Justified: The aliens on Earth want to remain hidden, and the Alien Police are doing the job for them.
  • Inverted: An alien government covers up the existence of Earth.
  • Subverted: Someone sees an alien craft and freely tells people without fear.
  • Double Subverted: ...until a member of the Alien Police overhears them and reports it.
  • Parodied: The Alien Police make hilariously weak, pathetic, and half-hearted attempts at protecting and hiding alien secrets.
  • Zigzagged: Alien Police members constantly call on Bob for repeatedly letting the secret of aliens out.
  • Averted: Either aliens don't really exist, or the Alien Police don't.
  • Enforced: The show is set in a timeline where aliens have migrated to Earth and colonized large parts of it. The writers decided it would be a good idea to have someone maintain the secret about the aliens.
  • Lampshaded:
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    • "I thought this was the free world!! Why do you want me not to tell the secret?!" Which would often get "You have no secret to share" as a reply.
    • "Sometimes, people need to be protected from the truth. Sad, but true. That's where we come in."
  • Invoked: Alex and his family move into a town where half the townspeople are aliens in disguise. Alex insists they leave the area straight away if the Alien Police aren't going to show up.
  • Exploited: The Alien Police are genuinely aliens disguised as humans, trying to keep their own presence secret.
  • Defied:
    • Bob defies the Alien Police by letting the secret about the aliens out. Soon, the world is aware, and a mercenary organization is set up to drive the aliens away, forcing Bob and some Alien Police members to team up.
    • The Alien Police, after some analysis, has figured out that the "Generic Government Agent" look has become too intimidating and attention-grabbing for the agency's good, so they have asked its agents to use plainclothes more often.
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  • Discussed: "Aliens exist? Should I not tell in case someone calls?"
  • Conversed: "Why is there always someone who hunts people who find out secrets?!"
  • Deconstructed: In the modern era of government leaks and instantaneous communication, such an organization cannot remain secret forever. Somebody would sneak a picture, or some Snowden-type would leak the information to the press. And the revelation of an organization that was brutally suppressing information and violating civil rights would lead to massive political scandal and possibly result in several indictments.
  • Reconstructed: The AP's leadership recognized that the clandestine secrecy they've relied on for so long would, in the information world they live in now, at best be temporary, so they develop plans for the agency to adopt and adapt as needed:
    • No one said they had to acknowledge their existence even in the face of "purported" evidence. If need be, their supposed government superiors could cut them loose officially (dissolution, spin-off, disavowal, who knows?) and let them go off on their own.
    • A controlled information "leak" about the kinds of aliens they deal with could convince even those who learn about the whole aliens-are-here thing that the aliens deserve protection, or that the AP is doing an important job.
    • The AP's agents are the epitome of the Consummate Professional, which means they take their job and the code of ethical conduct that goes with it absolutely seriously. Getting a visit might be scary or inconvenient, but if they're not being an active nuisance to you are you really going to get angry at them?
    • The AP has Sufficiently Advanced Aliens in their Rolodex. Any attempt at making the knowledge of their existence go beyond the level of a mere rumor inevitably meets a bleak end.
    • They know that few people will believe the evidence, and hide would be very suspicious, so they do nothing.

Here come The Men in Black, they won't let you remember.
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