zaterdag 23 augustus 2008

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

Jerry (Mel Gibson) is a rather paranoid, slightly delusional, and slightly disturbed conspiracy theorist. If not engaged in conspiratorial theories, he works as a taxi driver who seems to be constantly on the edge, fueled, presumably, by sufficient doses of caffeine leaving him constantly rambling on about a whole host of conspiracy theories to his bewildered taxi fares who all give the viewer the distinct impression of just wanting to be left alone. His living apartment is a littery mess, and the level of his paranoia is clearly demonstrated by his nutty habit of putting locks on not only his refrigerator but the food containers stored in it as well (after all, if he is so concerned about the prospect of being poisoned then what about the cups he is using to drink his coffee out of?). This rather blatant caricature of the conspiracy theorist (or researcher), an acting performance that admittedly perhaps can only be accomplished by someone of the caliber of Mel Gibson, sets the freakish tone for the entire movie. Viewers are thus left with the notion that basically conspiracy theorists are individuals automatically suffering from various expressions of psychopathology, namely: hyperactivity, delusions and paranoia.

Therefore the movie seems to sponsor a critical frame of reference which rejects anyone who choses to scrutinize and subsequently criticize the society he or she lives in. True, the conspiracy theorist in the movie is of the sympathetic hero type but his level of craziness far outweigh his credibility as an astute critic of society, an interpretation that is all the more evident when it is revealed that Jerry is the victim of a mind control program suffered earlier in life. Thus the movie suggests that his mind is warped to begin with and it is but to be expected that all kinds of mental borderline-insane non-sense is churned out by it.

Therefore, through some conspiratorial watershed event, should conspiracy theories become more prevalent in the future the public is already being prepped to receive budding conspiracy theorists with ample doses of ridicule and contempt. Remember, this movie was made in 1997, i.e. 4 years before 911 = the designated watershed event. Even George W Bush emphasized "not to tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories" shortly after 911.
So, on the one hand, you have the emergence of all kinds of conspiracy theories disseminated most significantly through the Internet and, on the other hand, you have movies such as the one discussed here, seeking to condemn the budding conspiracy theorist by ridicule. As such, this movie, though charming as it may be in some cinematographic respects, may be interpreted as a de-facto psychological counterintelligence operation aimed at thwarting (budding) critics of society and government.

Towards the end of the movie the meat and potatoes of the theme of the movie is revealed. It is confirmed that yes indeed their was such a thing as a CIA Mind Control program ('MK-ULTRA') but it was terminated already in 1973. Then, what will turn out to be the bad guy of the movie ("Jonas"), continued its research independently from, the movie suggests, any government organizations. Of course, the technology of MK-ULTRA then was purportedly stolen and its mind control subjects were deployed in the private sector. This makes it look as if, yes the government was involved in Mind Control, but no they were not responsible for any ensuing acts of assassination. Instead, the movie makes it look as though historic assassinations carried out by Mind Controlled "Manchurian Candidates" were done by renegade factions operating independently from the government, the latter which then consequently walks away from any blame. By sticking to this theme, where the bad guys are invariably just some radical renegade governmental offshoot, limited in scope and authority, it seems never appropriate or righteous to accuse government, or a governmental organization, in its entirety. This theme can also be seen in effect in the Psyop works of Dan Brown with his filmed book 'The DaVinci Code' and other movies such as 'Shooter'.

Therefore the function of this movie, with respect to programming, on the viewing audience is twofold. First, it is to help persuade the viewer to reject through ridicule and contempt, people engaged in critically reviewing society and government. And secondly, it is to help convince the viewer that if there is government involvement in criminal or unethical activity it is always being perpetrated by small criminal break-away factions spun off from government rather than intrinsic involvement by the government.

Let's now home in on the very concept of conspiracy theory. A theorist is someone who engages in theories, or speculation, with respect to some arbitrary subject matter. However, a more ambitious researcher would want to be able to test his or her idea or theory with some means of verification or fact checking. Compared to science this would simply be the analogue of experiment or observation. Therefore, if a theory turns out to be not supported by the facts belonging to the case, it is in need of revision and afterwards again should be subjected to fact-checking and altered accordingly if need be. This process of refinement must continue until both theory and experiment are ideally most compatible with each other... Therefore people who take their research a bit more serious and who sincerely strive to have their theories conform to actuality as much as possible, would much better be called conspiracy scientists rather than be given the handicapped one-legged label of conspiracy theorist.

Returning to the movie, here comes the self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist Jerry who even quite frankly states in the movie that neither of his theories can be proven, arguing that a good conspiracy theory simply cannot be proven. As such, Jerry throws what little left of his own credibility out of the window and thus leaving the viewer with the impression even more that people who engage in conspiracy theories, no matter how sympathetic its authors may be, are in actual fact but mere fruitloops, one way or another.

Then there are some dialogues/passages that I thought were rather salient and deserved extra addressing:

"Jerry: They'll stick me in the same place as Oswald, just another lunatic acting alone.
Alice: Oswald killed the President, is that what you're planning to do Jerry?
Jerry: No, on the contrary."

This can be counted as a confirmation to the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing John F Kennedy, which is ironically and remarkably quite unlike what real life 'conspiracy theorists' believe by and large.

"Jerry: The Oliver Stone-Bush Connection. If anyone who has the information he's got and had a national podium to shout it from, they actually let him do it? No it's quite clear that he is a disinformation junkie for them....The fact that he's still alive says it all. He probably should be dead but he's not."

Well I agree that Stone is a disinfo agent but not according to the specifics given here. Stone made "JFK", a movie that is justly critical of the official "lone nutter" explanatory fairy tale. Indeed it stands to reason to suspect that the powers that be never would allow a movie to come out revealing the whole truth about the Kennedy assassination, especially if it is produced by such a large movie-house as Warner Bros. Since the people responsible for the assassination are never revealed in the movie it is fair to assume that the maker of "JFK" is indeed in league with the same powers that were responsible for the assassination. As researcher Eric Jon Phelps pointed out, the actual hand in the Kennedy assassination is hinted at when DA Jim Garrison utters the phrase "Black is white and white is black", a slogan Phelps maintains is listed in the book of Spiritual Exercises belonging to apprentices of the Jesuit Order. Indeed, since Kennedy refused to recognize the Pope's temporal power in the US he made himself a open target for assassination by the Vatican to be executed under the auspices of its Praetorial Guard, the Jesuits. So I would agree with Jerry only if the slogan "The Oliver Stone-Bush Connection" would be replaced by "The Oliver Stone-Vatican Connection". That this may indeed give a more accurate rendition of actuality is further evidenced by the fact that Mel Gibson himself is very friendly with the Jesuits and that the Gibsons since long have had strong ties with Opus Dei.

"Lone gunman assassins have three names. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark David Chapman."

Although it is true that the full names given here comprise three names, the truth-content of the statement as a whole is in severe doubt. Personally, I think the case of the lone gunman assassin is very weak compared to a conspiratorial interpretation in all three case alluded to. However, to slip a semi-truth into a sentence like this tends to make it look as if the whole sentence is true to a gullible viewer. As such, ironically a technique is laid to bear aiming at deceptively trying to dissuade the viewer precisely from seeking refuge to conspiracy theories since, by construction, 'lone gunman theories' refute the need for appealing to conspiratorial accounts to explain away the transpired events.

To recap, as ironic as it may seem I maintain that this movie needs to, at least, be frowned upon by 'conspiracy theorists' and the like, rather than being received with open arms. In other words, this should not be one of your banner movies folks....

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