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Conspiracy Theory

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Quote Originally Posted by donnay View Post
This was a great movie! This is a great article that I came across and thought it was worth posting here. There is such a negative connotation that makes people look Anti-American and nut-jobs when they lay suspicions of government cover-ups out in the public. This article sheds some light on the psychological warfare that has kept this country so divided. I also understand more, why Mel Gibson is demonized all the time. Truth is stranger than fiction! “A good conspiracy is unprovable. I mean, if you can prove it, it means they screwed up somewhere along the line.”

Conspiracy Theory

In 1997, Conspiracy Theory, due to the lead roles being played by Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, introduced the movie audience to the mindset of a conspiracy theorist… who turns out to be correct.

Philip Coppens

On the set of the movie Assassins (released in 1995), producer Joel Silver asked screenwriter Brian Helgeland whether he was brewing on any other ideas. There was: Conspiracy Theory. Producer/director Richard Donner liked the idea, arguing that “in the past decade, there has been an increase in the readiness of many people to believe in conspiracy theories. There’s a great comfort in believing that there’s this malignant force that we can justifiably rage against.” To quote from the movie, that force is just “they”. “They who?” “They. I don’t know. That’s why they call them they. And them.”
The central storyline of a US conspiracy theory normally revolves around the fact that most presidential assassins are “lone gunmen”. Even in the case of the Oklahama bombing, Timothy McVeigh acted alone. And in the case of 9/11, it are just 17 hired hands, hired by one religious madman, Osama bin Laden. Official government explanations thus always go for a solo perpetrator, whereby the anti-thesis, “the conspiracy theory”, often argues the crime was committed by several people working together, often for a far different goal than the lone gunman, who often acts out his madness. Sceptics argue that conspiracy theories are seldom proven, though there is of course a difference between a proven fact and a real fact. Or, to quote once again from the movie: “A good conspiracy is unprovable. I mean, if you can prove it, it means they screwed up somewhere along the line.”

In Conspiracy Theory, Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) is an eccentric taxi driver who believes that many world events are actually government conspiracies. The list of conspiracy theories he rattles off at his clients is a good synopsis of the most popular theories that floated about at the time:
- the controversy surrounding fluoride in tap water, claimed to strengthen the teeth, yet believed to have more negative than positive effects in general, which is now (slowly) becoming generally accepted.
- Lee Harvey Oswald as being a patsy, rather than the lone gunman who killed President Kennedy.
- various US militia groups claiming to fight for America’s independence if so required, but who are in truth disguised UN troops, ready to take over the US.
- George H Bush and his New World Order, noting that he was an ex-director of Central Intelligence and a 33rd degree Freemason.
- the 100 dollar note containing a tracking device.
- black helicopters which can fly in whisper mode, so that no-one hears them coming.
Director Richard Donner later revealed that these scenes were ad-libbed by Gibson because they wanted realistic reactions. But it was soon reported that these conspiracy theories ad-libbed by Gibson were his personal views. Gibson did say: “As far as conspiracy theories go, I give some credence to them. I have no doubt that there’s a covert force at work somewhere, keeping things undercover and admitting only certain things to the public.”

It is immediately clear that Jerry is very intense (he even spouts conspiracy theories when there is no-one in the car, not noticing he does not have a fare). And then there are sudden, violent flashbacks, which almost kill him and his passenger as he loses all sense of this reality. Is he having flashbacks because of bad experiences in the past, like the VietNam war? A VietNam war which in his opinion was fought over a bet that Howard Hughes lost to Aristotle Onassis. Jerry is the first to admit he is not “normal”. “To be normal, to drink Coca-Cola and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken is to be in a conspiracy against yourself.”

Conspiracy theorists are often seen as “anti-American”, an easy way for those trying to enforce the government line to try to rally the people behind their cause. But truth is that most Conspiracy theorists are more pro-American than most. And so is Jerry: though he is convinced that there are vast government conspiracies, he is a true patriot: there is an American flag in his apartment and each sinister plot he uncovers, he informs the local assistant district attorney, Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts) about, hoping that the government can stop the evil elements hiding amongst them within their tracks.

But it seems that his visits also have an amorous undertone. In fact, it soon becomes evident that he actually stalks her, watching her work out inside her home. It is therefore difficult to see whether his conspiracy theory is concocted just to see her, or whether he truly believes it. His latest theory is that there have been six major earthquakes in the past 3.5 years; each time the space shuttle was in orbit, which makes him conclude that the space shuttle is testing some secret seismic weapon that causes earthquakes on Earth. He believes that the president’s next visit to Turkey, to coincide with a space shuttle being in orbit, may be used as an opportunity to assassinate the President. Jerry hopes that Sutton will forward this warning to the Secret Service. The outlandishness of the theory and the obsessive nature of Jerry mean that Sutton is less than willing to send the warning up the chain of command.

Jerry’s home is like Fort Knox, with fire-proof walls and a lock on his fridge, so that no-one is able to poison him. The exterior of the flat was actually filmed on Thompson Street in Manhattan’s Soho district. That particular street showed the towers of the World Trade Centre in the background, and is referred to on the DVD as “the symbol of the first foreign terrorist act in modern America”, this at a time when 9/11 had not yet occurred.
We then learn that he reads, highlights and clips newspaper articles, assembling them into his theories, which he writes down in his newsletter, Conspiracy Theory. He sends the individual copies off to his subscribers from various, different post boxes throughout the city… so that no-one would be able to intercept them. Still, it doesn’t take him too long, as he only has five subscribers. It reveals his paranoia… or perhaps awareness of government practices of mail intercept.

At one point, he recognises government employees in the process of carrying out something in the middle of the city and he follows these agents, leading him to an office building, which turns out to be the offices of the CIA. But he himself is identified and this seems to start off several alarm bells, so many in fact that he is kidnapped in the middle of the road and taken to a facility where he is strapped and prepared for an interrogation. The key question he is being asked is: “who knows and to whom have you been talking?” But Jerry does not know what he has done. At this moment in time, the conspiracy-minded viewer will make the connection: Jerry has been subjected to mind control: he has been forced to forget certain parts of his life, which his CIA handlers think he has now remembered, hence they are interrogating him as to find out what he can remember, and what he has told people about what he should have forgotten. For everyone else, it leaves a series of questions which leaves us and Jerry utterly confused.