all seeing pie in the sky

Point of information – I’m not a subscriber to most conspiracy theories. By this I mean, whilst cynical and suspicious, I maintain a “credibility radar” which helps filter if not entirely dismiss  the most excessive of the tin pot brigade, and in any case, drawing attention to some of the Internet’s more fringe elements (like supporters of the BNP or people who speak Esperanto) can never end well. For the avoidance of doubt, whilst believing that the death of Dr. David Kelly was somewhat convenient narrative-wise, my advancing years has diluted my initial youthful belief that an order to kill him came from somewhere around the corridors of power you hear so much about. There is suspicion and doubt, yes, though not perhaps conspiracy.

On a different perspective, the ‘truth movement’ set up around the 7/7 bombings is, almost to a man, complete rubbish, and in most cases essentially thinly veiled attempts to give racist ranting a fresh new angle. Even if you do find a 7/7 “truther” who doesn’t come across as a lonely old racist commenting on how expendable British Muslims are, you’re usually asked to subscribe to the fact that four out of work actors were paid to hang around Luton train station for a bit, before turning around to drive home whilst pre-laid bombs on tube trains and buses were detonated by…I never get up to that point. G4S, maybe. Though of course, maybe not G4S. They’re incompetent but this isn’t the right time in my life for a legal case to be brought against me. In any  case, you see my point. I happen to believe that it’s somewhat far fetched to subscribe to any theory which hangs on the central premise of Transport For London also dabbling in a bit of rep theatre.

Anyway, on with the main meat of the post. If there’s one tiny part of the Internet where my heart has most definitely been stolen, it’s the 0.05% of YouTube dedicated to Illuminati conspiracy theories. Maybe this says a lot about the kind of women to whom I’m attracted because I’ve not felt to alive in years.

Take the Private Eye cover on this page, published at the height of the London riots. For most people of sound mind reading the speech-bubble punchline, the satire is fairly clear. It’s London, the Olympics are coming, so why not join the two together with a bit of British musn’t grumble attitude (for which, see yesterday’s blog on whether we can/should just enjoy the Olympics). For the Illuminati truth seeker, however, the satire is completely lost, which is why there’s a number of videos in the cover is shown as evidence of a plot (presumably by well known state mole Ian Hislop) to cause/create/sponsor a terrorist attack during the Opening Ceremony. What satire might have been evident in the joke dissolves like so much kettle steam, and with as much mass in the resulting evidence.

Mandeville is another common ‘evidence’ given to prove that the secret lizard people/Freemason cult/whoever-it-is who rules the nation has infiltrated LOGOC. One video uploaded to YouTube which provides this evidence points to the obvious (the single eye being an obvious New World Order trope, the launch of the mascots being paraded on a check pattern floor, that sort of thing.) What makes my heart flutter is a caption written in Papyrus which informs the enthralled reader that “Mandeville” is French for “dead city”, another clue that London is the target for an Illuminati/terrorist attack combo meal.

I don’t speak French (though I do know what happens with iron fililings near a magnet, so that’s the Comprehensive system for you). A quick thumb through a dictionary/Google shows that  “mande” is not the French for “dead”, and even if it were, there’s no joined up dots to show why we suddenly need to be bilingual when pointing out ‘false flag’ terrorist plots on the Internet.

Not satisfied with misunderstanding satire or mistranslating basic conversational French (well, maybe “dead” has to come up in conversation in France, I don’t know, never been. “Are these snails dead, waiter?” perhaps, it’s not important right now), the determined crew at the HMS Cuckoo-Bananas sent me straight to the garage forecourt for roses and cards by way of a video with over 250,000 hits purporting to prove that the London Games have been a state-sponsored terrorist attack in the making for over 100 years.

A radio phone in guest drew the lines in front of me as clearly as though he were sketching a loveheart with our initials in them. The London 2012 logo, he explained, can be rearranged to spell the word “ZION”. Well, I did check this claim, and as you can see, if you squint a bit and use more imagination than you’ve ever used before, the theory is absolutely correct.

Well, he continued, the poem “Jerusalem” written by William Blake mentions “a new Jerusalem” being built in England, and that was back in the early 19th century. As it’s undisputed that our Illuminati/Jewish lizards/whoever-the-Heck rulers have put subtle design quirks in everything from Olympic coins to road signs to prove their worth in a Pinky and the Brain sort of way, clearly Blake was the start of terrorism’s longest, widest story arc? Of course he was. It’s conjecture, but that’s the kind of fact we like round here!

When I say “I’ve fallen in love” with this sort of thing, I genuinely mean it. Clearly, it holds up as much weight as the pastry around a butter pie, and by most peoples measurement, it’s no more credible than those people who claim to been warned off going into Central London/Manchester/Madrid/Bali by a friendly Imam who just happened to be passing by. It’s the worst kind of urban myth gone feral, picked up and perpetuated by the kind of Internet-based obsessive who would have a use sticking torches into filing cabinets were it easier to do so. As I said, my suspicion and cynical side knows no bounds, and as such I’d rather believe that something dodgy is going on rather than ever sign up to the notion that our elected elders know best. I certainly don’t believe that our unelected elders of bankers and World Bank chiefs know best, though by the same measure, I’m not about to agree with the YouTube nutjob consensus that Julia Gillard, the Pope and possibly Prince Harry are all shape-shifting lizards.

Yes, there’s a thrill about the most extreme kind of conspiracy theory, something subversive even. I prefer to look at the funny side too. “Love” is the emotion which carries with it the freedom from remorse, boredom or frustration in a life not necessarily led to the full, which I guess is why the light and blessed relief which comes from watching this tripe has lifted me so highly. Don’t ever stop being suspicious about the people who claim to rule over us – though if you start telling me that the chess-board floor design which happens to be in two of my favourite pubs mean that my pints of Oxford Gold are tainted by New World Order mind serum, I may have to punch you in the nose.  

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Dressed by YouTube

It has been vintage year for the viral video, cyberspace’s modern take on You’ve Been Framed. With so many hits wrapping themselves around the internet like so many fashionably knotted scarves, it’s easy to forget that many web video phenomena live mayfly existences. From auto-tuned news to Russian easy listening, it’s all being going on down YouTube way…

One fantastic example doing the rounds at the moment tweeks the memory of people of a certain age who recall both Nathan Barley and the Charlie Brooker penned TVGoHome listings for fictional sit-com Cunt, which accurately predicted the direction of youthful fashion trends; however hard people try to look different, eventually looks converge into parades of the identical.

By way of social commentary far more important than it first seems, the video below not only rehabilitates use of the word “Dickhead” as a credible swearword but strikes at the Hoxton look raging across the country with sharp satire. The synth-pop sideswipe is more than a mere fun song to pass the time, sealing in time as it does evidence of fashion’s continued ability to magnetise enough people towards a given look and style almost without trying. Far from being a negative judgement on those individuals within the video – although its end does strike at particular examples outside the main stereotype – my take on “Dickhead” is it having more comment on the fashion ‘industry’. Is one question to take from this video why so many more blokes feature than women? Are these lads of the 90s forced – or being forced – to maintain a youthful image?

Being a man of a certain age does not exclude me from some of the choices available on the High Street. I do question if it’s worth stepping outside looking like an Auton after an all-night orgy at Topman. New takes on the t-shirt-and-jeans combo are timeless; I cannot fathom the thinking behind lenseless specs unless such choices are so layered in self-referential irony as to be unfathomable to everyone but the wearer. Those in the industry may point out the Catch-22 situation in which they operate – distinctive names on our High Streets need to make a profit, which comes from selling what is popular, just not necessarily what is distinct.

In addition to ridiculing the ‘ubiquitous individuality’, “Dickhead” happens to be a damn fine tune, a rare treat indeed. While many attempts at viral vids and memes die before they make it onto your average News Feed. For being relevant, sharp and funny, “Dickhead” deserves its status as an internet classic. Social scientists should be referencing this just as teenagers appear to be referencing testcards….

For Great Justinz

Justin Bieber is the 12/14/18/22 year old starlet beloved by tweens and loathed by the rest of us. His schtik – young tyke discovered on YouTube raised to megastarstatus – smells fishier than Fleetwood Dock, nevertheless he has become one of the most successful young pop stars in modern times. Marketed to the nth degree as the Timberlake for those with channel-hopping attention spans, his legions of fans have an obsessive character which borders on the evangelical. No website is safe from the “Bieberatti”: entire towns could be filled by their number, their on-line enthusiasm blanking out debate on almost every other subject.

Bieber, of course, has very little to do with the music released in his name. Listening to any of his songs is very difficult. Not in a Mogwai or Inuit throat singing difficult, more overdoing the post-production by a year sort of way. Clearly his lyrics are meaningless, and obviously he has no sincerity in singing them. I can’t escape the view from the wilder parts of my brain that, like a washed up end-of-the-pier variety singer, he walks off stage after a gig to light up a cigarette and swear like a garage mechanic.

Created by the Internet, Bieber has his career shaped and ultimately decided by the on-line world. An infamous messageboard tried to send him to North Korea for a special gig, YouTube videos are hacked and replaced by hardcore pornography. His television appearances are rare, like terrorists in Afghan caves he only appears in website form. His autobiography will be the first tangible sign of his existence after his birth certificate, although this could feasibly be a hardcopy print out of a Licence User Agreement.

The ickle pop boy nobody likes has, it now seems, won over another audience without lifting a finger or singing a note – okay, that’s what he already does, what I mean is, through the work of an unknown DJ Shamantis, a reworked version of a Bieber single has become an instant internet phenomenon. Fittingly for Bieber, outside the walls of the world wide web, the new version of his song is totally unknown. He has failed where “Newport State of Mind” succeeded in that field, at least, a rare loss.

The track – which at over 30 minutes long is an average Bieber track multiplied nine fold – can be enjoyed here. Stretched to its absolute slowest using a music manipulation programme – the claim is 800% slower, something causing Doctors of Music Tech and Production some concern – the resulting soundscape is unexpected, immense, a touch pretentious and absolutely mesmerising. It’s SunO))) on ket, whalesong as re imagined by Tiesto, or both muddled up with Sigur Rós and Cocteau Twins.

If this is the only piece of ambient music the “Bieberatti” listen to throughout their entire lives, the experiment would be worth it. Okay, so there are questions to be asked from this – is this any less meaningless than the Hallmark card lyrics of the original and so on – although I lean towards the side of the argument which considers the track a successful reimagining. Think TATU taking on “How Soon Is Now”, for an obvious example.

Like all pop starlets, Beiber will fade. His celebrity is temporary, his songs will not last into the next decade if that. The Internet will create, form, and reject more like him. However, the ‘net can also make unexpected superstars at its own behest and will (I’m looking at you, Rick Astley, and no, I’m not linking to THAT SONG…). This “800% slower” version sound exactly like some of the best tracks of its kind in my collection, and if it’s taken to be superb or nothing more than Enigma for the 21st century, it has got more attention from the ‘fashionable’ side of music than any of the original material. Enjoy it for what it is, Beiber is ultimately musical candyfloss, 30 minutes worth of his stuff in real time would make you very ill…