27 July 2008


I haven't written on anything in more than a month, not having seen any interesting conspiracy theories. But I read this yesterday New Yorker piece on Tang Jie, a young Chinese philosophy student who posted this video on a Chinese site called Sina, where it got over a million hits. The same video on YouTube has only gotten a little over a thousand, but I think it would have little meaning to most Americans. The video is made in the style of Western conspiracy videos, with still images, lofty music and poorly written, vague titles. Unlike your average American conspiracy theorist, however, Jie appears to be a modest, bookish philosophy student with a deep love for his country. He criticizes Western media, implying a conspiracy to present China as a backwards and evil country.

The video itself makes little sense to me, beyond the basic idea. The visuals are hard to understand and the argument is fragmented and far from complete. Apparently Jie made the video because he was sick of seeing so much distorted information about China online, and couldn't find anything that opposed the mainstream perspective. The video itself is relatively innocuous. The only image that really caught my attention is one of the Dalai Lama and George Bush meeting over a swastika, the relevance of which I don't quite understand, though I guess ambiguous imagery is a convention of these videos. It uses a lot of empty rhetoric about the Chinese standing up, the truth leading the people, etc.

Despite the resemblances to video like "Fuck the Corporate Media"--which you can view in my last post--the essential difference of this film is that it sides with the Chinese government. Most conspiracy theories involve the collusion of the media and the government, but 2008! China stand up! only accuses the foreign, and to a lesser extent foreign nations, of a conspiracy against the Chinese. Jie doesn't resemble the traditional conspiracy theorist, and the video has a more earnest tone. It's certainly less mockable than "Fuck the Corporate Media."

It addresses the controversy over the Beijing Olympics, which is a product of the general feeling of China's growing power in the world, and the predicted opposition of the US, and theorizes a new Cold War between the US and China, a compelling if extreme idea. But this is obviously another genre convention, taking the seed of an idea to its most absurd conclusion.

09 July 2008

Fuck the Corporate Media

"Fuck The Corporate Media" analyzes the tactics, both subtle and blatant, employed by the corporate media to control your mind. This video covers just one day in the lies of the corporate media. See for yourself how they sell us out in this startling comparison between what really happened on August 21st, 2003 in Portland, Oregon, and what they say about what happened. Fuck the corporate media!

The problem with videos like this one is that they're criticism is not interesting or well articulated. They try to make corporate media look bad by catching them in lies and distortions, but most of their examples are pretty subjective, like a news anchor changing a word from "backpack" to "equipment" supposedly in order to make protesters sound more like terrorists. My favorite quote from the video is when the narrator, a young woman with a bandanna covering the lower half of her face, says of a reporter in the middle of the protest, "What's really pissing her off right there is that people are saying what they want to say, without being controlled." She relies on an idea, I don't know where she gets it from, that television news is the only source of information available. People say what they want to say all the time, on blogs and news websites and movies and books. If anything network news is becoming more and more obsolete, and while the news they produce is certainly biased, narrowly focused and obnoxious, it's hardly in "control" of anything.

I touched on this in my post on Mailer's The Armies of the Night, but I think this video clearly demonstrates the empty immitation of 60s protest culture. I guess it's just hard for me to believe that "Fuck the Corporate Media" is as urgent a cause as civil rights or the Vietnam War. The claim that this video "analyzes" the techniques of the corporate media to "control your mind" is a bold one. Though it is divided into sections, the video pretty much lacks any structure. It's basically the same imagery and rhetoric for twenty minutes, which, believe me, gets really boring. I guess not everyone has the time to create their own Loose Change, but this isn't much more interesting than a long winded vlog.

Wrayer, who is the YouTube user that posted the video, and I assume might refer to the narrator as well, gets a little emotional at the end, after showing a clip of her accosting a reporter, calling her a liar. She then guiltily admits that the woman is probably a nice lady, and says "I wish I could have been more articulate at the time," before going into a sort of stoner rant about how she just can't control her anger in the face of the media's mind controlling distortions.

03 July 2008

The Truth About HD

So I've always thought that television commercials would eventually become people's primary source of entertainment. They seem to get more and more innovative, self-referential, and narratively complex as other mediums deteriorate in a pathetic attempt to keep up with the demands of the masses. Maybe not. But I think it's cool that this commercial I saw on tv yesterday uses what I consider a conspiracy theory aesthetic.

This other one with the dude is really more of just an action movie thing, like Mission Impossible. The line that really gets me from the first one is, "The truth your cable company doesn't want you to hear."

02 July 2008

Google Conspiracy

I've been waiting for this for a while. A friend of mine who works for the Blogger part of Google wrote about a problem at Blogger which occurred yesterday. A bunch of anti-Obama blogs were flagged as spam blogs, apparently because of a mass email sent out by a network of blogs called Just Say No Deal, which caused all of them to be flagged. One of my blogs was also recently flagged, so I can attest that this can happen without some sort of ulterior motive on the part of Google. This explanation didn't stop many of the flagged bloggers from claiming that Google had purposely shut down their blogs because they are anti-Obama. This is obviously pretty silly, but having a friend on the inside, I have a pretty good idea of how much power the people over at Google have, at least in the blogging world. Google being as ubiquitous as it is, and having as much access as it has to information, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone cooked up a juicy Google conspiracy. Too bad this one was pretty lame.