The central theme of most conspiracy theories is: “I’m too smart to fall for all that.” A subset of that theme is: “It’s just too simple. It can’t be that simple.” The mothers of all conspiracy theories are Roswell, the JFK assassination and 9/11. All of these events have relatively succinct explanations, but no one falls for them. Everyone knows there’s more to the story than all that. There’s no way that a little guy like Lee Harvey Oswald could bring down an American President. There’s no way that those things that crashed in Roswell were weather balloons, and there’s no way that a bunch of people from third world countries could topple the greatest country on Earth. If you don’t believe me look at the evidence.
Perhaps it says something about me and the entertainment venues I enjoy, but minutes after the towers fell on 9/11/2001, I thought about how the conspiracy theorists would spin this. I knew that no matter how much information was revealed, people would search for something more. It’s just too easy and simple and succinct to say that nineteen men boarded planes, hijacked them, and attacked American centers of military and commerce.
In some ways movies and TV shows have fostered the growth of the conspiracy theory in modern day America. We all watch them, and we’ve all see the evidence point to the black guy, but we’ve all come to realize that it’s never the black guy on TV shows and movies. We all know that civil rights groups would censure the show if that were the case, that producers wouldn’t get funding for such a show, and that corporate execs wouldn’t give the thumbs up on such a show. Maybe we don’t all know that, maybe we just see patterns. Maybe we just know that the first person accused is never the culprit, maybe we know that nothing fits in tight, succinct balls in such a way in these shows, or maybe we look up at the clock and realize that there’s still a half hour left in the show. Whatever the case, we’ve come to expect a little twist in our plots, we’ve come to demand something more than a simple murder of a simple victim with a simple culprit to blame. We’ve arraived at a point where we know it’s got to be the white collar, corporate exec that selfishly wanted to take the victim’s land, so he could build a conglomerate smokestack that would ruin the planet, and he would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids.
We’re all dying to be judged smart by our peers, and we have a tremendous inferiority complex that leads us into believing this stuff. How many people are willing to admit that they have no street smarts? How many people say that they are pretty naive on most issues? Telling someone they are not book smart is one thing, but if you tell someone they have no street smarts get ready for a blowback, for they will fall back on the X-Files mantra: “believe nothing.” Unless it is negative that is. If it’s something negative about corporate America, Rich America, or America in general, then they will believe it.