Once upon a time, an ex and I lived in a small, paranoid, mountain town in Maryland where everyone except us looked alike. One of the few entertainments to be had was renting videos. Videos (store’s actual name) had started to stock a few DVDs, but videos were mostly what Videos was about. They had a real sweet deal, too. You could rent five older videos for five dollars for five days, but if you were one minute late, you might as well have bought all five videos several times over.
Because it was a paranoid little mountain town where everyone looked alike, there was a huge selection of what I like to call “Weird Shit” videos. They had your Bigfoot, they had your Satanists, they had your ghosts, and your conspiracy theories. UFO videos hogged a lot of shelf space in the Weird Shit section.
I can’t remember if Youtube existed, back then. It wouldn’t have mattered to me, if it had. I had a dial-up internet connection, and my phone line didn’t work half the time. I couldn’t watch videos on the internet. I could barely send out emails. I was starved for entertainment. I was dying for fun. I was hot to rent every single video in Video’s Weird Shit section. One particular day, I got ten videos. Two five dollar deals. I think I snagged all of the UFO videos. Anybody who came in behind me hoping to find that the truth was out there was shit out of luck.
Of course, the videos were a disappointment. They were mostly IN SEARCH OF…-type television shows, and I realized I’d already seen many of them the instant I started the tapes. The ones I hadn’t seen had nothing new or startling to tell me. They were rehashes of the other shows I’d already seen. There was nothing to do but stubbornly keep watching. Giving up was not an option, although it should have been.
I saved the best for last. It was a documentary about Hitler’s flying saucer program, a subject I knew little about. It hadn’t been covered at all in my history classes at school, naturally. At the very least, I was going to see weird shit I hadn’t seen before.
The video consisted entirely of a chubby man delivering a dry, monotone lecture. He didn’t even have visual aids. It was just a very amateur film of a lecturer lecturing. He told me and the camera about the various models of flying saucers that the Nazis had developed with the help of aliens. He blandly gave model numbers and talked about each model’s capabilities and how they had performed in battle (in BATTLE?!). I didn’t watch nearly the entire thing because the jiggling camera made me dizzy and the droning talk made me sleepy. However, the fact that it was so boring reminded me of the countless hours I’d spent suffering through lectures by uninspired teachers. The boredom factor made it seem oddly REAL, and it gave me the off-kilter feeling that maybe, just maybe, EVERYTHING I KNEW WAS WRONG.
Some of the experts Joe Rogan interviews on his SyFy Channel show, JOE ROGAN QUESTIONS EVERYTHING, remind me of that video. The experts are professionals. They are doctors and scientists. They are TERRIFIC witnesses and proponents of theories…until they say something whack-a-doo that makes us mentally scoop up everything else they said and flush it down our brains’ Information Toilets. I mean, I was TOTALLY paying attention to what the meteorologist was saying about chemtrails and the government controlling the weather until he brought up the aliens. Then…FLUSH.
I went over to the show’s Facebook page today and saw a lot of angry people leaving angry comments. They say that Joe is digging up wingnuts and that Joe is pooping on The Truth for the sake of comedy. Well, eh, he kind of is. Me, I have found the first two episodes of the show to be generally fresh and funny. At points where most of us would turn pale, say, “Um, I see, very interesting,” and get quickly away from someone saying a crazy thing, Joe says, “I gotta call ‘bullshit,’ here.”
When Joe calls “bullshit,” I want to cheer. If there ARE mysteries and conspiracies out there, wingnuts and bullshit are what keep the rest of us from finding out what is really going on. Serious experts can’t take any mystery seriously when “experts” are offering handfuls of tinfoil hat bullshit.
As someone who teeters on the edge of wanting to believe while at the same time not wanting to fall into a pile of bullshit, I have to say, “Well played, Joe Rogan. Well played.”