It could be said that these days, everyone’s becoming a bit of a conspiracy nut. Shonda Rhimes certainly has made ABC’s Scandal a Thursday night hit because of our love of malicious machinations.
Of course, it wasn’t always that way.
Once upon a time, society as a whole was young and innocent. Back in the days when giant poodles appeared on girls’ skirts and boys thought their only job was to bring home a paycheque and impregnate their wife, society believed everything they heard on the news. And they definitely wouldn’t dare question the government.
The idea of conspiracies was ludicrous. People laughed when someone claimed that Armstrong’s moon walk was faked. And those who talked about Area 51 and government treaties with alien visitors were hailed as part of the “Tinfoil Hat” brigade.
Today, we’re not so sure. In fact, we’re so open to the idea of these monumental, far-reaching conspiracies that they’re popping up in shows and movies to the delight of audiences everywhere.
Although Scandal began as a sneak peek into the slick backdoor deals of Washington, the past two seasons focused on B6-13 – a U.S. shadow government black-ops team that had been killing people and manipulating world governments for decades. Not only was there no one it couldn’t get to, but also no one who could stop it.
And what was worse was that the show’s heroine had been controlled by it all her life since it was her own father who ran the group. (Oh, and her mother was a terrorist.) How’s that for a dysfunctional family?
Alternatively, Person of Interest has focused on our growing fear of computers taking over the world. No longer are we thinking in terms of 1984’s The Terminator. No, 30 years and several sequels later, we’re aware that our future is ultimately doomed to computer domination. So POI created a second, less evil computer to fight the first. And the two have been battling it out all season long with us regular folk none the wiser.
We certainly can’t ridicule these storylines as flights of fantasy anymore. If you review history’s hundreds of conspiracy theories, you’ll find that some of them turned out to be … well, … true.
The most recent was the government’s whole “fake the weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq and accessing their oil production” story. We were lucky to discover the truth quickly enough with that. Meanwhile, it took almost three decades for Oppenheimer’s atomic bomb Manhattan Project to come to light.
And back in the 70’s, what was more shocking? The fact that Watergate involved the President himself? Or that Project MKUltra, a CIA mind-control program, turned out to be real?
Today, we’re not shocked. We’re excited about the next big conspiracy – both in Hollywood and in real life. After all, it makes for great TV.
And no longer are we considered paranoid just because we think everyone’s out to get us. Because, apparently, they are.