Welcome to episode #2 of the 90s State of Mind podcast - a collaborative project between 4ever in Electric Dreams and Blue-in-Green:RADIO. This podcast sees Imran Mirza celebrate incredible albums from the 1990s alongside a variety of Blue-in-Green:RADIO presenters. This episode sees Imran and Rhonda from San Jose, California - and host of Ride The Vibe - delve into the fourth album from UK outfit, Sade. Released in 1992, the album spawned four singles, was certified four-times platinum by 1994 and marks the solitary release by the band in the 1990s.
Blue-in-Green:RADIO is a London-based online internet radio station which celebrates 21st century soul, jazz, funk, Latin & hip-hop music.
By Dan Collacott
In an era where lies and ‘alternative facts’ form a central part of mainstream politics, where anyone can denounce things they don’t like the sound of or agree with as ‘fake news.’ Conspiracy theories have somehow found a new lease of life across social media and online forums. So are keyboard warriors just picking and choosing the theories, rumours, conspiracies that support their own fears, prejudices and hatred, without the need for pesky things like actual facts to ruin their fun? Or are most conspiracies just a form of escapism from the mundane aspects of everyday life, are they a way of challenging established norms? A refusal to believe that some terrible things can and do happen? Let's take a look at some of the most popular conspiracy theories and see what you think!
6) Covid is a hoax
Probably the newest conspiracy is that Covid 19 isn't a real disease and was created to control the population. Many Chinese believe the American's created and released the virus, the Americans think the Chinese created and deliberately unleashed it. Tens of thousands feel that lock down's breach their human rights, some think the impact or potency of the virus has been greatly exaggerated or the whole thing is a hoax.
Other's think it is just nature's way of bringing the overall population of the planet down to manageable levels. Either way the fact the virus 'IS REAL' means that conspiracies denying its existence or believing it's all a big fuss about nothing are dangerous. If such rumours continue to grow and spread, more people will stop wearing masks and taking the necessary precautions and ultimately this will lead to more infections and deaths.
5) The Earth is Flat
Despite the fact we have numerous photos and footage from space of our planet, other planets and moons around us, despite the rules of physics, gravity and 200 years of evidence to the contrary. There are several flat Earth societies who deny our planet’s sphericity, they even argue amongst themselves what the ‘reality’ of Earth being flat really means. With some incredible theories describing a giant wall at the end of the Earth, and a lot of online bickering about what is beyond the wall (not sure if that includes Game of Thrones fans).
4) JFK Wasn’t killed by Lee Harvey Oswald
On November 22nd of 1963, JFK was shot during a Dallas motorcade. Becoming the fourth sitting president to be assassinated.
The angle and impact of the bullets have led some to suggest there were multiple gunmen. Many also believe Lee Harvey Oswald was secretly ‘groomed and coached’ by shady elements of the American Government, Mafia and even the Russians. Some state he was a carefully chosen fall guy who never even took the shot that killed the president.
Another urban legend describes the Babushka lady who was seen by several eyewitnesses and on film footage allegedly filming the assassination. She is said to have given that film to two FBI men. Needless to say she was never formally identified and no film associated with her was ever recovered.
Whilst there has never been any concrete proof the JFK was killed by anyone other Oswald, there are still plenty of people even today that believe he was murdered by people within his own Government (or by ‘the deep state’). The tragic death of many other members of the Kennedy family just adds fuel to this conspiratorial fire.
(Below still from the Red Dwarf episode Tikka to Ride about the crew accidentally foiling JFK's assassination)
One of the biggest tragedies to befall any country in modern times has proven ripe for a series of conspiracy theories, most have been disproved but many still continue to linger.
Here are some of the most prevalent 9/11 conspiracy theories:
A) The two towers fell too quickly, their build and structure and the impact points of the planes suggest that the towers would have either taken far longer to collapse or shouldn’t have collapsed at all. This idea was partly disproved after experts stated that the breakdown and spread of molten metal due to extreme heat generated by plane fuel essentially expedited the downing of the towers. There is even footage showing the liquid metal dripping down from floor to floor.
B) The timing of several explosions heard by witnesses suggests that the buildings were brought down from within. Some suggest a bomb actually felled the second tower. Which brings us to theory (c).
C) The US Government blew up the buildings, or ‘let it happen’ in order to justify a war for oil and/or a war against Islamic aggression.
D) The third plane was shot down rather than crashing. According to many, the location of the crash site suggests the plane was brought down rather than crashing. Some of the transcripts of conversations from passengers on board the plane to loved ones below, also suggest the a different account of what was actually meant to have happened. Many even suggest the target was the Whitehouse and not the Pentagon.
Like many conspiracies sometimes people refuse to believe that such a horrific event like 9/11 could ever be allowed to happen. Questioning how anyone behind such an atrocity could be that calculating or evil. But if the Holocaust taught us anything, there is no low which humanity is capable of stooping to. Which funnily enough is why there are plenty of people even today who don’t believe the Holocaust happened. Sadly many more deny it because they are anti-Semitic and actually believe in some or all of the ideals the Nazis stood for. I refuse to include Holocaust denial in this list, as it is by far the most vile and utterly disrespectful form of conspiracy to have ever been cooked up by the minds of some of the worst people ever to be born.
2) The Moon Landings Were Faked!
A personal favourite. This idea was all started a pamphlet called: We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, written by Bill Kaysing.
His claims draw attention to the fact no stars were visible in the pictures along with the way the shadows fell, right down to the lack of a blast crater under the landing module. All of which have been thoroughly debunked by experts who have explained these “anomalies” (including camera-exposure times, reflective moon dust and the way thrust works in a vacuum).
It was even suggested the whole thing was filmed in a studio and directed by Stanley Kubrick!
Kaysing himself had some small involvement in the space race and believed that NASA’s previously inept approach to space travel meant that the possibility of them pulling off a moon landing was incredibly unlikely. To be fair to him at the time many scientists and experts would have agreed that the odds of NASA succeeding were pretty remote, although few would agree that it didn’t happen after the event. NASA had employed some of the finest Nazi scientists to help them win the race to the moon and that is a not even a conspiracy (look it up folks).
Kaysing died in 2005 but his theory lives on even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A recent YouGov poll showed that one in six British people agreed with the statement: “The moon landings were staged.”
Now to the most disturbing of our newer theories.
QAnon is not itself a conspiracy, more a right wing movement or cult that believe in a series of conspiracies. The most popular of those conspiracies seems to be that there is a cabal of Satan worshipping pedophiles who when not busy running a human trafficking ring, are conspiring against Donald Trump. QAnon focus a lot of their attentions on accusing the Democrats and Liberal Media of a series of ever more strange and elaborate crimes.
Trump is firmly positioned as their savior, with the man himself re-tweeting a number of QAnon tweets (even though he claims he doesn’t understand who they are or what they are about). Trump does acknowledges they like him a lot.
Much of the group’s origins and messages come from various historic forum threads, with a number of posts shared presenting ever more bizarre claims, predictions and beliefs. More recently QAnon have been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, in a bid to halt their spread of misinformation. The FBI have even branded them as ‘domestic terrorists.’
An untouchable group or organisation, who secretly control everything an suppress the truth? Nothing new really...
David Icke had secretive lizard people running the world, before that there were many claims about a ruling illuminati or deep state. However you dress it up, the idea of a secretive power or an organisation controlling the world is nothing new. QAnon seem to have found a series of theories and claims that manage to trigger their right wing base, triggering groups who are by no means the majority but become the most active and shout the loudest (pretty much everything Trump did to gain power).
The anonymity of social media and forums seems to add to the strange ‘mystique’ that attracts rational people to baseless claims and ‘secrets’. Plus it seems you don’t need actual facts to amplify hatred and fear, the more ridiculous and outlandish the claims the easier they spread.
Whether or not QAnon will continue to inspire hate and division within their growing online following. Or will just quietly disappear, probably depends on Trump’s re-election. Expect them to be the first to call the election result a hoax and take to the streets if Trump loses.
So why do people still love a conspiracy even in the face of overwhelming proof to the contrary?
It builds ownership, a sense of belonging and identity, followers of conspiracies are able to break fee from what society dictates to them. Defying norms while finding escapism from the mundaneness of every day life.
Made up nonsense is largely more interesting and fun than facts. Outlandish beliefs and unfounded theories can also be used to re-enforce and support existing hatred, fears and intolerance.
Any theory, ideal or idea can be used to target people's worse fears and prejudices. A lot of conspiracies can be used to mask and even bury or disguise extreme and dangerous views and beliefs.
But there are also more harmless conspiracies, like the existence of ghosts or aliens. Many believe the masses aren’t trusted with the truth on alien existence. An individual or small group can be trusted with the truth but if thousands or millions knew, then the world would eat itself.
Whilst more and more Western countries succumb to populist, right wing Governments intent on isolationism, protectionism and views that seem to stoke division and apportion blame to others. It feels like the spread of disinformation, lies and dangerous views will continue unabated. With conspiracies no longer being the harmless irreverent fun they once were. Whatever the case, the internet and social media has created the perfect way to spread lies and disinformation and unless the biggest tech firms take responsibility for farming out our data and do more to the quell the lies their platforms spread, then dangerous conspiracies will continue to grow and thrive.
Listen to our recent podcast for more.
CENK podcast #25: "The War on Facts"
Welcome to Episode #25 of the Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind podcast. Today's episode sees the C.E.N.K. team delve into the concept of modern day conspiracies within the Trump era. Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign could be argued to have ushered in an entirely new perception at how people digest the information they are supplied and their overall trust for the source it emanated from - the term "fake news" is now commonplace as much as the idea of peoples' personal opinions outweighing facts which subsequently brings us into discussions of the rise of Q-Anon and flat earthers.
DISCLAIMER: For this episode, we would like to offer a disclaimer that the opinions expressed within the episode are in no way intended to cause offence; the opinions are our own and we reserve the right to express them but, again, are in no way intended to upset or anger any one person, party or group.
The episode's closing song is 'Bad Man' by Mel & Kim, courtesy of Dala Records.
by Dan Collacott and a dash of TeeJ Sutherland
Due to Covid, No Time to Die has, again, been moved to a April 2021 launch and with it comes Daniel Craig’s swan song as the iconic MI5 double agent. Since Ian Fleming created him in 1953, James Bond has been played by seven actors in twenty-seven films. The character is a long standing staple of British culture, the Eon film franchise is probably the most popular and profitable export we have as a nation, not to mention the fact it is the sixth highest grossing film series of all time.
But is Bond a national treasure to be celebrated or an outdated icon best consigned to history? If there were a bronze statue of Bond, should it be thrown into a canal by an angry group of #MeToo protesters? Should the next Bond give up drinking and women? Should they change skin colour or even sex?
Many feel a suave, violent, wisecracking, womanising, chauvinistic, killer alcoholic doesn’t belong in modern day culture. But recent films have evolved beyond the smirking narcissist killer brilliantly depicted by Connery and Moore (and to a lesser degree Lazenby) in the 60s 70s and 80s. Timothy Dalton’s Bond, in the late 80s, even seemed to add a bit more weight and seriousness to the films.
But then after a six year gap, Piers Brosnan, newly freed from his Remington Steele obligations, was given the mantle and his Bond films doubled down on the franchise’s best and worst tropes, dialing up the camp, quotable catchphrases, characters and cartoonish villains. This was not helped by the fact that at the same time the Austin Powers trilogy made the franchise look even more outdated, goofy and absurd. Mike Myers putting a hilarious but slightly embarrassing exclamation mark on everything that made the Bond franchise famous. Many argue that he was in fact a pretty solid Bond but sadly mired (Goldeneye aside) with a batch of sub par films that didn't do him justice. That being said in terms of revenue two of his films still rank in the top ten revenue earners in the franchise so there was definitely still an appetited for the franchise with his final film Die Another Day bringing in an eye watering $259.6 million in domestic revenue (adjusted for inflation). If you're interested here's how they all rank after inflation:
Thankfully, after Brosnan, the writers and producers made a course correction, with Daniel Craig quietly dialing back the quotable one-liners and ‘clap every time they do that’ moments. The character of Bond even began to bear responsibility for his actions, visibly processing the long-term effects from his violent actions. In fact, Craig’s Bond ran like a 70s Aston Martin, all stylish polish and veneer on the outside but under the hood a grizzled PTSD war veteran engine, hiding his pain with fast brutish machismo. His take on the character seemed an apt response to the American franchises like Bourne and Mission: Impossible that were for a time ‘doing 007’ better than Bond was. Even if the Daniel Craig films have been of varying quality, his Bond was able to re-establish the franchise as the top of the spy film game all whilst producing a knowing nod to the past (even if he did sip a Becks rather than a Martini). The recent films have made sure women, cars and gadgets have still remained, just not quite as loud and in-your-face as the past movies.
Despite this recent modernisation, many are debating what Bond could or should be in his next incarnation. And for the next incarnation, there’s certainly no shortage of names lined up to take over the mantel of the best-dressed killer alive. Aside from the recent hot favourite, Tom Hardy, we also have Boyega, Heughan, Hiddlestone, Elba, in the frame to name but a few. So is it time that the Bond tropes of old were buried with his hundreds of victims? Does the next MI6 double agent need to be bedding women during every action filled romp? Can the headcount be reduced, the alcohol swapped for a kale smoothie, the suits swapped for a recycled hemp tracksuit? Does Bond even need to be a white man in his 30-50s? Does he even need to be a man? After all, Doctor Who, another well-established British franchise, was able to transition to a female in the lead role after the fantastic Jodie Whittaker jumped into the Tardis. No Time to Die has already given some angry fan boys a swerve by passing the 007 call sign over to Lashana Lynch. Is it time to retire all of Bond’s most outdated tropes and make ‘him’ a ‘her’?
There is no right or wrong answer to that question. It can certainly be argued that there is no reason to take pride in the franchise’s often awkward and inappropriate past, but equally there is no reason to pretend it didn’t happen. Ian Fleming’s James Bond reflected the times it was written in, the character was even based on a real life person. Society has evolved and grown since so Bond needs to continue and evolve to better reflect society. But to the same degree, the film series needs to retain some of the identity that makes each film ‘a Bond film’. If the actor who played Bond depicted him with an accent other than British, is he still Bond? If the actor bore all the same trademarks but was female, would that be enough for the fans to accept them? After all, we already had Dame Judy Dench playing Bond’s boss in the recent films.
It is hard to see why the post Daniel Craig Bond couldn’t be a different skin colour, as being white has nothing to do with being British. No reason for them not to change sexuality either. But surely there is no need for the character to change sex? Not because a female Bond wouldn’t work, more a case of why can’t there be a new female double agent character written in the same spotlight? Brought in as a partner to James Bond, before spinning off into her own series as part of the same franchise? Hopefully this is the path the writers give Lashana in the new film.
Esteemed and longstanding Bond franchise producer, Barbara Broccoli, was quoted in a Variety interview saying, “He can be of any colour, but he is male”. She went on to state, “I believe we should be creating new characters for women—strong female characters. I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
Speaking of strong female characters in action franchises, isn’t that what Black Widow is? Ok, yes, she’s Russian but that aside there are enough similarities to suggest that the world is ready for a British female-fronted spy franchise. Although not firmly in the Bond mold, Atomic Blonde, Red Sparrow, Anna and Official Secrets have already laid some strong groundwork. Not to mention the brilliant screenplay for Red Joan.
We mentioned earlier that Doctor Who could be a woman, but only because the character’s identity and even sexuality has always been ambiguous. The character of Doctor Who has always had an otherworldly feel - alien, mysterious, wonderfully unencumbered by weighty identity tropes. Doctor Who is defined by his, or her, personality and endless ever-evolving story and origins; their gender is strangely unimportant.
“There's no reason that the Doctor would have to be a man upon regeneration, in-universe. Regeneration can cause various changes, including skin colour, outward species, and sex.” (sci-fi stack)
This type of creative freedom is also more typical of science fiction, which as a genre allows more room for reinvention and reinterpretation of previously established norms. Especially when it comes to the role of women in fiction.
“One of the reasons I always gravitated toward science fiction was because that was where women were the most thought out, and they had the most layers and they were the most interesting and multidimensional.” Katie Sackoff.
Bond, however, doesn’t yet have that same room for maneuver, but whoever takes the mantle next can further help grow and redefine the character one film at a time. Bringing the incredibly talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge onto the writing team for No Time to Die, was certainly a step in the right direction in trying to change the role and perception of women in Bond films.
It is also worth noting that us Brits (the English in particular) can be quite awkward at celebrating our national cultural identity - football hooliganism and right-wing nationalism helped pretty much ruin supporting the England football team and displays of the St George Cross flag left many with a bad taste in the mouth due to its use as a symbol for many racist groups. We don’t have many characters we can really call our own any more (Harry Potter and Paddington Bear don’t count). James Bond is one of the few truly British cultural icons still garnering a rabid fan following. To many of those fans, James Bond is more about escapism than realism - he represents the loner, the underdog, the never say die hero we all wanted to be growing up. With flash fast cars, incredible planes and other vehicles, amazing guns and gadgets and a sharp style, Bond was a hero to thousands.
Bond might not be the hero the British public deserve or need, but for now he’s all we have. Maybe in the future, the flashy cars will run on green fuel and Bond will carpool occasionally. The gadgets and weapons will undergo thorough risk assessments before going into the field. More importantly, the women in Bond films will get ever more important roles and more screen time. We could even see both men and women becoming the focus of Bond’s affections. His past, however chequered, should not be swept under the carpet and forgotten. The owners of the franchise, Eon, must acknowledge it, learn from it, amplify the best aspects of it and show how they can continue to make Bond the hero we really deserve.
Check our recent podcast where we further discussed all of the above.
Welcome to Episode #24 of the Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind podcast. With the recent revelation that Tom Hardy is all but certain to take over the mantle of the world's most revered spy from Daniel Craig, the C.E.N.K. team tackle the question of what is involved in the casting of James Bond. Will he ever be portrayed by a non-white actor? Could we ever envision Bond being played by a woman? How far do the conversations about gender, race and sexuality impact upon one of the most beloved characters in film of all time? Tee-J Sutherland, Dan Collacott and Imran Mirza delve deep into all aspects of what it really means to cast James Bond in the 21st century.
The 4Ever team...
Welcome to 4ever in Electric Dreams which is the virtual HQ and home to our burgeoning podcast network spearheaded by our flagship series, Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind (C.E.N.K.).
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