Saturday, April 18, 2009

South Parks' Hypnotic Space Cops

I don't watch a lot of television as a rule. Recently the only show I've been keeping up with is Heroes, with occasional binges of Simpsons, Family Guy and sundry others, which I indulge in when I'm feeling particularly low. I find the naked attempt at programming most distasteful, and so as a general rule avoid all but that small subset of postmodern humor that deconstructs itself as it proceeds. Sure, cartoons are just as much a vector for memetic programming as any other type of show, in fact perhaps more so than most given the way their lack of seriousness lowers the defenses of its viewers.

I don't normally blog about this dirty little habit of mine but last night I saw something that I judged post-worthy. On Friday night, of course, the new episodes of various shows air and last night I found myself watching South Park after the Simpsons (itself a very interesting episode exploring themes of time, memory and the mind, but beside the poiint of this post.) If you're a fan of the show and haven't watched it yet, this is fair warning that spoilers follow, so you might want to go download the episode now and come back to this when you're done. I'll just leave you with one little thing: keep an eye out for hypnotic openers.

Okay, back?

Great. Now, the plot of the show is something of a take-off of Star Trek, paralleling slightly the Zefram Cochrane story. Stan Marsh and his father Randy discover warp drive when Mr. Marsh, hoping only to set a new speed record in the father/son pinewood racer derby, steals a component from the Large Hadron Collider and includes it (against regulations, of course) in the winning model. The world is amazed, and it's not long before Federal Agents show up at the Marsh's door (and it was at this point that I mentioned to the others in the room the Fake Alien Invasion scenario.) The warp drive, it seems, has attracted the attention of an alien, and the world gathers to greet the ship. The alien proves to be a galactic supergangster on the run from the space cops. Looking to force the Earthlings to make him a warp drive for his ship, he takes the planet hostage.

When the space-cops show up, he takes Stan hostage personally, ordering the world to keep its mouth shut or the kid gets it. Now, I mentioned hypnotic openers and it's at this point that things start to get interesting because the appearance of these aliens was extremely hypnotic. Ftom the waist down they had the appearance of worms but from the waist up they were, for the most part, humanoid. However, they had extra mouths and eyes arranged in such a way as to induce an optical illusion merely by looking at them, and above their heads were flashing strobe lights such as you might see on top of a police car (their ship, too, had lights: a pair of spheres orbiting a common center.)

The space-cops skeptically accept the story that the alien hasn't been seen anywhere, and go on their way. Shortly after, however, the alien is stabbed to death (his blood, of course, is green) and Stan, Randy and other humans pile in to explore his spaceship. Inside they find a huge pile of glittering space-cash, which their greedy eyes are immediately fixated upon. It doesn't take long before they've all agreed to divvy up the space-cash and keep their mouths shut when the cops next arrive.

When they do, of course, they've noticed that Mexico for one has recently gone on a construction-spree but, but they shrug their shoulders and go their way when the whole world replies as one in its denial of any knowledge of anything called space-cash.

Not everyone's conscience is clear, however, and it isn't long before tiny Finland announces its intentions to come clean. The other countries immediately nuke Finland out of existence ... an act that draws the attention of the space-cops, who play right along with the charade that no one noticed Finland committing nuclear suice ("We didn't say anything about nuclear. How'd you know that?") right up until Stan runs up to hand back his pinebox racer derby trophy, unwilling to keep a prize he knows he doesn't deserve.

At this point, the space-gangster returns, and reveals that the whole thing was a setup, in order to test the human race for possible membership in the Galactic Federation. Needless to say, we failed the test miserably the episode ends with a giant glowing cube appearing around the Earth, imprisoning our species for the protection of the galaxy.

Now, what do we have, here? No doubt you're already drawing some conclusions of your own but let me emphasize a few things that stick out. For one, we've got a story whose underlying theme is following the truth versus following the lie. From the very beginning of the episode, Randy is following the lie, even going so far as to coach his son into how to hide his tells. The lies simply echo out from there, becoming bigger and grander until eventually the whole of the species is going along with it out of a mixture of fear, pride and greed. At the same time we've got an alien encounter that isn't all it seems to be, in itself in part a lie but a lie designed to test the allegiance of the species to one or the other.

It's the periodic use of hypnotic openers that really grabs my attention, here (which, after all, they're designed to do.) A hypnotic opener, incidentally, doesn't exactly hypnotize you. All it does is leave you more open to suggestion than you might otherwise be. Strobe lights are one of the most common hypnotic openers (though there are of course many others), and a little reflection on their prominence within the modern urban landscape might give you pause for thought, perhaps, as to why there are devices meant to disarm our conscious minds set up literally everywhere we look.

I'm wondering if this episode was meant to prepare the population for something. Certainly it's not the only one, merely the latest in a long line, but ... for some reason it seems significant. Does it mean an alien invasion is just around the corner? Who knows? I rule nothing out these days but ... I'm not going to put a date on it. It might, indeed, never come. There are sources who claim that the only thing holding back an invasion is that the programming must first be complete, though what that means is exactly is hard to define. Other sources claim that there are no real aliens, but that we are being programmed in readiness for a faked invasion, a gigantic false flag attack utilizing holographic projectors, media trickery and the strategic deployment of black project weapons systems in order to unify the world under the banner of seeing off the threat. I don't rule either of these scenarios out; in fact, I don't even see them as contradictory. It's quite plausible, I think, that there are real aliens out there (and, no doubt, right here), watching us, some perhaps testing us and others simply looking for an opportune moment to pounce. At the same time I can certainly imagine a long-term, highly compartmentalizsd project aimed at faking an alien invasion ... less difficult than you might think, for who can say what an alien invasion would look like, in the first place? Our only experience is with science fiction movies and those, of course, are a large part of the programming either way so....

So here's a scenario. At some point, when the ground is judged ripe, the false invasion is launched. Giant saucers appear over world capitals, destorying some of them and serving the rest of us an ultimatum: submit or die. The ships are destroyed, however, by quick action on the part of those who projected the holograms in the first place, and a call goes out: to unify humanity in order to fight back.

Think for a moment how ridiculous that sounds. Fight off an alien invasion? Us? That's absolutely mad, of course. How do you fight something that much more advanced? A species for whom time is no doubt as travershible as space? Preposterous. But it will not look so silly if we've already taken out a few ships ... or, at least, have been made to think we have.

Maybe that will be the test? And we pass it, perhaps, by following the truth and letting it lead us through the illusion. Should we not - should our planet unify, it's industry turned toward the construction the sort of weapons with which one might repel an invasion from space - we'll have proved ourselves gullible and truculent. At that point the programming is judged complete for the real invasion, against which our defenses (even had they been finished) are entirely useless. Of course, if there are no aliens we've still all sumbitted to a global state so, either way we're fucked.

Well, that's one scenario. Whether anything like it will happen I don't at all know but one thing I'm certain of: that episode of South Park last night was aimed to do more than simply entertain. What its aim was, precisely, is hard to be certain. I find it difficult to credit that anything available through conventional media is likely to be directed at a straight up warning (even a work such as the Matrix was so cloaked in allegory that even now very few understand it as anything but an action movie), especially given the use of hypnosis and so, maybe it was designed to set us up for a fall? People often unconsciously imitate cartoon characters and this tendency can be expected to accentuate itself with the use of strobing lights and optical illusions. We might then suppose that the purpose of this episode was to reinforce the tendency to cling to and follow lies, especially under the uncertain circumstances of First Contact.

But then, as they say, knowledge protects, and now that you've read this any spell the episode might have cast on you is, I hope, largely undone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting people know the programming involved in movies and television shows. Your analysis seems right on.

Keep up the great work!