JFK. Roswell. 9/11 Truthers. Conspiracy theories became comedy fodder almost as soon as they were reborn in the modern era, but groups hiding profound, sinister intent still became widespread in popular culture. Kirby Ferguson’s follow-up to the fantastic Everything is a Remix series is an episodic documentary augmented by a secondary video series that’s partially interactive for subscribers.
This is Not a Conspiracy Theory is sleek, which is to be expected from master digital archaeologist Ferguson, who has culled excellent historical documents, film sequences and animated accompaniment to tell the story of our recent paranoia. There’s also a popular art angle, with shout outs to Oliver Stone, The X-Files and more who lovingly utilized or exploited the unseen board of shadowy figures in pursuit of their stories.
What I love most about the introductory episode/short film is that – as an announcement of his premise – he explains a concise history of our societal fears about power and how it’s wielded before doing a head fake toward what might be an even more terrifying reality. There is no conspiracy, and that should worry us.
Its design mirrors the intensity of homegrown conspiracy YouTube videos, but with his final pronouncement, it seems like This is Not a Conspiracy Theory will be a miniature existential crisis in a bottle.
Ferguson’s ability to connect seemingly disparate songs and movies was proven in Everything is a Remix, and it should be fascinating to see how he puts his hunting dog’s nose to the task of making invisible systems opaque. Although, honestly, it’s tough to have a clear vision for what this documentary series may end up being. Even with a clear thesis statement, the playing field is so enormous that Ferguson will have an exhausting amount of room to run. That’s exciting stuff. Count me among the subscribers.