Conspiracy Theories, Movies and False Realities

Movies such as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2013) are seen to contain a sinister message, by some conspiracy theorist commentators. However, far from representing or predicting the message of any “elite”, these movies only reflect the anxiety that society has always felt concerning radical new scientific discoveries.

In TransEvolution: The Coming Age of Human Deconstruction by Estulin, Daniel (2014), Daniel Estulin, asserts that there is an “elite” agenda behind the global community of techno-enthusiasts who identify as transhumanists. That agenda is not just found in the interests of the transhumanists and their main bodies such as Humanity+, according to Estulin. It is also found in movies like Prometheus and before it Avatar (2009).

prometheus

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Estulin argues, reflects the megalomaniacal designs of the “elite”, and is a message of sorts about what these alleged conspirators plan to do with mankind’s future. My assessment has been that Estulin was referring to the character of Peter Weyland in Prometheus, who sees himself as a “god” due to his creation of a synthetic man, David. Now regarding as a god, he sets out on his own quest to live forever by finding humanity’s alien creator. I suppose this could be compared with transhumanism, which also represents a desire to cheat death through the absolute knowledge and conquest of all possible biology and medicine. In addition, Estulin’s book keeps referring to the designs of the elite as “Promethean”.

Ridley Scott is the very same man behind Blade Runner (1982), possibly the one movie that stands out above every other movie for slamming the idea of artificial life as reckless and catastrophic. Today, Blade Runner is possibly the most popular reference to the dangers of creating mechanical men and “playing god”. Could Ridley Scott really be a transhumanist, promoting the ideas of synthetic life and artificial immortality, if these are also the very forces he uses as villains in his science fiction?

Blade Runner adapted from the PKD novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Prometheus itself continues Scott’s theme by mocking the idea of “playing god” with science. The godlike alien creators depicted in Prometheus, the movie hints, may have destroyed themselves with their own creations by accident (at least on the planet shown in the movie). This serves to rehash the cautionary tale against accidents that could happen with science when it is turned towards destructive and unpredictable ends, as with the biological and chemical weapons already stockpiled in abundance on our planet.

Rather than being glamorized, the only character who represents a member of the megalomaniacal elite searching for immortality in Prometheus is Peter Weyland – the callous villain, very much like Ash in Alien (1979) and Burke in Aliens (1986). He is portrayed as vain and self-indulgent, and his search for immortality is ultimately futile when the alien creator kills him. Not exactly good PR for anyone looking for immortality through eccentric science – and nor is the message that the alien creators wiped themselves out in their failed attempts to craft organic life to conform to their plans.

ash alien

With so many science-fiction movies depicting the search to control life and “play god” as disastrous and futile, one wonders how such movies could possibly be advocating that people control life and “play god” in the way that Estulin argues the transhumanist “elite” are pushing.

 

The transhumanists have a unique vision: they see humanity’s future as one of mechanical augmentation, radical life extension and the enhancement of human abilities and experiences through technology. However, this vision has not gone without criticism, and one of the most vitriolic manifestations of such criticism takes the form of a conspiracy theory.

Estulin’s alleged transhumanist conspiracy is based on the apparent shared interest of strategists, business elites and world leaders in the long-term future of humanity which has led them to consider futurist and often sci-fi like predictions of how things will unfold in coming decades. However, even the most radical transhumanists themselves do not ignore the warnings coming from literature ever since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). Much of that literature may have a very Nineteenth Century vitalist message absolutely conforming to Estulin’s own opinions, but it is still thoughtfully considered by transhumanist ethicists. It is even more carefully considered by the scientists who actually have the training and equipment to make real things happen.

avatar

Seeing a supposed link between James Cameron’s Avatar (the director is mistakenly named as British PM David Cameron in Estulin’s book) and transhumanism, Estulin points out that the 2045 Movement speaks of “avatars”. These are speculated digitally immortalized versions of human personalities, after being “uploaded” through advanced future technologies that effectively eliminate the distinction between brains and computers. The “avatars” of Cameron’s Avatar, in contrast, are alien bodies that are somehow linked to a human brain through a kind of remote control. There is not really a scientific basis for what occurs in the movie, nor could it likely be possible, and nor does it really resemble anything described by the 2045 Movement at present.

 

The resemblance between Estulin and other conspiracy theorists’ claims, and the plots in dystopian science fiction movies, confirms that they are not deciphering an agenda in movies. In fact, they are probably the ones believing false realities based on fiction. It is not the masses that have been brainwashed by movies as conspiracy theorists claim, but the conspiracy theorists themselves.

This phenomenon resembles another one described by Carl Sagan in The Demon-Haunted World (1995), when he wrote that most UFO claims seem to be describing creatures that have already appeared on our television screens before. What could the explanation be? Did the television producers conspire with the same aliens, or are the UFO abductees themselves constructing a fantasy from their diet of sci-fi movies?

Not just conspiracy theorists tend to be over-reliant on movies and other popular culture for their ideas about reality. It gets far more worrying when the politicians with real power are egged on by movies rather than the (yes, very boring) facts. Some of the crazy suggestions about war-making and the United States’ role in the world seem to be more anchored in superhero comic books and action movies than real politics. Unfortunately, the British are little better. 007 films actually do a disservice by telling a lot of people (usually old and relying too much on BBC News) to think MI6 are only battling a bunch of super-villains, so why have any transparency?

Harry J. Bentham

Harry J. Bentham

Harry J. Bentham is a UK science-fiction writer and social commentary blogger. He has studied Politics and Religious Studies at Lancaster University and has training in the Department of Work and Pensions. Harry is also a member of the Advisory Board at the Lifeboat Foundation.
Harry J. Bentham
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