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Conspiracies are a lot like orgies -- they take careful planning, involve a lot of people putting themselves in compromising positions, and never end up working as well as movies promised they would. And even though we just created an image of a sloppy gang bang in your head, we're not just talking about politics, here -- pop culture is just as full of "secret symbols" and "hidden messages" that make it seem like there's a shadowy genius secretly manipulating the puppet strings from behind a vast curtain.

But there's not. As this Cracked Classic shows, even the most convincing arguments about secret messages turn out to be even dumber than the ending of How I Met Your Mother (and as a side note, we apologize for so thoroughly driving home the point that no one in any position of authority has any idea what they're doing -- we admit that's not, ya know, super comforting).

It's hard enough to make a good movie or TV show, but apparently some of the stuff you watch or listen to also contains secret hidden messages that only close examination will reveal. Or, at least, that's what countless conspiracy theorists around the internet would have us believe.

The strange thing is, sometimes they'll produce a piece of evidence so eerily convincing, it's like they've waved their hands and made your sanity disappear. Here are five of pop culture conspiracy theorist's most convincing nuggets, and a look behind the curtain at how they get you ...

The Fox Network Predicted the 9/11 Attacks

We have previously mentioned that the Fox X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen had become an obsession with conspiracy theorists ever since 9/11. The reason is the pilot episode--which aired a year before the attacks--featured a plot to hijack a 747 and fly it into the World Trade Center.

We're guessing this screen capture is the most any of you have ever seen of it.

But if you Google "Simpsons predict 9/11" you find that in a 1997 episode of The Simpsons did the same, in a much more obscure yet creepy manner. In the episode, the family goes to New York. And, while it's not that weird that the Twin Towers would be featured in the episode (Homer's car gets stuck there due to parking tickets)...

...this is pretty freaking creepy:

Holy shit! They're totally using the towers to make the "11" in 9/11! That's not Photoshop, either. The clip is all over YouTube, go look.

Why it's Bullshit:

It's fun to imagine that the world's strings are secretly being pulled by an underground group of powerful men, and that Rupert Murdoch, the founder and CEO of the Fox networks' parent corporation, is a member. But the reality has a lot more to do with statistics. It turns out a show that hits on as many real world subjects as The Simpsons will accidentally "predict" a number of events if it's on the air for 20 years, four presidential administrations and approximately 60 million episodes. For instance it "predicted" that the universe would turn out to be doughnut shaped, and that Roy of Siegfried and Roy would be mauled by one of his own tigers.

That tiger's been on the Bilderberg Group's payroll for years.

It's also a matter of statistics if you look at the source. If you let a crazy person rant long enough, they're bound to hit on a strange coincidence that makes you cock your head to the side. In this case, the epicenter of the conspiracy seems to be the remarkably crazy radio talk show host Alex Jones, who's other hobbies include blaming the Jews for, well, everything. Of course, Jones has little to say about the Illuminati anti-Roy, pro-tiger mauling policy.

The fact is, if you look hard enough, you can find plenty of other movies, TV shows and books "foreshadowing" the attacks. Go get your DVD of The Big Lebowski and watch the beginning: The Dude's check is dated September 11th. And, playing on the television while he fills it out, is President Bush, Sr. giving his famous "This will not stand" speech from 1990... a speech about the need to go to war in Iraq. The Coen Brothers were in on it, too!

As for The Lone Gunmen, they came up with the idea of using an airliner as a weapon for the same reason the terrorists did: It just seemed like a good way to carry out a terror attack. Years earlier, it happened in a Tom Clancy novel (1994's Debt of Honor) and a decade before that, in a Stephen King novella (The Running Man--yes, the one that would become a Schwarzenegger movie, they just took out the airliner-into-the-skyscraper climax).

But just for fun, let's say that Rupert Murdoch knew about the attacks ahead of time thanks to his Illuminati connections. Why insert that fact into your freaking prime time TV shows? How would subliminal hints about what's coming be helpful to a plot allegedly intended to shock the public into submission to the New World Order and martial law?

Let's let Alex Jones explain it. Quote:

"They believe because of what they're into, you call it Kabbalah or whatever, it's all the same junk that, you know, these groups are into, it's called lesser magic, they believe if you show what you're going to do before, in a riddle--it's like the legend of the vampire, they've got to trick their way into your house."

Sounds crazy now, right? Well that man's show gets approximately one million listeners each and every day.

The Wingdings Font is Loaded With Anti-Semetic 9/11 Hidden Messages

Open up Microsoft Word. Or any word processor with Wingdings font. Type "NYC."

This is what you get:

Somewhere right now, Mel Gibson's ears are burning.

The Wingdings controversy experienced a resurgence shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 when somebody found out that typing "Q-3-3-N-Y" displayed an image eerily similar to an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center.

Still not convinced something's up? This one actually crossed over into the mainstream media even before 9/11. Back in the 90s somebody noticed the Wingdings thing and The New York Post went nuts with theories that somehow this was a hidden message urging death to the Jews. And if they believe it, well ...

Why it's Bullshit:

... it could very easily be sensational bullshit they made up on a slow news day.

Above: The New York Post.

Appropriately, a magician did a damn fine job of explaining how this particular trick works. As Penn Jillette put it in an essay on the subject:

"To me, [poison] [Star of David] [thumbs up] means 'Jewish people make really good pesticides'" and, "Once you're crazy and know nothing about numbers, the chances of finding something psychotic and hateful in a Scrabble factory explosion are hovering just around 100 percent."

And then he juggled for a while.

As for the coded reference to 9/11, well, remember that to get that, you have to type in Q33NY. How does Q33 link to 9/11? It doesn't. As Microsoft (shouldn't have had to have) noted, Wingdings is just random bullshit. When the letters you're typing to get your "coded message" don't have to correspond to anything coherent, you can make them say any crazy thing you want.

Or you could back up before Microsoft had to update their random jumble of coded images to protect themselves from the crazies. When you type NYC in the new Webdings font, you get this:

Dear Internet:
Maybe Vista would have worked better if we didn't have to spend so much time reverse engineering an obscure font around your crazy bullshit.

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Harry Potter is an Allegory for Homosexuality

On October 19, 2007, J. K. Rowling revealed a secret that the Muggle community is still reeling over: Hogwarts' headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was gay. From this, those on the fringes of the evangelical community decided that the entire Harry Potter series, and with it the entire wizarding world, is in fact a front for the single largest homosexual conspiracy since musical theater.

At first, it seems like the type of crazy knee-jerk homophobia we've come to expect from the lunatic religious fringe. But then you read the detailed decoding in this article:

"The story is about a boy who lives in a cupboard (i.e. "in the closet"). His Aunt and Uncle are ashamed of him because his parents were quite eccentric (i.e. "flaming") and they are deeply concerned and afraid that he will turn out just like them. On his 11th birthday (i.e. roughly at the onset of puberty), the boy discovers that he is actually a 'wizard,' different in both style and substance from normal people, or 'muggles' (i.e. 'breeders'). The boy is groomed into his new existence by a large, hairy bear of a man who shows Harry a hidden underground community of 'wizards' living right under the noses of the general population (i.e. the gay subculture). Harry's first trip to this subculture involves traveling through 'Diagon Alley,' a play on the word diagonally (i.e. not straight)."

And they weren't the only ones to notice the trend, and far from the most high profile.

So, stripping out all of the paranoia about the evil gay agenda, doesn't it seem possible Rowling wanted Harry Potter to symbolize the struggle of a young boy with "weird" feelings, trying to find his place in society?

Much like this film.

Why it's Bullshit:

If anybody has a right to be upset about Rowling's "Dumbledore is gay" announcement, it's the gay community. After all, the only gay character in the entire Harry Potter universe is so deeply in the closet that tens of millions of people were able to read seven long novels without figuring it out. That's how she "openly promoted homosexuality through her work"?

And for a supposed allegory for gay teens, Harry Potter himself is one hell of a man's man. The guy played hide the broomstick with his best friend's sister, gets to first base with a Scottish Asian, nearly banged a ghost, picked up a pair of twin Indian sisters with zero difficulty and would have probably whipped out his wand for that chick in the London Underground had that asshole Dumbledore not cockblocked him.

So what's the idea here? That Rowling is trying to reach out to closeted teens by telling a story of a confused young boy with similar feelings? That makes perfect sense if she believes part of the young gay experience is touching lots o' boobs. And that she decided to only out Dumbledore, but keep her brilliant hidden metaphor about the rest of the story a secret.

As for us, we're going to stick with the most straight forward interpretation. Harry Potter stood for nothing more nefarious than witchcraft and Satanism:

A Pink Floyd Album Syncs Perfectly with The Wizard of Oz

The theory that Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon was deliberately written to be played in synch with The Wizard of Oz (the so-called Dark Side of the Rainbow/Dark Side of Oz theory) is one of the most widespread and enduring in pop culture. It has appeared in movies, DVDs, YouTube videos and websites, resulting in countless college students spending their weekends getting stoned while watching a 70-year-old family movie instead of their normal routine of getting stoned while watching cartoons.

"Oh my God. Death is horrible."

Theaters have featured The Wizard of Oz set to The Dark Side of the Moon, and Turner Classic Movies even aired the movie in 2000 with Pink Floyd offered as an alternate track. It has seriously trickled that high up.

And we must admit, some parts do synch up eerily well--sound effects on the album match movements of characters, the word "which" is uttered at the moment a witch appears, and that's just scratching the surface.

Why it's Bullshit:

Because even Pink Floyd thinks the theory is ridiculous. David Gilmour described whoever picked up on the synchronicity as some guy with too much time on his hands, and Nick Mason has gone on record stating that the record was based on The Sound of Music.

Clearly, this makes way more sense.

Dark Side of the Moon engineer Alan Parsons explained to Rolling Stone in 2003 how impossible it would have been to sync the tracks even if they'd wanted to:

"One of the things any audio professional will tell you is that the scope for the drift between the video and the record is enormous; it could be anything up to 20 seconds by the time the record's finished. And anyway, if you play any record with the sound turned down on the TV, you will find things that work."

That's true. Try it. Hell, go to TubeDubber--the site that lets you combine the sound from one clip with the video from another--and you'll be shocked at how random clips sync up. For instance, here's the audio from a vicious anti-Ground Zero Mosque ad synced with the video from a Japanese McDonald's commercial.

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The Great Stanley Kubrick Illuminati Conspiracy

Now that VHS, DVDs and YouTube have made it possible for audiences to watch movies over and over and over again, much has been learned about the elusive Stanley Kubrick that otherwise may have slipped under our radar.

Among them: A little in-joke in 2001: A Space Odyssey about HAL really being IBM; the faint shadow of a helicopter caught in the opening titles in The Shining; and how virtually the entire Stanley Kubrick library reveals clues to an enormous Freemason-Illuminati conspiracy that Kubrick was personally in the center of, and probably killed over.

Theorists allege that Kubrick peppered more than 30 years of some of the finest motion pictures in history with countless visual references to Masonic symbols like the Eye of Providence...

...and by extension his connection to the Illuminati. And honestly, there are some images that could totally pass for the Eye of Providence out there.

2001: A Space Odyssey:

A Clockwork Orange:

Check out the wall in the back.

The Shining:

Eyes Wide Shut:

Why it's Bullshit:

First and foremost, when Stanley Kubrick died on March 7, 1999, his cause of death was a heart attack, aka being an out of shape 70-year-old man. The odds that his fatal coronary explosion was orchestrated by a secret organization are slim at best.

Second, this conspiracy alleges that just about every piece of work Kubrick made from 1963 to his death in 1999 was heavily laden with Masonic symbols like the Eye of Providence. That is a very, very long time, and is an almost unfair comparison because filmmakers often go in and out of themes, styles and symbols particular to a film. Granted, as demonstrated above there are a ton of triangles and stuff in his movies, but things like triangles and pyramids are sort of key elements of art. That's kind of the shape a long room makes when you look at it. It's called perspective, guys.

As demonstrated here.

Fans of A Clockwork Orange point out that the title is supposed to symbolize the Sun, the Eye of Horus and by association the Eye of Providence, kind of forgetting that Kubrick didn't come up with that title. Other parallels they draw are even flimsier.

Old guy + wheelchair = old guy in a wheelchair.

Lastly, the whole Masonic/Illuminati/New World Order conspiracy theory is total, utter bullshit. In fact, when you consider that the Illuminatus! trilogy that spawned the Illuminati craze is both fictional and released after both the book and the film A Clockwork Orange, it almost makes Kubrick look like less of a master conspirator and more like the type of guy who "accidentally" omitted Anthony Burgess from the writing credits and didn't even know A Clockwork Orange had a final chapter until the screenplay was nearly finished.

Though that hasn't stopped conspiracy theories claiming that NASA hired Kubrick to direct the fake Apollo Moon Landing based on his work on 2001 earlier that year, and that there is a coded confession in The Shining.

Gemini: Apollo's sister space program.

A-11=Apollo 11.

Come on, guys. You're going to have to do better than that to get us to agree with the Flat Earth Society.

So... would it nullify the rest of the article if we sided with the crazy people just this once?

For conspiracies that are true, check out 7 Insane Conspiracies That Actually Happened. Or find out which fanbases could've made a better flick, in 6 Insane Fan Theories That Actually Make Great Movies Better.

And stop by Linkstorm to discover how Cracked covered up the aliens at Area 51.

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