From the god-kings of ancient cultures to the revolving door afterlives of comic book characters, humanity has always been reluctant to accept the fact that even our best and brightest will eventually fade away. As millennia have passed and our cultural relationship with our leaders has shifted from "May He reign forever in the Heavens" to "Thanks, Obama," we have moved our death-eluding attentions to our celebrities. Any time some singer or actor croaks before they become old and uninteresting, you can bet your best Sunday butt that within hours, the Internet will be teeming with "they're still alive" theories, ranging from relatively sane speculation to the obligatory "they just went to their home planet" ramblings of the Tin Foil People.
Can you guess which end of the spectrum this column is going to be about?
5Bill Hicks Became Alex Jones, Conspiracy Theorist
If you're interested in stand-up comedy at all, chances are you've bumped into Bill Hicks. A master of dark observational comedy and an avid social critic, his star burned brightly throughout the early 1990s, until he was lost to pancreatic cancer in 1994.
Or was he?
Enter Alex Jones, whom you may know (and hopefully actively ignore) as the man behind InfoWars.com, the host of The Alex Jones Show, and "America's #1 conspiracy theorist." Did you know he's really Bill Hicks in disguise? Does he even know? God dammit, the New World Order has fooled us yet again!
Here's a completely reliable 33-minute video that utterly eradicates all possibilities of this not being true:
"Superficial similarities in voice and physical attributes? Hold the press, Greg, we have stumbled upon the most sacred of all truths."
Should you not have the time to watch the whole video (please don't -- I did, and you can actually feel your brain cells melting like sugar in the rain as they elaborate), this theory suggests that Hicks was actually kidnapped by the CIA, who brainwashed the left-leaning comedian and put his famously sharp tongue to a new use by turning him into a right-wing propaganda machine.
What I love about this theory is not so much its subject matter; I suspect it would take a lot more than mere brainwashing to turn Bill fucking Hicks into a 9/11 truther muppet. It's how thoroughly it manages to serve Jones a taste of his own medicine by claiming that he, a dedicated opponent of all things Illuminati and whatnot, is actually nothing but a powerless puppet serving their secret agenda.
With this in mind, I wholeheartedly propose to any conspiracy enthusiasts who might be reading this: please, please make this "conspiracy theorists making conspiracy theories about other conspiracy theorists" thing an ongoing trend. It would even be worth the inevitable return of that annoying Xzibit meme.
4Michael Jackson, Master of Postmortem Disguise
Yvonne Hemsey/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Whatever else he may have been, the late Michael Jackson always struck me as a confused and unhappy individual who was thrown into a very extraordinary life at a young age, and never quite figured out what to do with it. That's why it was no surprise to me that there are plenty of theories about him faking his death and moving on to live what in his head probably passed for a normal life.
What was surprising, however, is how many of these theories refuse the "away from the spotlight" angle altogether, and instead use his fake demise as an excuse to make him seem even weirder than he was in his known life.There's the one that claims Jackson is still occasionally visiting the public eye under the guise of his longtime friend, a facial burn victim called Dave Dave.
Via True Michael Jackson
Feel free to insert your own "I can see the likeness" joke, because I sure as shit am not going to make one.
How about the one about Conrad Murray, the doctor facing heat over Jackson's death, actually being the singer in disguise, despite looking and sounding nothing like him?
"As you can see, they both clearly have eyes and shit."
Or the ones that claim Jackson was present at his own funeral, disguised either as an old man or a blonde lady?
Because the first thing you do after staging your death is grab a wig and waltz into an event that will be seen by millions.
Most of these theories seem to draw from the fact that a few of Jackson's videos -- notably his Thriller zombie look and Ghosts, where he played a middle-aged white dude -- featured him in heavy makeup and prosthetics, which can obviously only mean that the man is both ready and willing to spend the rest of his life in various heavy disguises.
Look, the King of Pop was a great many things, and I get that tons of fans miss him. However, while he did on occasion dabble with prosthetic makeup in his videos, precisely none of said things was "master of disguise." The dude's recognizability was on par with Mickey Mouse's, and although he did on occasion try to hide his face from the public, his attempts at disguise tended to be less Sherlock Holmes and more like, well, this:
Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
He could probably pass for LaToya, but that's it.