Irony sells, but who's buying?
Celebrities are just like us. They breathe the same air that we do, gaze at the same stars, and occasionally hop on social media to promote dangerously inaccurate and baseless conspiracy theories ... just like us! What's that? You don't spread paranoid narratives about the shadowy forces secretly controlling society to your friends? Well, that's clearly because you're a tool of the Will.uminati (a more fashionable offshoot of the Illuminati run by Will.i.am). The rich and famous know what's up ...
Dave Mustaine is a heavy metal legend, notable for getting kicked out of Metallica for being too much of an asshole. So expecting him to have a reasonable opinion on pretty much anything is setting a precariously high standard. It should come as no surprise that Mustaine is a lifelong conspiracy theorist and a regular guest of Alex Jones, or that he uses the Infowars platform to spew outrageous rumors about Barack Obama. But Mustaine doesn't merely repeat theories he's heard on the internet. He's a born creative, of course he riffs off some truly logic-bending solos of his own from time to time.
Megadeth P.I. is not only still convinced that Obama's birth certificate is fake, but he also says he's seen the evidence with his own two eyes, explaining that there are signs saying "The Birthplace of Barack Obama" in Kenya -- a country where he definitely spends a lot of time. He appears to be a big fan of overly visual clues, having also told Alex Jones that Michelle Obama hides hints about her devious schemes in her fashion choices. When the 2012 election rolled around, Mustaine made the most of the opportunity to rope another candidate into the supposed conspiracy, noting that "George Soros came out and said Mitt Romney is just like Obama. So what do you got there? You've got Obama's mentor saying that Mitt Romney's just like him, and he's leading the polls now" -- a statement that has more gaping holes in it than a Megadeth fan's employment history.
Mustaine's worst quote, given his staunch opposition to Obama and Hillary Clinton, has to be this 2011 gem about Occupy Wall Street, which has aged about as well as planking: "I've never, in my 50 years of being alive, listened to an American president try and turn one class of people against another class of people. I've never-never-heard a president say, 'Go down and join the protesters' knowing that there are Nazis down there."
Irony sells, but who's buying?
With police-car-flipping ballads like "Killing In The Name Of" and "Bulls On Parade," vocalist Zack de la Rocha made it perfectly clear which machine in particular he was raging against, even if Paul Ryan missed the message. The other members of the band, however, might have had some slightly different machines in mind.
RATM bassist Tim Commerford believes that the U.S. government invented ISIS, and not in the "stirred unrest in the region which led to its rise" sense. He believes that the terrorist organization is a fictional entity created to justify the bombing of the Middle East. Said Commerford: "I don't believe ISIS is real ... That's a bunch of shit. I don't believe the Jihadi John beheading video. Go look at those videos and study them, and see if you don't think they're fake." The beheading clips in particular are a sticking point for Commerford, who doesn't believe that ISIS would be capable of producing videos in high definition or with soundtracks. After all, they'd need literally any generation of iPhone to pull off that sort of production, and it's not like those are easy to obtain.
Commerford is also the kind of conspiracy theorist who yells at Buzz Aldrin at movie premieres about the Moon landing, but that's a garden-variety conspiracy theory, and Commerford can probably be forgiven for believing in it. After all, it's not as if his dad worked for NASA on the Apollo program or anything like that. That would be silly.
Public Enemy is one of the most influential rap groups in history, and as their name would suggest, they've been known to flirt with controversy on occasion. The award for public-est enemy has to go to Professor Griff, the group's Minister of Information, Supreme Allied Chief of Community Relations, and the only one to be (briefly) kicked out of the band for ghastly antisemitism.
Def Jam Records
Asking a hip-hop group to wade into the Israel-Palestine conflict might be a strange journalistic tactic, but The Washington Times got a hell of an answer from Griff in a 1989 interview, during which he announced that "Jews are responsible for the majority of wickedness in the world." Later on, he defended his viewpoint with some foolproof logic: "Is it a coincidence that Jews run the jewelry business, and it's named 'jewelry'?"
Airtight case, Professor.
To their credit, the band issued an apology, and Griff later recanted his statements. To their discredit, they immediately rehired him, and his recantation amounted to acknowledging that he can't blame Jews for all the wickedness in the world, because he doesn't know about all of it. Some of it might be Justin Bieber's fault. Who's to say?
Griff has since moved on to the internet conspiracy theorist's most beloved pastime of getting on YouTube to rant about the Illuminati. Apparently, Griff believes that JAY-Z and many other artists are all performing satanic rituals to instill their music with demonic energy. He also totally thinks Get Out was a documentary, depicting an accurate representation of what is happening to missing black men all over the country. The body-swapping part might not be real, but Griff doesn't discount the possibility of a massive Caucasian organ-stealing operation, which is, of course, ridiculous.
Mathangi Arulpragasam, better-known by her stage name M.I.A., has taken one of the more reasonable beliefs out there -- that social media companies are evil and making the world a worse place -- and rendered it outlandish by tacking on a bunch of needless, bizarre, narcissistic details. She took the very real threat of data mining and manipulation and made it all about her, as if she's the Neo to Mark Zuckerberg's Agent Smith.
M.I.A. reasons that, "All governments are connected to Google, and all governments can shift their search engines so only what they want you to see comes up." An argument that sort of falls apart under scrutiny, unless the governments of the world have a serious interest in spreading erotic Sonic the Hedgehog fan art. She's probably right when she says "everyone is fucking you up behind the screens," but she's a bit more off the mark when she suggests that "the CIA invented Facebook and Google." As if the federal government was capable of building a working website.
That's when M.I.A. inserts herself into the narrative, painting herself as a beleaguered target of various social media platforms, while simultaneously using those platforms to freely address hundreds of thousands of followers. M.I.A. worried about the consequences of a Hillary Clinton win in 2016 because she'd tweeted about WikiLeaks a few times, and that apparently meant imminent danger for her. She also latched onto an incident in which she was dropped from the London Afropunk Festival after insinuating that Beyonce's support of Black Lives Matter meant she didn't care about Muslims. The Twitter account of the U.S. Embassy in London retweeted the news, and that was just one more damning piece of evidence in the social media conspiracy surrounding the singer of that one song from the Pineapple Express trailer.
M.I.A. incoherently explained all of this in an interview with The Guardian, and then abruptly switched to the time she was convinced she was going to be assassinated by the CIA.
That's not a joke.
Well, not an intentional one.
In a 2007 interview on French television, actress Marion Cotillard casually explained that 9/11 was the result of a conspiracy ... to avoid paying for expensive renovations.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Her evidence for this? Pretty much her own baseless insistence that it would have been more expensive to update a building from the '70s than it would be to destroy it. Also, that some other buildings have been hit by planes, and they haven't burned or collapsed. Right. There was just tons of precedent for that sort of thing. That's why they always say "Never Forget." You never know when the next commuter airliner is going to fly directly into a skyscraper, and it pays to be prepared.
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