5 Extremists It's Impossible to Take Seriously
Poe's Law is the observation that sincere extremist statements and parody of extremist statements are indistinguishable unless the statement is explicitly insincere. For example, is Ann Coulter the least self-aware zealot on the planet or a persona Andy Kaufman assumed after faking his death?
"Disgruntled, violent extremists should become Christians." -Ann Coulter [paraphrase]
It's never more difficult to differentiate between the two than on April Fools' Day. Especially on the Internet, where every day brings a brand-new form of idiocy that makes you open a calendar and double-check the date. Even in December. Unfortunately, the only way to strengthen the part of your brain that sends out the "THIS IS BULLSHIT" warnings is to dive right into the pile and hope that it doesn't ruin your favorite leopard-print swimming thong.
The End Times Prophet Who Decoded a Satanic Miracle Whip Commercial
William Tapley grants himself a bold title for a guy who wears 1989's finest collection of Caldor sweaters: He's the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse. In an uncharacteristic move for self-proclaimed prophets, Tapley humbles himself by telling us that it's actually the Fourth Eagle who will announce the Antichrist and Armageddon. All Tapley gets to announce is boring ol' World War III. And that makes sense, because, as we are all aware, prophets are allowed to announce exactly one thing. And you don't just trust any ol' lesser Eagle with that kind of responsibility.
But then he up and predicts the Antichrist (Prince Wills!) and a date for Armageddon (fall of 2017), totally screwing the Fourth Eagle out of his glory and ensuring that the next prophecy convention is going to be super awkward.
Way to hog all the eschaton, Tapley.
Either he realized his prophetic faux pas or he suddenly got a divine promotion, because he later announces that he's actually Co-Prophet of the End Times, making him the & Oates to the Fourth Eagle's Hall. I leave it to you to decide whether he's a better songwriter than John Oates, though, because that joke can be taken almost literally. Yep, he quite often sings his prophecies. Badly.
And if you think what I've told you so far is the weird part, you sorely underestimate the Internet's potential for batshit. He sees encoded messages in TV commercials, such as Obama's assassination in wristwatch ads. Or my personal favorite: a "very obvious" secret message from The Devil himself, embedded in a Miracle Whip commercial. Behold ... Stacy's Deviled Eggs!
Sincere or Satire?
I'm going to transcribe a section of the above video and not add a single joke to it, because that would be like drawing a dick on Mona Lisa's forehead:
Did you happen to count the number of deviled eggs? Well, there are 16 of them. And 16 is not really an end-times number. I mean, you could add 6 plus 1, which gives you 7 -- that's not really Satanic. 16 deviled eggs are made from 8 whole eggs ... but 8 is not really a number associated with evil. But if you understand that you count eggs by the dozen -- that is by the number 12 -- then you realize that eight-twelfths of a dozen is two-thirds of a dozen ... then we indeed do have a number for the Antichrist. Because two-thirds represents "man over God." And yields the decimal .666.
We could simply say the poor guy has some obsession and schizophrenia issues and feel sorry for him, but what if he's pranking us all? He plainly knows how to build an audience.
The case can be made.
Shoot, he even looks exactly like Norman McCay, the prophet of Armageddon nobody believed in DC Comics' Kingdom Come. Is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice running the longest viral marketing scheme ever conceived?
Well played, DC.
Even other, impossibly more austere Christians have marked him a fraud.
But in an interview with a skeptic blog, Tapley asserts he is not a spoof, so he's really gambling it all on refereeing this game of revelation. However, as proof that not even false prophets are all bad, he is ardently anti-hippie.
If anything unites all faiths, it will be our hatred of hippies.
Three adults who really should know better made a video about how homosexuality is like adultery, because it offends God's definition of marriage between a man who's miserably living a lie and a woman whose gut clenches with woe at the unspoken chasm between them.
The thing I really like about this video is how succinctly it adopts Jesus' message that you should throw stones at strangers.
Listen, I get it. I went to Catholic school. I'm used to religions teaching that homosexuality is wrong while hiring the loveliest gay people you'll ever meet to teach it. But this video is aimed at gay people's friends and families to say, "Don't love your neighbor so much." They've mistaken the meaning of Christianity so badly their next project is a time machine to save Jesus from the cross.
And I don't care what your politics are: left, right, Whig, Federalist, Loyalist, Know-Nothing ... don't drag your kids into your political sniping (and they totally do -- in the above video, they hand their 8ish-year-old son a sign that says "KIDS 4 ADULTERY -- WAY 2 GO, DAD"). It's only going to be embarrassing for everyone when they grow up to be whatever's the opposite of your beliefs: gay hitmen, Anarcho-Collectivist rodeo clowns, clan chieftain of the Berserker Horde, whatever.
Sincere or Satire?
It's obviously sincere, but the video thinks it's satire. The Poemeter was never meant to measure this level of inverse pressure, and as you can see above, the inherent vacuum cracked its lens.
If I were teaching a class on satire at the University of Don't Be a Dick, I'd fail this project for its heavy equivocating, with additional points deducted because it's so boring. It's scared of behavior so commonplace it might as well faint at the notion of women's exposed shoulders.
Which are way more offensive in this case.
But later that night, that failing grade would haunt me into insomnia, because this could seriously be the most brilliant satire ever made. It convinced a place as foul as the YouTube comments section to stop using and misspelling homophobic slurs. These might be the most clever gay rights activists on the planet, and I failed them. I failed them because they were light years beyond my own teachings.
Stare into the unwelcoming eyes of genius.
There's another reason why they might have made this video. I shouldn't say that the male lead is in the closet, but I'd wager a 10-spot that his breath smells like mothballs and strawberry lube. If you drew a radian two counties from his house, you'd have a map of all the motel mattresses that are stained with shame-sweat angels.
Mind you, while not all extremism is so hateful, it sure is patronizing ...
The Leprechaun Whisperer
If I told you 40 years ago that more than 100 adults exist who believe in leprechauns, you'd still be laughing today and calling it less believable than a YouTube comments section full of positive remarks. Yet Christopher Valentine's leprechaun series showcases both.
Leprechauns aren't real, or they'd have come out of hiding to disclaim this video.
If Southern California didn't exist, the Christopher Valentines of the world would have to build one. Nowhere else can lust for unearned stardom mix with New Age fuckdoodlery to glue together a living out of two non-careers. In a less idyllic environment, the wannabes and bullshitters would be eaten by snow tigers while they were still puzzling out how the planets got started by dragons.
Enter Christopher Valentine, MBA -- an important degree to earn when your job is whispering to mythical creatures whose gifts of gold evaporate into dew at first light. His website is a hodge-podge of spiritualism and attempts to aggrandize his B.S. by association with more successful(?) types.
Here he has cornered two Brady actors and prepares to strike.
Gnomes, goblins, elves, fairies: Valentine has partied with enough of them to answer all your questions. His intimate and expansive knowledge of nature spirits might be a ploy for attention from a guy who acts like film-extra work is prestigious. There are many almost-flattering quotes from "celebrities."
Kids, Larry King was a CNN personality whose hardest-hitting interview questions
wouldn't indent cake frosting.
His knowledge of impish habits is bottomless. Do leprechauns like mushrooms? You'd better believe those leprechauns want to go dutch on some mushrooms. Can you attract leprechauns with green and white lights? Only if they twinkle, you gnome-luring bastard. Do leprechauns really wear belt-buckled hats and dandy vestments? One million party supply stores can't be wrong!
Let me ask Valentine a question, if he's so smart: If leprechauns and evolution are real, how come there are no monkey leprechauns? Science may never know the answer, but that doesn't stop this tow-headed spiritual remora from characterizing the Fine Folk as the fifth dimension's most laughable residents.
Valentine has written many books, all of which feature the same adorable child and terrible graphic design.
That kid, though, he seems like an all right kid.
Valentine's frequent collaborator is "Doctor" Christian von Lahr, who has a "Doctorate of Metaphysical Sciences." That's like being pope of the Burning Ice Kingdom, in that even if such a thing existed it would be made of two mutually exclusive concepts and still make you the ruler of make-believe.
Von Lahr is best known for pretending to interview Michael Jackson 48 hours after the King of Pop's death. That is an impressive achievement in the race to exploit a man's untimely demise.
Especially from a guy who looks like he'd get winded by moving the Ouija glass.
If you have a wish, these hucksters want you to know leprechauns will grant it. Want a "shiny, grand new car"? Leprechauns will be happy to give you one in exchange for booze and mushrooms. Fiscal policy like this is exactly why the Fairy Kingdom got eaten alive in the free-trade market.
Sincere or Satire?
A mix. I'm thinking Valentine might actually believe this claptrap, but von Lahr went out and bought a McDegree from a diploma mill called the University of Metaphysics. When you tout faux legitimacy, you're admitting your racket is suspicious. But if you want to spend $350 for a one-hour reading with him, go ahead.
It's hard to critique bullshit of this magnitude, because it takes place entirely inside von Lahr's giant, rectangular skull ... and that's what he's counting on. I once had a street psychic ask me if I wanted a reading. When I politely declined, she asked why, and I said I didn't believe in that stuff. "That's OK," she chirped, "It's just for fun."
That's the level of critique psychics are used to: She openly admitted to making shit up and asked me to give her $20 for it. But for that same $20 I could go see Age of Ultron in IMAX, which is no less real, lasts nine times longer, and doesn't need a liar to describe it to me secondhand.
Joss Whedon: You're the only one who can read my mind.
Broom Bush Beatdown
"You can make any man seem irrational by selectively framing his quotes." -Adolf Hitler IV: Hitler in Space
With that in mind, let's look at action devoid of statement and see if it's still a Poe candidate. YouTube user Gorilla199 was having some problems, so he prayed on them, like you do. While he was praying he saw a bush that resembled a face.
Though not Bush's face, since he's never expressed regret in his life.
What happened next was an avoidable tragedy, but a clear-cut case of spiritual self-defense. Shirtless, he bravely strode up to the clearly evil bush and beat the living shit out of it with a broom.
Stand your ground even when it's against the ground.
Once he had slaughtered Swamp Thing, Gorilla199's problems stopped. PROOF OF CONCEPT!
My first question is why was he praying shirtless with a broom and a video camera? Those are conditions for filming a highly specialized category of pornography, not touching the mind of God.
My second question is how long in the growth of the tree was Satan plotting to show a guy a mournful expression? It seems like an inordinate amount of foresight and power to get hit by a garden tool that could only repel an attacker in a slapstick comedy.
Sincere or Satire?
Despite his goofy actions here, Gorilla199 has a lengthy and totally sincere filmography identifying followers of the Beast (medical doctors, if you were wondering) and harassing other conspiracy theorists -- such as when his repeated efforts to debate David "All Politicians Are Secretly Lizard People" Icke bore fruit:
This is the weirdest season of The Only Way Is Essex ever.
Think how big a crank you have to be to argue with David Icke in public and he still looks like the reasonable one. These are two grown men who believe they're surrounded by soulless Archons of the Apocalypse, and they hate each other's guts because they can't agree which kind of immortal reptilian humanoids are out to get them.
Field of Screams
YouTube user Jiminybot is a real-life Dwight Schrute who thinks he's a real-life Ron Swanson as he laments the existence of public parks and the government that stole our ability to enjoy them (by being the government). The synecdoche for Jiminybot's wrath is that soul-crushing bastion of tyranny, Central Park.
Central Park is the biggest oasis in the city and the only thing keeping all of Manhattan from killing each other, but this guy's pissed because ... he can't enjoy it while the city is preserving and maintaining it? Look, government is what happens when the stupid and corrupt collude on ways to make more poor people, but attacking municipal parks is like criticizing Stalin's pedicure.
That mustache is unimpeachable, though.
The funny thing is, the building of Central Park evicted about 1,600 people from their homes (well, shanties), but he's only damning the existence of a public park. How is a man supposed to enjoy any of this green space knowing any filthy plebeian can cross his path?
Oh, I forgot to mention: He complains about it all in the form of a poem. No, seriously, go back up and click the play button. Then watch it 10 times in a row. It doubles as the world's most efficient sanity test kit.
Sincere or Satire?
This isn't the worst poem you've ever read, but it's certainly the worst ever spat at you contemptuously by its author. Jiminybot can't fit in with your society, man. He's too rational, too independent! He utters the word "public" in the crackly tone of a particularly dry bullwhip. Nature offers him no solace because its caretakers aren't as real as he is. He can't be an individual because the collective didn't give him a choice.
He didn't land on the rock in Central Park, the rock in Ce- oh, wait, he totally just landed on that rock.
Nevertheless, the tone of "your friend's always-irrationally-angry dad" makes us ask if he's serious. The emphasis on that last line, "I'd damn you all to hell ... if there WERE one," really gives this poem the edginess of a high school sophomore with a learner's permit. Its brutal condemnation is undermined by admitting it's an empty insult.
This has to be satire. Brilliant satire. Has to be.
... doesn't it?
I don't know, honestly. I would consider this a test of your newfound bullshit-detecting abilities, but it feels like that trick question your asshole teacher throws on a final, then when everyone gets it wrong, the class has an hour-long debate about having it removed from the final score. Actually, that may be the best solution. Let's just pretend this one never happened.
For more from Brendan on Cracked, check out 5 Reasons Irish People Don't Love American St. Patty's Day and The 6 Reasons Valentine's Day is Always Awful.
Are you on reddit? Check it: We are too! Click on over to our best of Cracked subreddit.