5 Insane Things Otherwise Respected Celebrities Believe
Suppose you're an Internet writer who's fresh off of writing three straight columns that (not at all unreasonably) several people dismissed as conspiracy theory nonsense. Where do you go from there? Obviously, you follow it up by making fun of the crazy things other people believe. We do that on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comic Jeff May and podcast sensation Brett Rader. Also, we're going to talk about it in this column today. Here are five insane things otherwise respected celebrities believe.
The Wu-Tang Clan Thinks White People Were Made In A Lab
It doesn't get talked about nearly as much, but there was a time when religion was every bit as influential in the course of rap music history as gang culture eventually was. The religion in question, specifically, was Islam. There are any number of explanations for why this changed, ranging from full-on conspiracy theory nonsense (record labels conspired to promote gangsta rap as a means of killing "conscious rap" and filling prisons) to the completely reasonable (rap nowadays is more of a reflection of America in general as opposed to just the inner-city neighborhoods where it started in its earliest days).
The sect of choice for discerning mid-to-late-'80s rappers looking to inject a little spirituality into their rhymes was the Nation of Islam, an offshoot founded in the United States back in 1930. They have, at various points in history, been accused of being "black supremacist" and "antisemitic," to the point where they're actually tracked as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
For a perfectly representative example of why that is, look no further than the story of Yakub.
It's way too long and insane to cover all of the specifics, but the short description is as follows: White people were created in a lab by an evil black scientist who was looking to create a "race of devils." This isn't some wackiness that the NOI came up with in the early days and then disavowed, either. It's still a widely-believed theory, and one that the group's leaders believe is backed by science. Depending on what your patience game is like, you can see Louis Farrakhan explain it all in this video:
Basically, if you've ever heard a rapper refer to white people as "devils" (and you definitely have), this is what they were referencing. You'll hear references to it all over early-'90s albums from rappers like Public Enemy and Ice Cube, if you're looking for some famous examples. However, the most enthusiastic supporter of all seems to be the Wu-Tang Clan. For starters, have a listen to the skit that was tagged onto the album version of their goddamn fantastic single "Gravel Pit":
If you'd like to skip ahead, the spoken word bit in question starts around the 4:17 mark, and here's what it says:
Sounds reasonable enough!
It's actually taken from a 1977 movie called Short Eyes, if you're looking for some trivia to wow your friends with at happy hour and such. That's definitely not the only reference to Yakub in their music; it's just the most obvious. But there's another wrinkle to the Yakub story that makes Wu-Tang the group most worth mentioning here. Have you ever wondered why the Wu-Tang Clan seems to be so into Asian culture? I can't prove it, but my suspicion is that it's because in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the Yakub story is expanded to explain that all races except black people were actually a product of this evil experiment -- but also that Asians are considered a part of the black race. So that might explain it?
Or maybe they just really like kung-fu movies. What do I know? As a white devil myself, it's hard to be objective here.
The Foo Fighters Used To Think That There's No Link Between HIV And AIDS
This is something we touched on in the briefest manner possible on this site previously, but it's worth mentioning again. There was a point in history when, apparently, the Foo Fighters were convinced that there's no scientific evidence to support the idea that HIV is linked to AIDS. News of this curious stance on modern medicine first circulated way back in 2000, by way of this Mother Jones article about the band organizing a charity concert in Los Angeles to benefit Alive and Well -- a group which claims that AIDS is not caused by HIV, but rather by stress, drug use, and anal sex.
Rather than shy away from the association at the time, bassist Nate Mendel (the one responsible for bringing the cause to the attention of the rest of the band) went so far as to suggest that anyone seeking an HIV test should look up information about Alive and Well first.
What's not to trust?
The band also said that they were planning more shows to benefit the group. No word on whether those shows ever happened, but as recently as 2008, curious fans were still digging up pages on the Foo Fighters' official website featuring banner images that linked to information about the organization. A spokesperson for the group said that it was just an oversight by a web administrator who forgot to take the link down, but it wasn't really made clear how long ago that change was supposed to have happened.
That's beside the point, anyway. That they supported something like this for even a day is irresponsible at best. At worst, they might have indirectly killed a few people. In that same article, Mendel bemoaned the fact that once you're diagnosed with HIV, you're put on a cocktail of "toxic" drugs meant to ward off potentially deadly infections. What he left out is that those drugs actually keep people alive. In almost every instance, the most vocal proponents of the idea that treatment is unnecessary or dangerous, at least among those who've actually been diagnosed with HIV, eventually succumb to the very fate those drugs are meant to prevent.
In 2012, The Guardian wrote a story about HIV deniers which included sad tales like that of Karri Stokely, a woman who was diagnosed at the age of 29 and discontinued treatment after 11 years because she saw a YouTube video that said she didn't need it.
She died of pneumonia a few months later.
Another man, an American singer named Michael Callen, wrote a book about the theory in 1990 called Surviving AIDS. Three years later, he died from complications related to AIDS. That's not meant to sound funny. It's not funny. It's sad. As sad as knowing that the band that blessed the world with a song like "Everlong" was also behind spreading the kind of misinformation which sometimes leads to people needlessly dying.
That said, it's pretty safe to assume that the band has since given up on this idea. But I only say that because Christine Maggiore, the Alive and Well founder whose ideas first caught Mendel's attention, died from HIV-related complications of her own in 2008.
Carlos Santana Thinks A Spirit Named Metatron Was Responsible For His Comeback
I accept right up front here that, for all intents and purposes, Carlos Santana is one of the last entertainers on Earth you'd look to expecting to hear words that would ever register as "normal" to the average person. However, I'm not sure that people completely grasp just how bizarre his thinking really is. A great example of Santana at his Santana-est is the story behind how he came up with the idea for his multiple-Grammy-winning 1999 comeback album Supernatural.
It's the one with this fucking song it.
As the name implies, he had help from a ghost.
Fine, sorry; that's just me trying to make it sound weirder than it really is. It was actually a spirit. A spirit named Metatron, if formalities are your thing. Even better, Metatron didn't just enter Santana's life to oversee that one project. The two have apparently been in touch since 1994. His first dealings with spirits (and angels in general), though, first happened exactly as they do for so many other people ... through a book purchased at the Milwaukee airport.
Apparently, that in-flight reading material completely changed Santana's life, culminating in Metatron coming up with a grand scheme to spread spirituality to kids by mixing Latin-tinged classic rock shreddery with the top artists of the day -- which at the time meant Rob Thomas, Dave Matthews, Wyclef, Everlast ... and more!
You remember Eagle Eye Cherry, right?
Surprisingly enough, the plan totally worked. Well, the part where he was supposed to sell a ton of records worked. If there's been a massive shift toward New Age religions among the youth of this nation as a result of all those sales, it's not the kind of thing the media has covered extensively.
Nevertheless, where there's a crazy person claiming their music is informed by visits with beings from the spirit world who want them to spread a message, there's an equally crazy person who can definitively prove that those messages are in fact the work of Satan. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that he eventually recorded a song with the lead singer of Nickelback and released it as a single.
No way is he getting the benefit of the doubt from me after unleashing evil like that on the world.
Terrence Howard Thinks That 1 x 1 = 2
Again, just like Santana, no one is leaning too hard on Terrance Howard for words of wisdom these days, even before he took the time to put our mistrust into words. To me, personally, he's always seemed like kind of a creepy weirdo, bordering on being an outright awful person. Pretty much every suspicion I've ever had in that regard was confirmed a few months ago, when he sat down for a batshit insane interview with Rolling Stone.
Over the course of eight long (Internet) pages, he touches on everything from his childhood (shitty and terrifying) to his treatment of women (ditto), and everything in between. But nothing merits more attention than his math skills.
I'd like to see an equation that explains why Crash deserved to win an Oscar.
To be clear, when I say in the heading of this entry that Terrence Howard thinks that 1 x 1 = 2, I don't mean that he made an ill-fated attempt to answer an Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader question and blew it. No, that would be kind of cute and wacky and innocent. This ... is different. He literally believes that every mathematician in history is incorrect, and that 1 x 1 just straight up equals 2.
How did he land on this theory? Simple! He developed his own system of math, called "Terryology" -- which, unless my understanding of suffixes is completely failing me, roughly translates to "the study of Terry." If that doesn't do anything to make this make more sense, then don't worry. Terry is working on something that should help. Also mentioned in great detail during the interview is the weird series of plastic figures and structures that he spends hours each day constructing and stringing together, all of which are meant to show his work to the world.
It wouldn't be the first time a useless hunk of plastic changed the game, I guess.
For the record, when I say that he spends hours building these sculptures, I mean double digits. The article mentions that Howard and his wife would sometimes spend up to 17 hours cutting and gluing stuff together. With that in mind, it won't shock a single one of you to learn that by the time the interview actually went public, she was already his ex-wife.
Unfortunately, in one of the biggest oversights in journalism history, the article included zero pictures of these potentially world-changing pieces of art. For now, we'll just have to assume that they're every bit as insane as Terrence Howard himself.
Tom Brady Is Totally Voting For Donald Trump
Awww, did you think I'd get all the way through this without mentioning Donald Trump? Sorry, but I never promised that in the slightest. In fact, since I've spent the last month being called a crazy person for caring at all about what he might be up to, I'll take this opportunity to do the exact same thing to someone else. So without further delay, let's talk about Tom Brady.
He made tons of headlines a while back when he seemed to endorse Trump for president, after a reporter made note of the stupid "Make America Great Again" hat he had proudly displayed in his locker. When asked about it, Brady had this to say:
"It's pretty amazing what he's been able to accomplish. He obviously appeals to a lot of people, and he's a hell of a lot of fun to play golf with."
OK, no big deal. It's not like he endorsed the guy, or said that he hopes he actually becomes president someday. However, he did say that very thing like a week later when another reporter brought it up. Specifically, when asked if he thought Trump had a shot at winning, he said this:
"I hope so. That would be great. There'd be a putting green on the White House lawn. I'm sure of that."
Right. For starters, as this Sports Illustrated article correctly points out, the White House has had a putting green on its lawn for the longest damn time. Also, that's the stupidest fucking reason a person could possibly come up with to justify their vote.
It's at this point that I'd like to take a moment to mention that Brady did eventually go on record to say that his words didn't constitute an actual endorsement of Trump. That doesn't mean he took back anything he said, of course, but if you're the type of person who only reads a headline before reacting, you're already somewhere in the bowels of the comments section telling me that I should be ashamed of my lazy research habits. Since you're already gone anyway, hey, fuck you.
Also, like I said, it's not like he said he wasn't voting for Trump. Instead, he just said this:
"Whatever I vote is going to be my own personal choice based on how I feel. I don't even know what the issues are. I haven't paid attention to politics in a long time so ... It's actually not something that I really even enjoy. It's way off my radar."
Reading that is infinitely more depressing than if he'd just said he'd done all the pertinent research and was voting accordingly. I suppose "I don't even pay attention" isn't that uncommon of a stance to take in most situations, but this is different. For one thing, he's talking about a candidate whose entire platform centers around hating immigrants. Tom Brady married an immigrant.
Stop taking all the good supermodel jobs!
That his best golf buddy would prefer that his wife had never been allowed to enter this country in the first place should be a concern.
Even worse, his refusal to acknowledge explicitly racist and xenophobic rhetoric came a full month after two men in Boston -- the same area Brady's team represents -- were arrested for beating a homeless man with a metal pole and then urinating on him, all while shouting about how "Donald Trump was right" and "All these illegals need to be deported." How did they know he was an illegal immigrant? Because he was homeless and Hispanic.
To his credit, Trump did tweet something in the aftermath of the incident about how he'd never "condone violence" against anyone. But when someone asked about the incident during a press conference, he added this:
"I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country, they want this country to be great again."
Apparently, these are the kind of "issues" Tom Brady didn't have the time or energy to look into before gushing about the possibility of hitting golf balls on the White House lawn. If you're wondering why I'm so concerned that more people might be considering Trump as a viable option than anyone realizes, shit like that is exactly why.
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Celebrities have a habit of keeping their true selves away from their public persona, even if their true selves happen to be better than their public persona. Dr. Oz might be a snake oil salesman, but you'll find he's actually a brilliant doctor in 6 Dumb Celebrities Who Are Way Smarter Than You Think. And while every member of Public Enemy is certifiably crazy, see why you'd totally watch their movie in 5 Famous Bands With Backstories That Would Make Great Movies.
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