Posts Tagged The Paranoid Style

Varg Vikernes Arrested In France On Suspicion Of Flushing Oranges Down Toilet

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In the early hours of the morning on Saturday, black metal legend and media icon Varg Vikernes was arrested by French police on suspicion of being the mastermind of a devious plot to cause mayhem in France.  Vikernes, who was staying at  L’Hotel Aisselle in Paris, purchased a bag of oranges and flushed one down the hotel’s toilet “in the name of Odin”.  The event, which led to Vikernes’ arrest and incarceration, caused him to be immediately suspended as host of the top rated Norwegian children’s television show “This Little Quisling”.

By flushing the oranges, Varg hoped to destroy the hotel’s plumbing causing untold confusion and panic in the city, eventually leading to the collapse of the French government.  In the ensuing chaos, the government would be replaced by a proto-fascist black metal dictatorship.  After the first orange was flushed, Vikernes was captured by an alert member of the hotel’s maintenance staff and detained until French police arrived.  During a 47-hour interrogation, Vikernes revealed he was planning an orange flushing spree throughout the city of Paris that would “rival the German invasion of France in the 1950’s”.

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Vikernes is no stranger to controversy.  Back in 1992, he was arrested in Trondheim for feeding seagulls Alka-Seltzer in an attempt to cause them to explode.  During a 1993 sleepover, Varg was accused of putting warm water in Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar’s hand in an attempt to cause him to wet his bed.  Charges in both cases were dropped for lack of evidence, but in 1994, Varg was given six months in prison for putting a whoopee cushion on the chair of Trondheim mayor Marvin Wiseth’s chair during a press conference moments before he sat down.

While in prison, Vikernes dreamed up the musical project he’d be best known for, Burzum.  Using a diabolical mixture of raw black metal and elevator music, Vikernes’ has inspired a generation of talented, potentially employable young people to pursue careers in creating poorly produced, inaudible music for almost no one.  His music, which is both deeply personal and horribly unlistenable (much like the poetry of an alienated, disaffected 6th grader), pays homage to Varg’s two greatest influences, Adolf Hitler and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The threat of oranges being flushed down the toilet is not only considered a major concern in France.  In an effort to protect Americans from dangerous orange flushing related activities, the US government today banned all oranges from domestic and international flights, wiretapped the phones of twelve Carmelite nuns in Arizona suspected of “orange-growing activities” and used drones to attack a village in Pakistan.

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Westboro Baptist Church To Protest Funeral of Iron Maiden Guitarist Janick Gers; Gers Claims He’s Not Dead

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The Westboro Baptist Church is at it again.  This time, they have planned a massive protest at the funeral of Iron Maiden guitar player Janick Gers.  There is only one problem; Gers believes that he is not dead.

“The whole thing is preposterous! My pulse is beating….you want to feel it,” claimed Gers to a roomful of skeptical reporters.

In spite of Gers protestations, the Internet has been filled with articles about his passing into the afterlife.  Facebook has registered over 10,000 “RIP Janick” posts in the last several days.  The Westboro Baptist Church has already flown 4,000 protestors to Des Moines, Iowa, where Gers’ memorial service is supposed to be held next week.  Yet, in the face of overwhelming evidence, Gers will simply not admit that he is dead.

“You have to believe me!  I’m alive!  ALIVE!!!!!!” howled Gers as he fended off two EMTs who were trying to force him to lie down on a stretcher in order to be transported to the morgue.

The cause of death is yet to be determined and probably will not be until Gers agrees to an autopsy.  So far, he has refused to be dissected. “If he’s alive, then let’s have him prove it,” said Des Moines Chief Medical Examiner Claude Perineum, “if we get in there and find out he’s telling the truth, we will immediately stich him back up and send him on his way.  Otherwise, he’s just being dishonest and wasting the time and money of the taxpayers.”

While many in the metal world have grieved the supposed passing of Gers, Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps has been overjoyed.  Phelps, who believes that America is being punished for its acceptance of gays and lesbians and its tolerance for high amounts of fluoride in the water supply, has already arrived in Iowa for the funeral.  According to Phelps, “the decadent lifestyle and love of Satan preached by these British ne’er-do-wells has eroded the moral fabric of America.  Iron Maiden’s singer, Ron Halford, is, in fact, an admitted homosexual!!!”

WBC Pastor Fred Phelps Prepares To Welcome Maiden Fans To Iowa

WBC Pastor Fred Phelps Prepares To Welcome Maiden Fans To Iowa

At a rally last night at The Des Moines Church of Christ The Climate Change Denier, Phelps announced that he had in his possession proof that heavy metal is a Trojan horse being used to turn America into a “breeding ground for the gay way of life”.  “In my hand right now is a list of 205 homosexuals in the heavy metal world!” hollered Phelps with his grocery list grasped tightly and held over his head.

Many Iron Maiden fans plan to attend the memorial service whether Gers is dead or not.  “Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all-time and, even though no one can figure out why they needed a third guitarist, this is indeed a terrible loss, if it is true, which it might not be,” said devout Maiden listener Kent Tekulve, who plans on walking over 1,000 miles from his home in Flagstaff, Arizona to the service.

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Buggin’ Out: The Paranoid Style in American Motel Rooms

Few films capture the spirit of modern American paranoia better than William Friedkin‘s 2006 film “Bug“.  It is a bleak, disturbing picture of two people consumed by sadness and connected through a shared feeling of conspiratorial persecution. Peter Evans (Michael Shannon) is a drifter who wanders into the life of Agnes White (Ashley Judd).  They quickly find themselves embroiled in one of the more unhealthy relationships in recent film history.  Agnes has barely survived a horrifically abusive marriage and the kidnapping of her young son.  Peter has just finished a stretch some sort of shadowy psychiatric hospital where, depending on who you believe, he was either a severely disturbed escaped patient or a survivor of a series of Operation MK-Ultra meets The Manchurian Candidate type experiments.  Together, they become the proverbial Bogey and Bacall of the Black Helicopter set.  It would be easy to dismiss their ideas as the demented imaginings of two troubled people, but the narrative they construct about the meaning of lives and their relationship to the world is a powerful statement about modern mass hysteria.

Peter gets the paranoia party started by insisting that a mysterious THEY have put bugs in his blood.  He is deeply committed to this idea, to the point of yanking some of his own teeth out in order to remove the egg sacs that are in his mouth.  Quickly, things spiral out of control.  They cover the walls of the room in tin foil, buy up half the bug zappers in Oklahoma and embark on a wild spree of shared psychosis and Dionysian self destruction that eventually annihilates them.  The logic that gets them to this point is nothing short of amazing.  They come to believe that everything that is happening to them is somehow connected to a greater plan.  Peter connects his own experience to sixty years of back room schemes created by a mysterious unnamed cabal bent on completely enslaving the entire human race.  In an amazing monologue, Peter manages to link the bugs he believes to be carrying to The People’s Temple in Jonestown, the Bilderberg Group and their secret meetings from 1954 until the present and even Timothy McVeigh (who was apparently the other lab rat who was given these bugs).  Agnes soon links her own experiences to his and comes to realize that her abusive ex-husband and missing child are also products of the exact same treachery.  It is the “everything happens for a reason” philosophy writ larger than life.  All of these random, non-intersecting parts mean something.  Each person’s life is a giant puzzle where all the pieces fit.  It’s just a matter of collecting them all together and putting them in the correct places and then it will all make sense.  This is the sort of thinking that Kurt Vonnegut lays bare in his book “The Sirens of Titan“.  In that book, the entire arc of human history has been measured and calibrated in order create a replacement part for an alien space ship which will one day have the important task of placing a “greeting” message on a far away planet.  We all have a purpose and that purpose happens to be completely absurd.

“Bug” takes this theme and runs wild with it.  The characters have created meaning for their lives out of a mess of half-baked theories. Peter and Agnes really believe that this crazy composite of events was created for them.  They see themselves as the protagonists of human history.  They don’t simply pick one story as their narrative; they pick every single one that they have ever heard.  The world really does revolve around them.

As I was watching this film I began to wonder if this was an accurate portrayal of the condition of the paranoia that exists in the minds of most Americans?  Since I have never been in the minds of most Americans, I am not really able to say for sure. However, things are getting pretty weird out here in the real world and I have to wonder whether some of this isn’t the product of the same ideas that drove Peter and Agnes into mental oblivion.  After all, there are a good number of people who will tell you that our President was born in Kenya, the National Security Council masterminded the 9/11 attacks, or the Federal Reserve killed John F. Kennedy.  I’m not really interested in debating the validity of the ideas, I personally don’t believe them, but if you do that is really fine with me.   I have a few pretty bizarre ideas about human history myself.  What I find interesting about these theories is that how they illustrate the Woodward and Bernstein fantasy that some people are living.  We are the investigators of some great cosmic puzzle whose pieces are scattered willy-nilly through a series of cultural and political markers.  We are Sherlock Holmes turning our collective magnifying glass on everything.  Media events are not things unto themselves; they are clues that connect us all to a larger picture.

Marshall McLuhan argued in his book “Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man” that modern technology had “extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace”.  In “Bug”, Peter and Agnes disappear as individuals and instead try to take on the narrative of the human race as their new identity.  McLuhan saw this loss of identity as a dangerous thing.  He ominously noted that “the loss of individual and personal meaning via the electronic media ensures a corresponding and reciprocal violence from those so deprived of their identities; for violence, whether spiritual or physical, is a quest for identity and the meaningful”  (Canadian Forum, 1976)  This quote is “Bug” in a nutshell.  Two beings entirely destroyed (first as individuals, next as physical beings) by the electric connection to the rest of the world.  If violence is a necessary and eventual component of this search for identity then maybe we do have a great deal to be paranoid of.

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