Fakes On a Plane

Conspiracy buffs craft their own online WTC movies

Other directors have begun to uplift Truthie cinema. Austin, Texas, talk-radio host Alex Jones has pumped out a string of slicker productions, including Martial Law 9-11: Rise of the Police State, 911: The Road to Tyranny, and Police State III: Total Enslavement, in addition to earlier pre-9/11 videos about other conspiracies. A strident opponent of the "New World Order," Jones cuts a more Michael Moore-esque figure, inserting footage of himself "bullhorning" at protests, interviewing bystanders, and being subsequently harassed by police—and in his recent TerrorStorm, briefly confronts Moore himself. Jones' preacherly theatrics have helped him rack up a few Hollywood connections. Charlie Sheen is an outspoken fan, and Jones has contributed animated cameos in Richard Linklater's films Waking Lifeand A Scanner Darkly.

Director Dylan Avery, a 22-year-old from Oneonta, New York, has emerged as the hot young star of the skeptic set with his 2005 'tude-filled feature Loose Change. Avery claims in a recent Vanity Fairprofile that he's received over 50,000 orders for the Loose Change DVD and over 10 million viewings online, and says he's in talks with a number of studios to release an updated cut of the film on Sept. 11, 2006. His name frequently pops up in Technorati's daily list of most searched-for keywords, and his MySpace profile boasts over 3,500 friends. By mainstream media standards, Loose Change remains ultra-low budget, but with Avery's casual, no-nonsense voiceover, tight editing, and hip-hop DJ'd score, it's by far the most accomplished and accessible example of 9/11 Truth cinema, though not free of the questionable fact-sourcing practiced by its peers (most egregious: "According to Wikipedia . . .").

In true Internet fashion, Loose Change has even spawned a counter-video. Mark Iradian's Screw Loose Change takes on "911 deniers" by subtitling a running commentary over Avery's video, parrying and mocking his arguments as they unfold. William Lewis and Dave von Kleist's woefully titled 911 in Plane Site also generated a critique, Not in Plain Sight. In this case, the attack comes from within the movement: Not in Plain Sight's anonymous author claims that In Plane Site is so full of errors that it must be intentional disinformation created to mislead and discredit the movement. (Not in Plain Sight also includes the most wonderfully bizarre music of any of these works: looping, whoomping synth blurts that resemble discarded takes from the 1980 Flash Gordon soundtrack.)

Despite these limits, the 9/11 conspiracy docs will surely inspire further imitation, and their wiki-style muckraking is bound to dig up something important during an administration addicted to data-fudging and cover-ups. In a world that increasingly seems all fringe and no center, other radical and niche ideologies will undoubtedly embrace the no-holds-barred, blog-friendly, direct-to-YouTube format. With any luck, we'll see a whole new batch three years from now, made by embittered, paranoid conservatives who have been voted out of power.

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