Trading carrots for chocolate pudding since 2012.
I am in Los Angeles visiting a couple of my friends. In between going out to eat constantly and doing independent research on which bar has the best beer and best looking bartenders we managed to go see a movie (go figure, a movie in Hollywood!). The movie we saw was Room 237, which is a documentary about Stanley Kubrick’s movie The Shining. The documentary offers several different explanations as to what the movie The Shining was actually representing (or what the hidden meaning of the movie was) as told by several conspiracy theorists. They cited things like faking the Apollo 11 moon landing, Native American genocide and The Holocaust as possible hidden meanings to Kubrick’s film. All of these conspiracy theorists make compelling arguments and there are things in the film to support their claims, but interestingly enough each person who presents their theory also has a background in that area. For example the person who suggests that The Shining is about The Holocaust is a historian who has studied World War II and The Holocaust, making him sensitive and much more prone to noticing such material. I’m not trying to say what Kubrick’s intentions were (or weren’t) and whether or not any/all/none of the theories presented in the documentary are right or wrong. What became clear to me from the film and in discussing it afterwards with my friends Mike and Kevin is that it’s fairly easy to find “hidden meaning” in something that really might not have any. I say this with all due respect to conspiracy theories, conspiracy theorists, conspiracies and theories. Having said all of that, here is a six step guide on how to start your very own conspiracy theory!
For the sake of this guide I will use storefront restrooms being for patrons only. Consider this everyday situation. You are out and about running errands in a big city. After you drop your bills off at the post office you continue down the street when suddenly the five cups of coffee you had earlier freeze you in your tracks. You need to go to the bathroom and you need to do it now. You turn to walk into the closest storefront where you are greeted with a sign that reads “restrooms are for patrons only”. So says the sign on the next storefront, and the next and the next. What gives? As George Costanza once said in an episode of Seinfeld where he defended his decision to urinate in the shower “It’s all pipes what’s the difference?!”. As you sprint down the street you become irate. Why? Why can’t I use that coffee shop bathroom? What would it hurt? What’s the big deal? What’s the conspiracy behind public bathroom use to non-patrons?
Pictures and videos exist of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Astronauts have brought back moon rocks. Rock ships have been built and seen by thousands of people being launched into space. Despite this, conspiracy theorists still suggest that we didn’t land on the moon and insist that the images we see are from a Hollywood sound stage. Let’s revisit our conspiracy theory about storefront restrooms. It’s obvious these places offer restrooms for the use of their patrons only in order to keep them, along with their stores, clean. In larger cities like Los Angeles there are homeless people who walk the streets. Many places do not want their restrooms to turn into showers for these down on their luck individuals. In order to create a conspiracy theory we must ignore these important facts and instead look for somebody who would ultimately gain from having storefront restrooms be for patrons only. The obvious answer here would be the owner of the store. He or she has to spend less time cleaning the restroom and customers get to enjoy a cleaner facility. However this is too simple, too obvious and not interesting enough. A good conspiracy theory seeks to address something that isn’t very obvious while continuing to ignore obvious facts. In this case, we ignore that business owners want to keep their restrooms and store fronts clean for themselves and their customers. Obviously someone or something else is in play here.
The theory should appear to not really be connected with what is being covered up, and should also be somewhat broad and vague. If no good ideas come to mind, just blame the government. Obviously, the government has something to do with storefront restrooms being for patrons only.
We’ve all been inside of a Post Office or a DMV. Have you ever even seen a restroom in any of these facilities? Sure they must have them (or do they – here is a spin-off conspiracy theory) but they are nowhere in sight. Isn’t it weird that Post Offices or DMV’s are usually located in strip malls or near other storefronts? It’s like they are strategically placed to observe people. You know what they say, big brother is always watching! Ever go inside of a cell phone store? They don’t even offer bathrooms for patrons, and with the GPS technology in cell phones nowadays the government can easily track your exact location. Not to mention that storefront restrooms being for patrons only suggests that you must purchase one of the goods/services being offered from the store. What is tacked onto almost every purchase? A tax from the government! And don’t even get me started on the Health Department randomly inspecting restaurants to make sure they, along with their facilities, are clean. If they cared so much about public health why would they allow McDonald’s hamburgers to be sold for consumption!
What could the government possibly be covering up when it comes to this? Do they have anything to gain from the “privatization” of storefront restrooms? Have you ever noticed that in most storefront restrooms you must ask for a key in order to gain access? I mean it’s not enough you are forking over your hard-earned money, now you have to request a key in order to even enter the restroom like it’s some sort of chamber of secrets. Wait, that’s it! Most storefront restrooms are located in a fairly close proximity to a Post Office, DMV or some other government type building (don’t tell me people regularly go in and out of Army recruitment centers…) or are at least being monitored by some closed circuit “security camera” and are kept under lock and key in order to aid in the cover up of Roswell! Aliens are being kept under lock and key in these storefront restrooms. Once a patron turns the key to enter the restroom a revolving wall is activated, turning the alien observation room and containment chamber into an innocent looking bathroom.
When explaining your theory it is important to properly setup your story. If you just go right into your theory people may think you’re crazy, so it’s imperative to set up your theory with a phase like “I know this might sound crazy, but stay with me”. Use short, timely pauses to let certain facts sink in and provide relatable information. In our case, point out the location of Post Office buildings in close proximity to other storefronts. Point out how silly it actually is to have to use a key to enter a restroom. After dispensing your theory finish it off with a grin and a shrug. This suggests that hey, anything is possible!
And there you have it, a simple six step process on how to create your own conspiracy theory. Now you can be that weird guy at a party who everyone thinks is super enlightened.