Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Conspiracy theories

Some variations of dystopian narratives take root in certain niches of our society, especially in online communities, in which the paranoid idea of an hypothetical grey eminence who works in secret to subvert the order of the world push millions of users to gather in forums (such as the notorious TheGreatAwakening on Reddit), social pages and the comment section of YouTube videos. Some of these conspiracy theories, including QAnon (a theory first appeared in 2016 according to which the world is dominated by a liberal, pedophile and Satanist elite that sacrifices human beings), the Great Reset (a theory propagandizing the upcoming introducition of an "health dictatorship "promoting liberticidal policies and mandatory vaccinations as a consequence of the Sars Cov-2 epidemic), the flat earth movement, no-vax and no-mask groups, refer to the imagery shaped by Orwell and Huxley, which has become part of the propaganda agenda promoted even by political members of the alt-right. Apart from the strictly contemporary online conspiracy discourse, it is possible to trace the origin of modern conspiracy theories back to the Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, a trilogy of novels published between 1975 and 1984 that employed satirical tones to describe the clash between the secret society of the Illuminati and the Discordantists, followers of a parodic cult. The comic series V for Vendetta (1982) by Alan Moore and the film of the same name of 2005, on the contrary, tell the story of an anarchist who fights against a totalitarian government in a dystopian London. The franchise soon became part of the popular imagination: V’s mask, first used by the hacker group Anonymous, has become a symbol for the movements opposed to the so-called “powers that be”,such as QAnon and the “yellow vests” movement in France. Something similar happened with the dystopian-science fiction film trilogy of Matrix, whose recurring terms have been borrowed by the RedPill movement, a branch of the Incel theory (“involuntary celibate”, a web sub-culture that considers feminism as part of a plot to damage the male population), and with the TV series X-Files (Fox, 1994-2002; 2016; 2018), whose mythology has been absorbed by UFO conspiracy theorists.
It is also possible to find elements deriving from conspiracy theories in films such as They Live (1988) by John Carpenter, in which the world is actually ruled by an alien elite, and Interstellar (2014) by Christopher Nolan. In the latter, it is the main character that rebels against a state conspiracy, according to which man has never stepped on the moon, a theory spread among kids to discourage space travels and focus the energy on agriculture in a world on the verge of apocalypse.