[16 April 2009]
PopMatters Film and TV Editor
It’s quite easy to be called crazy, you know what I mean. Anybody can be called crazy about anything.
“He has sort of like a charisma,” young Luke Rudowski observes while watching a clip of Alex Jones. He has “a very loud voice and he’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind.” Most often, what’s on Jones’ mind is deceit and corruption. “Alex Jones,” Jones says of himself, “has this belief system about world order. Alex Jones can’t articulate how diabolical and totally wicked they are. It isn’t some magical thing, karma reap what you sew. It’s what happens. You start crapping on everyone else around you, pretty soon you’re all swimming in crap.”
A Dallas-born talk radio host and filmmaker, Jones means to wade through that crap, to find the truth and share it. By way of introduction to his life’s work, he takes the makers of New World Order along on a pilgrimage to Dealey Plaza. “We’re going back to Eden,” he explains as he drives. But, he cautions, “It’s not a wonderful, beautiful place. It’s a horrible place, where the military industrial complex murdered our last real president in broad daylight in front of everyone. It’s the birthplace of what you could call the ‘conspiracy culture.’” This culture comprises a range of concerns, from UFOs and JFK to Waco, Katrina, and 9/11. This culture also, as Jones describes it, is premised on essential American values. “All of my films,” he says while walking past the book depository, camera in hand, “are about exposing things that powerful individuals, powerful organizations, have done to oppress smaller countries or groups of people. I have a passion to awaken people, to show them things that I have discovered, that others have seen.” He pauses, his lens pointed off screen.
It’s a telling moment in Luke Meyer and Andrew Neil’s documentary, Jones posed and keenly self-performative. Much like their previous film, Darkon (which looked at wargamers), New World Order observes its subjects closely and without making obvious judgment. Instead, it tracks the efforts of anti-new world order activists like Jones, Brooklyn College student Rudowski, Turkish filmmaker and theremin player Timuçin Leflef, and former Phoenix policeman Jack McLamb, as each pursues his own investigations and then shares what he finds. The internet, of course, is crucial to this community, whose interests vary widely (“I don’t believe in aliens,” asserts Orlando property manager Mike Edgarton, “I really could care less who shot John F. Kennedy, I don’t give a fuck whether we landed on the moon or not. Yes, the Holocaust did happen. I’ve been to Dachau and seen that kind of stuff. I believe 9/11 was an inside job”). First and foremost, they believe that they’re being lied to, daily and purposefully, if ineffectively, and they resent it.
One focus of their anger is the Bilderberg Group, a cabal of some 130 elites (for example, Daimler Chrysler’s Jurgens Schrempp, former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, and “Rockefeller frontman Henry Kissinger”) who meet annually, by invitation only and secretly. The new world order activists believe the aims of this group to be nefarious, that they plot to “implement world policies.” “I would like them stopped, actually,” Leflelf says, but as this is likely impossible, “The best thing would be to get some transparency to their meetings.” To this end, agitators discover the meeting’s location and time, then demonstrate with placards and loud noise as limos drive past them. “I’m here today because, like every year, I’m here to chase Bilderberg,” declares one protestor of the 2007 meeting in Istanbul, “Like termites, you turn the rock over and see what those bugs are going.”
Such vibrant metaphors typify the new world order movement, as adherents fight back against broad-based conspiracies and threats. The focus of many interviewees—wearing Ron Paul t-shirts or sporting “9/11 was an Inside Job” bumper stickers on their gear—remains 9/11, as this led to the war in Iraq, the current global economic crisis, the handling of Katrina, and other catastrophes, past and pending. Though New World Order doesn’t cite it, a relevant text for many “9/11 truthers” is Loose Change, the two-hours-plus film that details theories about the U.S. government’s orchestration of 9/11 (a third and “final cut” was released to the net on 2007, with much of its content is changed from the first two versions).
No matter whether you believe specific claims made by Jones or Loose Change, what’s at issue in any of these protests and excavations is their outrage and abject distrust of “the government.” Jones expresses his concerns in particularly colorful language. The night before one protest, he assumes that a fire alarm in his hotel is an effort to stop him, then points out the car following his crew as they drive away; during one radio performance, he has a caller laughing, perhaps uncomfortably, as he acts out the conspirators’ position against “civilians,” fuming and frothing. “We run this country now,” he cackles, assuming a deeply “Southern” accent to approximate the voice of the fascist cracker-cops who will be raping the regular folks. “Come on little piggy, let me hear you squeal. We run it, and it’s ours, we’re gonna learn you, boy, we’re gonna learn you good.”
Even as Jones’ performance reaches its frightening crescendo (is his ferocious blustering really so out of control and/or completely calculated?), it stands in contrast to the equally earnest self-declarations of Jan Dotson, one of the few women who even appear in this film, let alone speak. She and her husband live in a constitutional community, where they remember Randy Weaver’s valiant stand against the FBI, sing songs based on scripture, and describe the world’s moral structure: “There is no gray matter, it’s all either black or it’s white,” she proclaims, “When we know the truth, the truth truly will set us free.” More fervent than forlorn, the Dotsons reinforce each other’s views, immersed in a rural, survivalists’ environment.
For Rudwoski, living in the city and organizing protests (including security, staging, and a squad of volunteers), questions and comparison with his peers come up. “Sometimes I just want to wake up and just watch football or basketball again,” he confesses for the camera. “But I know what’s going on, I’ve educated myself… When you know something is wrong, if you don’t do something about it, you’re complicit, you’re allowing it to happen.” Leflef echoes this idea, seeing in 9/11 an “inciting event,” which “turned the world basically into chaos.” He’s mystified by his own passion, wishing at times that he had another way to organize his life. But Leflef is driven by a sense of mission, a faith that he must share what he knows. “It’s almost like the entire new world order apparatus has been scripted,” he says, and now, “It’s working like clockwork.” Or not. Disturbing as they are, the seeming conspiracies hardly seem systematic or efficient.
Still, New World Order is so carefully composed that its stories are both alarming and compelling. News reports of the collapsing world economy sound over Jones’ descent in an elevator with the camera watching from over his shoulder—it makes a profound and incessantly relevant point. Fear and a sense of powerlessness shape perspective, incite rage, and inspire doubt. “When does evil start reversing itself?” asks Jones. Katrina relief worker Seth Jackson is less easy about who’s to blame. His eyes wet with tears, he worries over the ways he and his fellows are perceived. “We want truth, we want a good life. It’s so real and people don’t get it and they think it’s a joke,” he says, “They have no clue how real we are.”