Tag Archives: conspiracy theory

The Head of Eli Broad

Informant Information – AL

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 20
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant has experience working in a lab at USC’s medical school that was next door to the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine. 

Informant: 

So if you don’t know Eli Broad he was like a billionaire real estate developer and insurance magnate in California, moneymoneymoneymoney, very very rich. Also, the namesake of the Broad museum downtown, which now of course houses his art collection. 

Now I, and a few of my coworkers at the lab, are of the very firm belief that– well you can take this escalator up from the bottom to the top floor of the Broad, and you get a little window where you can see into the big middle floor, which is where they store the art is stored under very, very careful temperature and humidity control I might add. 

So you’re telling me that Eli Broad, that when Eli Broad signed that check to establish that lab– in his name– to conduct stem cell research at USC, you’re telling me that that grant didn’t have any strings attached? Absolutely not. I’m sure that, in the Center for Regenerative Medicine, there’s a little room with a live feed that’s playing video footage from an abandoned corner of the art museum art storage room, where the cryogenically frozen head of Eli Broad is being monitored by USC physicians and just waiting for the moment when the Regenerative Medicine Center advances to the point where they can bring that motherfucker back! It’s sitting there! I mean it’s like– The Broad is a pyramid, a literal pyramid! 

I mean, come on. I don’t think it’s a huge piece of logic. I kind of, 5%, think it’s true. 

Analysis:

This piece of folklore is particularly interesting as a developing legend that speaks to many prominent themes of today’s society. Mortality– and the potential of immortality– have always been popular themes of folklore but are now especially relevant due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, cryogenic treatments have recently become a popular offering at wellness clinics and spas for those able to afford these treatments. This legend also captures the current disparities in quality and access to healthcare. Given that the costs associated with medical care are prohibitive for a large portion of our society, it is reasonable that legends would speculate on the treatments available to the ultra-wealthy. 

I really enjoyed learning about this legend, and it will be interesting to find out whether or not it will continue to gain popularity. 

Eli Broad and Living Forever

Background:

Informant (L) is a neuroscience major at USC double-majoring in art history.

L: This is a folk tale that’s very important to me, um, that I am convinced of is a fact. So, let me set the scene. I used to volunteer at a neuroscience research laboratory that was in one of the two newest buildings at the USC Health Science Campus. Um, and those two buildings are: the Zilka Neurogenic Institute and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine. Now, Eli Broad, for the unfamiliar, large, like real estate insurance magnate in California, billionaire billionaire, who just passed away in like, April of last year, I think. And so, is there like any more stereotypical, like on his deathbed, billionaire thing, to like write a giant grant for, then for like a fucking STEM cell research, like make-me-live-forever research institute, right? So I’m convinced that when like Broad wrote that grant, there were strings attached. It was not just to build the building. Like there is definitely a couple of USC doctors that are taking care of the body. And here’s the scene: If you go to Grand Ave., to downtown LA, which is like, Broad’s whole mission, was to like make that area upscale, which it is now, you can go to the Broad Museum, which is where his whole collection is. And part of the appeal of it is that you take this miniscule elevator that goes up from the ground floor to the top floor, and you can see through this little window, the large middle one, the large middle floor, which is where they keep all the art that’s in storage, under temperature and humidity control. Now how convenient to have all that temperature and humidity control technology laying around with a reason for it to be there? Is it possible that maybe hidden between all the sculptures, there’s a little case with the cryogenically-frozen head of Eli Broad? Is it possible that this museum is actually a pyramid to this dead man where they keep his corpse and there’s a little live-feed at the end? A video camera or two, sensors, and you got people in the regenerative center that are monitoring that feed and doing their research and just waiting for the day where they can bring the man back?

I: So like the Walt Disney thing?

L: Completely!

Context:

Informant was discussing a tale that he claims is true and intends to spread it to as many people as he can.

Analysis:

Fascinations with the mystery surrounding the elite upper echelons of society have been deeply embedded into our culture thanks to media and entertainment news. My informant tells a story about Eli Broad and his supposedly cryogenically-frozen state (which I relate back to Walt Disney). This conspiracy theory is somewhat similar to a memorate, taking observed experiences (the Regenerative Medicine Center, the Broad Museum, and the fact that Broad was extremely rich) and relating it to a traditional narrative belief system (cryogenic state and moderation of Broad). While this tale may be utterly false, my informant’s delivery of the story is particularly interesting—it first uses personal relation to the topic as ethos, then pieces together information in such a way to prove his point, then ends on rhetorical questions to his audience. Such a performance moves the audience emotionally to potentially believe in this theory. In general, the concept of living forever is also a point of fascination to humans, with objects like the Philosopher’s Stone supposedly being able to bring about eternal life. Such a fantastical element is also a compelling point of the narrative.

Polybius

Description: Poybius is a possibly fictional arcade game that was created during the 90s. There are people who recalled that such a game cabinet existed but no physical copies exist. There are those that believe the cabinets were a part of the MK ULTRA secret experiments 

Background: The informant obtained the information through internet videos.

Transcript:

DT: The supposed creation of an arcade cabinet during the 90s called Polybius. Someone thought it existed, and it spread from there like a Mandela effect, of people remembering something that didn’t actually exist but potentially vaguely similar to it. It’s an urban legend that lasted for a while, and even got assumed it was a part of the MK ULTRA secret experiments. With conspiracy theories coming up that the cabinet was created by the government to give people nightmares as a way to test stuff that leaked from MK ULTRA.

Me: So it(the cabinet) didn’t really exist?

DT: It’s still kinda unclear if a cabinet of the like actually existed or not, but the video I saw concluded that it most likely wasn’t real. I forget the specific evidence to prove this but it’s still kinda up in the air. But regardless of its existence, the crazy effect it had on if people remembered it or not was what really got people involved with it.

My thoughts:

The 90s were a time where rumors about digital media were abundant. Things that come to mind were numerous video game rumors such as the Mew under the truck in pokemon. At the time, the internet was still in its infancy and information was not easily accessible nor entirely accurate. The coupled with the introduction of new technology gave rise to many rumors and theories. Polybius is an example of a product of that time, when people didn’t have ready access to information and when any kind of information can be spoken from anywhere.

Biden’s Body Double

Description: Some people believe that the 2020 president, Joe Biden, is actually played by actor Jim Carrey while the previous president, Donald Trump, remains in power.

Background: The informant hears about crazy conspiracies constantly from their mother, who legitimately believes all of it.

Transcript:

TS: My mom thinks Biden is a body double played by Jim Carey who’s actually in a Hollywood set, being broadcast by the satanist hollywood elites to make people think he’s actually president, when really Trump is still in control. Maybe the Jim Carey stuff is iffy, but the general vibe is he’s a body double/clone or something.

Me: Is there a reason for there to be a body double and not just have trump win the election instead?

TS: No, so (she believes) Trump is a good guy and the elites are the bad guys. They’re scrambling cuz “oh no trumps still in power we got to make it seem like he isn’t”. So they have “fake Biden” to try and trick people. I think that’s the thought process? It’s wild because all the conspiracy stuff makes no sense or contradicts itself. My mom will be upset about stuff the Biden admin is doing, but it’s like “He’s not the real president tho why are u upset?”. It’s also like “If the illuminati cabal is so strong how did they even let Trump in in the first place?” Apparently that was because “so many people voted for Trump that he broke the algorithm to rig the vote”, which is LAUGHABLE as someone who deals with code stuff. She says the same thing happened in 2020, but this time like they’ve just been able to lie about it (unlike in 2016?). I could go on and on about this garbage, it’s funny but it’s also sad cuz my mom believes it and is terrified by it

My thoughts:

This is one of the most recent and relevant pieces that I have encountered. Conspiracy Theories stem from people’s distrust of the government since they do hide an enormous amount of information from us. This is a piece of Folklore that is currently having an effect on our nation’s political climate and the well being of other people. Because of these beliefs, the rights and life of people is placed into question. This of course, is also often discussed in regards to censorship. Should misinformation be allowed a place to exist? It’s interesting to hear a second hand account of these theories as it shows us the logic that people are willing to jump through in order to deny being wrong. In the end, I think these theories stem from a combination of Denial and a fragile ego. People making justifications in order to remain in a reality that they are correct. People who believe it also tend to be those who are either emotionally vulnerable or just very easily accept certain dogmatic beliefs.

Resident Evil and the Umbrella Corporation – A Covid Conspiracy Theory

Context:

My informant, AW, is my 15-year-old brother. He is heavily involved in multiple online gaming communities that exist on Discord and other social platforms. This piece was collected during an informal interview at home when I asked him to share something unique to the gaming community. He has heard about this conspiracy theory from many friends and in various internet forums. I refer to myself as SW in the text.

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Main Text:

AW: “There is a huge conspiracy theory going around about corona, and, relating to game called Resident Evil. And um, in that game it is basically a post – well not post but the apocalypse just happened, and um, you’re trying to stay alive and find whatever vaccine you can find, try to get out of that city or something but the entire city has turned to zombies, basically. And you and maybe one other person are still alive. But um, anyway the logo for the Chinese government is like a, or whatever Chinese… the logo for the Chinese… I don’t remember what it is exactly but it’s a… something that had to do with China and covid, and the logo for that uh, lab or brand or whatever it is, is like an umbrella. And it’s blue and white striped in the middle. The logo inside the game for the Umbrella Corporation which is the people who manufactured the vaccine, is that exact same logo just red and white. And people were saying that like… the Chinese whatever it was is the Umbrella Corporation and manufactured the vaccine and they’re gonna turn a bunch of people into zombies and stuff. And there was also, there was another thing that proved that theory, or conspiracy theory, that I don’t remember… But… I think it was like the logo and… I can’t remember but something else related it back to that same company. But that, a lot of people had fun conspirarizing – conspiring. 

SW: Did people actually believe it? Or was it like a…

AW: “Oh there was definitely people who actually believe it. But it was mainly, it mainly just started out as a joke and a ‘hey this is a funny coincidence!’ and then there’s the people who take it a step too far like ‘oh my gosh I actually believe this.’ So that was fun.”

SW: “Where did it start? Did it start like, within the games or did it start on discord or reddit or where did it come from?

AW: “I think it originated off of reddit.”

SW: “Most conspiracy theories come from reddit.”

AW: “Yeah. It was probably off the ResE reddit – Resident Evil reddit. But it… it spread everywhere. Like if you knew what Resident Evil was you know about that.”

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Analysis:

The covid-19 pandemic started millions of conspiracy theories that spread like wildfire online. I think this is because many people are looking for any source to blame for the pandemic, and would much rather unite against a known common enemy than try to fight an invisible virus. As AW mentioned, this particular theory mostly started as a joke based on a coincidence, but as it spread further it began to become an actual belief. This shows how exposure and stories from friends make you more likely to believe something, even if you normally wouldn’t. It’s interesting that it spread to basically everyone who knew about the game, showing how compelling folklore becomes part of the formal culture it is attached to or based on.