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Kino Korner



Kino: The Winged Beatle

May

23

by

These two guys don’t look alike at all!!1

Constellations never made any sense to me. The stars are just randomly plotted around the night sky and it always seemed arbitrary to me to say that certain stars make up one constellation while others are separate. And all the shapes they were mean to represent were never apparent to me, even when other people tried to point them out and connect the dots.

The Winged Beatle reminded me of how I can be astrologically challenged in that sense. It’s a documentary which promotes the conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966 and has now been replaced by a doppelganger. This is “proved” by a series of unrelated anomalies and “clues” mostly hidden in Beatles music and the album artwork.

The reason I say this is like astrology is that the film avoids making any definitive conclusion like the plague. Like the astrologers, the filmmakers behind this leave it to their audience to connect most of the dots. This must be satisfying to the believers since it allows for a sense of interactivity with the movie.

This is demonstrated early on when the film gets close to making some kind of claim about The Beatles trying to establish themselves at the helm of a new religion. At first I had trouble figuring out of the filmmakers were complaining about this or just “exposing” a fun new facet to this band they loved, probably because I apparently live in some kind of atheist bubble and sometimes have trouble telling what’s offensive to religious people.

After poking around a few reviews and the comment sections that followed, it looks like those who buy into this stuff aren’t very happy about it. These people are so backwards that they’re still into this idea that normal rock music is part of Satan’s evil plan. They haven’t even caught up with the ignorant hicks who think punk, metal, and hip hop are Satanic plots to get kids to cast spells on their parents.

The details aren’t quite clear, but the basic gist of what they say happened is this: Paul McCartney died in a car accident. Instead of cashing in on the tragedy the way pretty much every other band that lost a member too early would, the Beatles hushed it up. They replaced Paul with someone else. Probably Billy Shears. The band would publicly deny this any time it came up during interviews or other public appearances, but would also leave maddeningly incomplete “hints.” According to those behind TWB, The Beatles were basically trolling their fans.

I think most of the “evidence” presented in the film can be lumped into two categories, and I’m going to illustrate the categories by using two examples. First would be some supposed backwards messages in the music, especially a bit in Strawberry Fields Forever which is supposed to be John Lennon saying “I buried Paul.” The Official Story from the Beatles is that he was actually saying “cranberry sauce.” Of course when this excerpt is played in the movie, the audience is primed with a caption suggesting that Lennon was saying that he buried McCartney.

This, along with another instance where someone close to the band said that Paul “isn’t the same guy” – a seemingly obvious reference to a sudden change in McCartney’s character – I think falls under the category of deception on the part of those spreading the idea that Paul is dead. Either they’ve fooled themselves or they’re consciously fooling others. And they do it by cherry-picking and misrepresenting evidence so that it fits with their theory.

The other category of evidence presented in TWB involves when I think the Beatles were trolling their more gullible fans as part of a marketing gimmick. I don’t have evidence to support this but what this interpretation has over the alternative (i.e. that McCartney really is dead) is that it involves less scheming and intense secrecy.

So let’s say you’re in a rock band and some people mistakenly believe your bassist died. This adds intrigue to your group and intrigue means money. So you feed into that by, say, using some death imagery in some of your album artwork. Like the flowers arranged in the shape of a bass at the lower left-hand corner of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, which is supposed to represent a grave.

Lots of bands have done this kind of thing since the sixties and it’s gotten to the point where it can all be very blatant and over-the-top. One of my favorite bands growing up was called the Mephiskapheles, whose debut album was called God Bless Satan. Lots of punk and heavy metal bands embraced Satanic and death imagery back in the 80s. Fans appreciated it when their favorite bands directly confronted the religious right’s hysteria over the supposedly degrading culture in that way.

To be sure, I’m not saying I have some secret memo from the Beatles manager where he pitched these ideas to the band. But this is just a simpler explanation for the data points TWB brings up that aren’t intentionally deceptive. So if you take out all the evidence TWB brings up that is deceitful and misrepresentative, and then you take out everything that would be better explained by simple opportunism on the band’s part, you’re left with, well, nothing at all.

But really what’s most frustrating about this stuff is in how so many questions are left unanswered. Why would the band give away this secret? What’s the point of that? The only thing close to an explanation is that Alesteir Crowley wrote a couple of sentences about how he liked backwards writing and backwards speech in one of his books once.

The Winged Beatle doesn’t deal with any of the obvious follow-up questions. It only focuses on pattern recognition, and we as a species are very susceptible to false positives when it comes to perceiving patterns where none exist. We’ve been doing it for a long time. Back when we lived outside and slept under the stars, we invented constellations. Now that we live indoors and fall asleep watching TV, we make nonsensical patterns with our pop culture.

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BEASTcast 32: Matt Mogk

May

14

by

Matt Mogk is head of the Zombie Research Society. He’s also the author of That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies. His upcoming graphic novel is ZDC: Zombie Disease Control. We talk about zombies. There may be a few minor spoilers for The Walking Dead, The Road, Dead-Alive, Night of the Living Dead, and Contagion. Music is by Pigface and is used with permission. You can subscribe to the BEASTcast here or rate and/or leave a review in iTunes.

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The BEASTies: Moneyball

Feb

26

by

“We’ll talk later, my agent is on the other line for a role in a movie that hasn’t been made 135,000 times before.”

0-15:00 That guy from that French movie is in charge of a fantasy baseball team and he gets kicked out of the stadium for his “team” because it’s closed. Also, he’s drinking absinthe straight from the bottle and has puked over most of row D-23. After bailing him out, his buddy has an intervention and asks him if he wants to try managing his baseball team or something to help get his mind of drinking in empty stadiums by himself at night all the time. When he gets there he learns The Establishment of Baseball doesn’t care about whether or not the players can actually play baseball. They decide who gets on their team based solely on their blood types and astrological signs.

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The BEASTies: The Tree of Life

Feb

22

by

Brad Pitt shows his son how many prostitutes he murdered that night.

0-15:00 So there’s this conservative Christian family in the 50s or 60s and they  found out their son just went and got a sex change operation. They have a neighborhood prayer meeting  in the hopes she would go to Marcus Bachmann’s recovery center. Half a century later the other brother is all grown up and starts thinking about growing up with his brother / now sister. He gets all creeped out by it because he’s still a trans-phobic Christian asshole. So he drunk dials his dad and makes fun of his toupee.

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The BEASTies: War Horse

Feb

15

by

 ”That one alone will get us a couple crates of glue!” 

0-15:00 The movie opens with John Williams piloting a plane with his orchestra who he has kidnapped. The deal is that they have to keep playing that sappy music he likes so much or else he will crash the plane. You ever wondered how he managed to get so much soundtrack work? Now you know. So Williams is spying on this town which seems to exist only for the sake of a horse-driven economy. Most people’s lives revolve around buying and selling horses. No other commerce is permitted. One of these horses is called War Horse, and a family trains him to assassinate a member of Austrian royalty. War Horse is obviously a code name for Whitney Houston. The horse starts smoking rocks all day.

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The BEASTies: Midnight in Paris

Feb

10

by

0-10:00 Johnny and Jane America have tagged along with Jane’s parents to Paris. They hate each other and are probably only engaged to spite each other. Jane meets up with some of her friends and they all go out of town together so they can throw rocks at Johnny while yelling homophobic slurs at him for being a sissy boy who enjoys France, rain, and other gay stuff like that.

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The BEASTies: The Help

Feb

07

by

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0-20:00 This movie is set in a commune of Ron Paul supporters who like to bus in African-American women from the movie Gone With the Wind to show them what it’s like to have liberty and stuff. Aibileen and Minny are two of them. Skeeter is a blogger and has a quota of 15 posts per day, not including LOLcats. This is very difficult to do without any internet, so she gets her white supremacist friends to loan her their slaves to sub-contract out her blogging “work.” We also meet a woman named Celia  who is ostracized because she is too naive to be racist, and Hilly the former Nazi prison guard.

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The BEASTies, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Feb

05

by

Tom Hanks revives his role from Toy Story 3 as an al Qaeda terrorist. This time he’s bombing the World Trade Center on orders from Dick Cheney and Popular Mechanics magazine. On September 11, his son Oskar is let out of his Modrassa early so he can burn American flags and celebrate the beginning of the final battle between the followers of the Prophet Mohammed and the infidels. When he gets home, he listens to the messages on his answering machine from Tom Hanks (Peace and Blessings Be Upon His Name) which inform him that their mission was a success and that Allah is great.

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