Nicole Kidman in To Die For (1995).
Operation mind control
- by Adrian Mack
The truth is you can’t throw a rock in Hollywood without hitting either a Sc*****logist or somebody from a similarly weird and frightening cult. It just so happens that in Van Sant’s circle of players, you don’t need a particularly strong throwing arm.
My Own Private Idaho star River Phoenix was raised inside the Children of God cult (which has since rebranded itself the Family International, or TFI), and died not too long after famously telling Details magazine that he lost his virginity at the age of four. Which isn’t surprising as the Children of God encouraged sex with minors and produced child pornography.
As tends to be the case with pseudo-religious sects involved in pedophilia and human trafficking—see the Reverend Moon’s Unification Church for another example – the Children of God had far-reaching political influence and protection, up until shit got a little out of control for everyone.
And making its regular cameo somewhere in the background of the tale is a certain auspicious American dynasty with ties from everything to the Third Reich, to the Kennedy assassination, to the introduction of crack into the American bloodstream, and the financing of international terrorism - whose current patriarch is joined at the hip with the CIA.
Alex Constantine writes, “In the United States the political pull of the sect extended to the Bush administration. A chorale of Family children kicked off a Christmas show in 1992 for Barbara Bush in the East Room of the White House, for which they received certificates of appreciation signed by President Bush.”
Van Sant would eventually cast River’s apparently troubled brother Joaquin beside Sc*****logist Nicole Kidman in To Die For, a film that supplied both with important career breaks. Van Sant’s bizarre remake of Psycho, meanwhile, starred Anne Heche, who would reveal two years later that she had a second personality called Celestia – who was not only an extra-terrestrial but also the half-sister of Jesus Christ.
In her autobiography Call Me Crazy, Heche focuses on the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, a Baptist minister, although her own particular brand of crazy is depressingly familiar once you’re acquainted with the background to UFO cults, and their inevitable mish-mash of new and conventional religion, sexual abuse, and apocalyptic prophecy.
In his groundbreaking 1979 book Messengers of Deception, UFO researcher Jacques Vallee proposes that the UFO phenomenon, whatever it is in reality, was seized and exploited by covert agencies as a means to develop and test “control systems” – or “religion”, to give it a more familiar name.
Over a decade later, in his book Revelations, Vallee hits pay dirt when an investigation into the Franck Fontaine abduction leads to “tangible organizations and to beings of flesh and blood within the French military and technological establishment.”
There, a “Mr. D” from the French Ministry of Defense goes on the record to reveal that the entire Fontaine abduction and subsequent failed efforts to develop a religious cult was “an Exercise of General Synthesis” – aka a large-sale covert government mind control op. Mr. D further reveals that only 10 to 15 were in the know, “all at a high enough level to establish what sort of manipulation was justified under the state secrets rule.”
Asked if the experiment had “wider objectives”, Mr. D replies ominously, “If this operation had been completed, the next phase would have been far worse.”
Which brings us all back to the looming presence of MKULTRA and its unofficial refuge in doomsday cults, millennialist religious movements, and – ahem – the world’s greatest mind control device, Scientollywood.
Mr. Vallee is an extraordinarily sincere investigator who is viewed as something of a heretic in the UFO community for his audacious habit of letting his research determine his conclusions, and not the other way around. He has little patience for what’s known as the “Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis” or the nuts-and-bolts spacecraft we’re persistently told ET arrives in, although Steven Spielberg went ahead and characterized him that way anyway, in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Francois Truffaut’s earnest UFO hunter Lacombe was based on Vallee, although they share very little outside of nationality. Spielberg meanwhile has done more to hypnotize the average person into a hopeless condition of “I want to believe” stupefaction than any shadowy intelligence group, assuming there’s a difference.
Apropos of nothing and everything, here’s a crazy video clip from 1978 of Spielberg telling Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger that he swallowed a transistor when he was a kid. It was given to him by his father, he explains, who announced, “Son, this is the future.”
Spielberg also tells them about the voices in his head and proclaims, “Everybody’s home should have TV…” Steven Spielberg’s father was a computer engineer who held 15 patents and whose employment history included stints at both IBM and GE.
But moving along – there are, of course, those inexplicable tragedies that just seem to happen in American every once in awhile. Like the Columbine massacre, which provided Gus Van Sant with the material for one of his most resonant movies, Elephant. As per the well-known tale of killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Elephant follows the activities of two misfits and a killing spree prompted by poor parenting, bullying, and – shades of Milk - closeted homosexuality.
As ever, Van Sant appears to mount an entirely anti-mainstream exercise that simultaneously lacks any depth or spirit of inquiry, especially if you’re inclined to wonder why so much about the events of April 20, 1999 remain unresolved, contradictory, or sealed from public scrutiny.
That will have to wait until next week, but for now, it’s worth pondering what it took to smuggle 95 explosive devices including two propane tanks into Columbine High, as the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office stated in its official report. Elephant, of course, makes no attempt to explain how two kids managed to do that.