Gasp! I know right – it’s only taken me three years to grind the blog back into life. Admittedly, I’ve spent most of those three years screaming into a pillow, faced with so many monumental clusterfucks on so many fronts, I’m fairly sure that if I had carried on blogging, the last post would’ve been a Shining-esque “We’re all fucked” repeated ad infinitum, until they came to take me away. Not to mention that most of the topics I used to post about – World Nut Daily, Ray Comfort, Conservapedia, etc., have become increasingly irrelevant, or have faded into the background noise of the never ending shitshow that our lives have become. But it is satisfying to see that evangelicals like Falwell, Jeffers, Graham, et al are finally letting their true Dominionist, Christian-fascist colours show, by proclaiming Trump to be the God-anointed saviour of us all, because fuck that Jesus hippy.
So why today’s post? What could have possibly irked me enough to go through the whole “please reset your forgotten password / password can’t be the same as previous password” routine and once again vent my jaundiced spleen upon the world? Actually, I’m starting off lightly for now, just dipping my toe back into the murky waters, to see if I can get through a few paragraphs, before the existential dread sets in again. I’m simply going to look at what happens when you combine the rising scourge of flat earthers, with a YouTube “personality.”
Now, I must start off by saying that the only thing I know about Logan Paul is that he was involved in a brouhaha over filming suicide victims in Japan’s Aokigahara. Which already kind of tells me everything I need to know about Logan Paul. Still, hot on the heels of the brilliant “Behind the Curve” documentary and countless YouTubers who do sterling work actually debunking the crazies, Paul went the Asylum route, and made something that vaguely looks like the original, but is magnitudes of order worse. And to spare you, Dear Patient Reader, I spent an hour of my time that I’ll never get back, watching it, so you don’t have to. So without further ado, let’s plumb the depths of… *drumroll*
Ok, to be fair, Paul does call it a movie in the online title, because this is as much a documentary as anything Ray Comfort has ever put out. It’s 90% scripted (badly) and 99% acted (even worse) and no, there isn’t any actual debunking happening (spoiler alert!). So, after a flash montage of what’s coming in the show, we cut to picture of sunrise over Earth’s curve, and the ominous voice over:
“Conspiracy theories. We’ve all heard them; the legend of Bigfoot, the aliens of Roswell, Area 51, Reptilian Overlords, you name it. Everywhere you go, there’s crazy stories being told, but even crazier, people that actually believe them. However, this is not one of those conspiracies.”
Er, dude. Yes it is. It’s exactly one of those conspiracies. But go on.
Zoom in on (I assume) his house. Zoom in on Logan Paul, wearing Dead Serious Face©, who’s about to tell you who he is. He’s apparently a “controversial YouTube star,” “boxer,” “ex-vegan,” and *sigh* “your boyfriend’s worst nightmare.” Because of course, that’s how serious film makers describe themselves. Then we get this gem:
“My whole life I was taught several irrefutable truths: the sky is blue; lemurs are native to South Africa -“
*record scratch noise*
Say what? Given that lemurs are ONLY native to Madagascar (thanks, Wikipedia!), I can’t even joke that he got most of the letters right. No really, it actually worries me. Does he think South Africa is an island? Does he know what lemurs are? Shit like this keeps me awake at night. Seriously, we’re only at 2:20 and I’m already faced with stuff like this? It’s going to be a very long hour.
We’re then treated to a montage of Paul being the most Broski-Do-You-Even-Bro-Bro, which is what I assume his channel is all about. Surprisingly (or possibly not), given the backlash of his forest video (it goes without saying that it seems his entire Japanese trip was every bit as awful as you can imagine) the fake skit he’s filming for this segment, appears to have resulted in the death of a participant. Because dead people are so fucking hilarious. But I digress.
Ah, now comes the Big Plot Point. Remember, this all (badly) scripted so take it whence it comes. Paul gets taken to one side by one of his I-Bro-Do-You-Bro bros, who out of nowhere (because that’s how conversations work… although I will say that from watching Behind the Curve, it does appear to be a tactic used by Flearthers) asks “Do you ever think the Earth is flat? That everything NASA says is a lie.” He even takes Paul to one side, and has his baseball cap on backwards, so you know he’s Dead Fucking Serious.
Ok, let’s skip about 15 minutes of scripted gibberish, which supposedly shows Paul’s conversion to the Flearther cause, and get to the crux of the entire video – Paul trolling the Flat Earth Convention. And, for all his other faults, this is probably where the genius of this film lies. As with any pseudoscience, there’s no form of peer review, no standards, and anybody can push any version of the theory they like. Plus, they’re desperate for any kind of official recognition from Somebody, No Really Anybody With A Modicum of Fame. Remember, the original Flat Earth Society issued Thomas Dolby with a membership card, purely on the strength of the fact his second album was called The Flat Earth. We get clips from speakers at the conference, and Paul chatting to attendees, and just letting the crazy flow. There are a few gems from attendees:
“Gravity is still only a theory and buoyancy and density still hold on.”
“I’m not ashamed to say that Brian Cox, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye aren’t as smart as they think they are.”
“What people call other planets aren’t planets. What we see in the sky are little lights; they’re very close.”
“I need facts. I can think for myself; I don’t need to be told what to think. If NASA would lie about the globe and the Moon landings, what else is everyone lying about”
That last one is a bit sad, as it’s coming from a kid in her tweens… so maybe the future isn’t entirely in safe hands. Again, this nothing you haven’t seen if you’ve already watched Behind the Curve, and they do it much better. We do meet Mike Hughes – the guy who blasted off in his own rocket, to prove the earth is flat – but the only interaction with him is literally Paul wanting to palm some his “Maverick” “merch” off on him. Not one question about “So what did you see while you were up there?” Then again, I’m guessing Paul doesn’t know the full story behind Hughes.
He does have a sit down with conference organiser, Robbie Davidson, and whether by luck or an actually good interviewing skill, manages to extract a telling comment from Davidson:
Paul: What, in your opinion, is the most damning piece of scientific evidence [for a flat Earth]?
Davidson: When you’re taught that you just came from nothing, because the scientific narrative is nothing exploded and created everything, and they think we’re crazy. They want to believe nothing created all of this. When you start looking into the fact that everything in the sky was put in place for us, there’s value; maybe there’s something out there that’s watching over us.”
Ok, ignoring the fact that nothing of what Davidson said constitutes scientific evidence, what he did say reflects the mindset of every conspiracy theorist out there, especially (from my own experience) creationists and anti-vaxxers. It’s the indulgent need to feel special, to be (in this case literally) the centre of the universe, to have the Arcane Knowledge that nobody else has. Just like every quack medicine and pseudoscientific belief, it has absolutely nothing to do with facts or reality, and everything to do with them wanting to feel special. Because, apparently, being a sentient lump of carbon isn’t special enough. (Ah, and we’re in familiar rant territory again. It’s good be back!)
For the rest, he speaks at the conference about how he’s coming out of the closet (crowd goes wild), more scripted stuff, included Hot Flat Earth Girl Falls For Paul’s Rugged Flat Earth Believing Looks, before we get the final PLOT TWIST!! Backwards Baseball Cap Bro reveals that he was only joking when he asked if Paul thought the Earth was flat. Shock! Horror! Paul has breakdown, realises the earth is round, breaks Hot Flat Earth Girl’s heart, and runs around Denver (or at least garage forecourt) naked. I don’t know why the last bit happened, it must be a Bro thing.
So… yeah. it’s not great. But then I’m a crotchety, jaundiced fift-mumble-mumble-year old. This might be the perfect way for younger people and Paul’s YouTube followers to see just how dumb the whole flat earth thing is. That said, it could have worked far better if he’d just played the whole thing straight from the start. Ignore the whole scripted rubbish and just said, “Guys, I’m going to the Flat Earth Convention, as a flat earther and let’s see what happens.” And then like with Behind the Curve, he could’ve just sat back and let the crazy flow. As I mentioned above, there are definitely moments when he gets it, but it gets lost in his inability to follow through and the general noise of YouTube Bro Makes Movie for Bros.
Was it an hour wasted? Yeah, pretty much. 58 minutes just for the golden quote from Davidson above is heavy going. And I won’t be rushing out to watch any more Logan Paul stuff.
Now, dare we hope it won’t take me another 3 years to get typing again?