The strangeness of Alex Jones

Recently John Oliver had this fantastic bit on right wing conspiracy nut Alex Jones.

Jones is a fascinating character not because of his lunacy but because his lunacy draws people in. Here’s Jones interviewing director David Lynch.

I mean, Lynch isn’t an idiot. He must realise Jones is at best, a xenophobic lunatic, at worst a far-right conspiracy theorist that helps neo-fascists like Donald Trump? And make no doubt about it, Jones is way, way, way out there but back in the early days of the internet Jones was just a conspiracy theorist who attracted the attention of Jon Ronson for his 2000 series, Secret Rulers of the World.

For most of us in the UK this was our first look at Jones and hey, he was someone to point and laugh at because there was no way a nut like Jones could get anywhere near influencing power?

Fuck.

Jones big break was 911. He was one of those who carved himself a niche after that day (and there’s a lot of folk who tried) and used the attacks to vindicate not only his strangeness, but help build up his business which as Oliver points out in his video, is pretty substantive and worth millions to him.

Jones mined the early days of the internet when people would come online and look at weird stuff. UFO, JFK stuff, but also Jones’s libertarianism cut across right and left, yet it is perfectly clear what Jones is; a far right demagogue who has undue, undemocratic influence upon the American president. It’s only right Jones should be scrutinised because people like him were the vanguard of the alt-right, and indeed, all the online extremists from all political persuasions. He’s a danger to democracy and I find it extraordinary that people like Lynch and other somewhat sensible seeming people give him the time of day.

Don’t share anything from Jones. Don’t give him the clicks. Most of all don’t believe that he’s actually Bill Hicks!

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Jon Ronson’s interview with Adam Curtis is essential reading

I consider Jon Ronson one of the finest journalists of the last two decades and Adam Curtis to be our best, and most original documentarians. Reading an interview between the pair then is one of the most fascinating things I’ve read in what has been a great year for current affairs for some good, but mainly awful reasons.

With the recession and austerity now entering it’s seventh year for most of us, reading Curtis and Ronson discuss democracy, and the way our societies have been reshaped, not to mention how debate on all sides of the political spectrum has turned into echo chambers thanks partly to social media and Twitter especially.

With the new Adam Curtis film/documentary, Bitter Lake, due to be available on the BBC’s iPlayer only from the 25th January, this is a taster for that and a reminder that we need voices like Curtis and Ronson in our media as there’s not a lot of intelligent thought in journalism left these days.