Posts Tagged ‘conspiracy’

By John Ruberry

After a long day at work earlier this month I clicked on the “Surprise Me” feature on Netflix. What popped up was Mike Myers’ new vehicle, The Pentaverate.

“Well,” I said to myself, “this might be pretty good.” 

In fact, The Pentaverate doesn’t even measure up to “pretty bad.” The six episode limited series is one of the worst shows I’ve suffered through. Oh, somehow I managed to view a couple episodes of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. I know about awful.

Warning: There are numerous spoilers and some rather disgusting things that I will mention in my review of this Netflix series.

The origin of The Pentaverate dates back to a throwaway line from Myers’ second film, So I Married an Axe Murderer, where the father of Myers’ lead character, also played by Myers, claims that a secret society, the Pentaverate, a five-man cabal, which at one time included Colonel Sanders as a member, rules the world. In this series narrator Jeremy Irons tells us, the original members of the Pentaverate discovered in 1347, contrary to the belief of the Catholic Church, it was fleas that spread the bubonic plague. 

As the first episode begins, the newest member of the group of five, Dr. Hobart Clark (Keegan-Michael Key), a scientist, is accepted into the Pentaverate after he is kidnapped. Apparently, he is the first non-white fellow of the all-male group, replacing a member who mysteriously died. The other members are played by Myers. Lord Lordington, an elderly Englishman, Bruce Baldwin, an Australian media mogul, who of course is based on Rupert Murdoch, Shep Gordon, a manager of various rock acts, a real person who is the subject of a documentary directed by Myers, and Mishu Ivanov, a Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin crony.

Warning! Not-safe-for-work language in the trailer.

But Myers isn’t done with his roles. The lead character of The Pentaverate is Ken Scarborough, a television reporter who wears plaid sportscoats; he is a quirky throwback from the 1970s who does man-on-the-street interviews of other oddballs, while overshadowing them. Scarborough works for, wait for it, Toronto-based CACA news. Yep, caca. 

The other four Pentaverate members manufacture a story that Dr. Clark, who was invited into the secret society because they believe he can reverse climate change, is dead. Clark’s phony passing occurs while attempting to mimic an internet video fad–kissing your own anus. Clark’s room at Pentaverate headquarters is guarded by a sasquatch, who immediately defecates outside the scientist’s door. 

In addition to a Shrek cameo, Myers plays two other characters, internet personality Rex Smith, a stand-in for Alex Jones, and Anthony Lansdowne, a conspiracy theorist from New Hampshire. 

Besides being an assault on good taste, The Pentaverate is an attack on right-wingers, with the implied message that all conservatives are conspiracy whackos like Lansdowne. He is a believer, or has been a believer, in QAnon, Pizzagate, and the Illuminati. His last words as he falls to his death is, “But what about her emails?” 

Lansdowne, in his bumper-sticker laden van, which not surprisingly has a malfunctioning portable toilet, drives Scarborough and his pre-woke Doctor Who-like young female companion, Reilly Clayton (Lydia West) to New York City, which looks nothing like today’s NYC, but more like your standard Doctor Who “future metropolis.” Scarborough, recently fired by CACA, is convinced by Clayton and Lansdowne to infiltrate Pentaverate headquarters, and he does so after a painful penis tug initiation. 

Clark, following an intimate evening with the Pentaverate’s executive assistant Patty Davis (Debi Mazar) in the Moon Room studio–did the Pentaverate fake the moon landings?–suddenly dies, this time for real. He is promptly replaced by casino billionaire Skip Cho (Ken Jeong). Oh, I have never thought Jeong was funny. Jeong recently showed his true political colors after childishly storming off the set of The Masked Singer after Rudy Giuliani was revealed as a contestant.

Myers seemingly hasn’t emotionally moved on from being an 11-year-old. Flatulence jokes are among the things that ruined his cinema take on Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, a children’s film, by the way. Scatological so-called humor also undermined another Myers movie bomb, The Love Guru

Outside of Myers’ fading fame, why did Netflix greenlight this debacle? Could it be that woke Netflix executives fell in love with The Pentaverate’s snide attacks on conservatives, who they probably believe are personified by Smith and Lansdowne? I have liberal friends. Really, I do. And many of them insist that I take marching orders from Alex Jones.

Here’s a tip for Netflix and Myers: the first rule of comedy is that comedies need to be funny.

Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. Its stock value plummeted 35-percent last month. Yes, when you go woke you go broke. And I can’t think of a single Netflix dramatic series that is aimed at conservatives. Longmire was the closest show I can think of, but production of it ended in 2017, and Longmire was originally an A&E offering. And as I wrote in last week’s review of Ozark, that otherwise quite enjoyable show contorted itself to find ways to attack Republicans.

Over 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2020. That’s a lot of viewers, Netflix. We don’t live in vans with clogged toilets. We own televisions. 

Cloying use of easter eggs, that is, references to other works that do nothing to advance the story or add laughs–assuming of course there is even one laugh in The Pentaverate–is also another problem here. Winks to other Myers’ works, along with yet another tired replay of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as Game of Thrones, are simply annoying. Rob Lowe, a veteran of several Myers movies, makes an unnecessary appearance.

Myers’ acting, outside of his sympathetic portrayal of Scarborough, is subpar. In his review of The Cat in the Hat, Roger Ebert noticed that at times Myers sounded a bit like his Linda Richman “Coffee Talk” character from SNL. The use of convincing accents is supposed to be one of Myers’ strengths, but his Lansdowne character’s accent, rather than sounding like what you’ll hear from a rustic New Englander, varies from a Canadian to a New Yorker style of speech–that is, when Lansdowne isn’t coming across like Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World.

Oh, when there is a crack within the five members of the Pentaverate, who do you think is behind it? Why of course! It’s the casino billionaire and the Murdoch stand-in. 

I hated The Pentaverate. Hated, hated, hated. If you have any sense of taste or decency, you will hate it too. 

You have been warned. 

Oh, if you think I am just a grumpy old man with a minority opinion on this actual sh*t show, as of May 15, the average critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is just 20 percent. Only once in the last week have I noticed The Pentaverate ranking as a top-ten most viewed program on Netflix. And based on the CGI and the A-List (to some people) cast, I imagine Netflix wasted a lot of money on this fiasco.

The Pentaverate is rated TV-MA for full frontal (possibly with use of prosthetics) nudity, animals engaged in sex, violence, suicide, adult situations, foul language, and scatological references. Well, at least no one smokes in it. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

People never cease to amaze me. I am used to reading Chinese, North Korean and Russian propaganda. It’s comical to read, but sad when you think that 20% of the world’s population has to read this garbage due to censorship.

So imagine my frustration when a friend sent me this:

And I’m pouring myself a glass of plentiful water being like

How are you supposed to respond to these things? It’s not the first time, and over the years, I’ve tried various strategies. The three I’ve settled on I like to call Truth, Ridicule and Instigation.

Truth

You can always fight lies with truth. A while back I was trying to sort through the hype about the HPV Vaccine. My doctor at work said it was fine, but I had heard stories about it acting as a contraceptive. So I dove in, reading an awful lot of technical papers. Turns out, the one study that said the vaccine was a contraceptive was poorly done, and every Catholic source I found said the vaccine is fine, although also recommending it not be mandated.

Ridicule

Watch Baghdad Bob in action at about the 7 minute mark!

The invasion of Iraq exposed many Americans to the Iraqi Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, or more commonly known as Baghdad Bob. During the invasion, we were inundated with interviews where Baghdad Bob would deny claims that any American forces had entered Iraq or Baghdad, with such memorable quotes as “They’re coming to surrender or be burned in their tanks.” and “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!” Americans, in typical American fashion, were not impressed, and soon al-Sahaaf was featured on countless memes, YouTube videos and even had a website devoted to him.

From http://www.holtorf.com

Instigation

Instead of fighting the allegation, you force it one level deeper. When someone asked me whether 5G caused COVID-19, I told them “Only the Huawei 5G. That’s why we have to build 5G from Verizon.” Or when someone claims that climate change is a government conspiracy, I tell them “It’s worse than that. Ever since the U.S. captured the Nazi weather machine in Svalbard, our scientists have been making all sorts of dangerous changes!”

A good instigation has a kernel of truth that is easy to find on the Internet. In the 5G case, its the push by the U.S. to build their own 5G infrastructure. In the climate case, its the (true) fact that the Nazi’s had a weather outpost on Svalbard that was one of the last places to surrender during the war. Heck, the Nazis even had a weather station in Canada! Maybe the Inuits were working with the Nazis to overthrow the Canadian government…nah, couldn’t be true, could it?

You can easily do your own instigation, and you should! The best format is:

  • Hyperbole – Actor – Kernel of Truth – Outright Lie –

My favorites are:

Hypberole:
It’s worse than you know…
I have insider information…
A study that was covered up said…
I found this site on the Dark Web that said…

Actors:
The radical left
The vast right-wing conspiracy
The underground Communist movement
Russian spies
Vatican II
The Nazis
The Illuminati

Truth and Lies are easy, a bit of Googling and you’ll learn some interesting history. Occasionally, places like the Onion help you out, like when they reveal that government vaccine trackers malfunctioned.

Instigation seems cruel, but the more I used it, it made me realize two things. First, when you learn about history, you realize that governments are made of people that are flawed. Conspiracy theorists will connect a few dots of information to come up with some wild accusation, while the reality is a lot more mundane. I tell people that the golden rule for government conspiracy is “Never attribute to government conspiracy what is better left to incompetence, greed or lust for power.

Applying that to the current status of Michigan’s COVID-19 shutdown is perfect. The current Governor is a jerk. She’s using the crisis to push her own agenda, beat down on people she doesn’t like, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she profits from it in some way. But is she part of a bigger conspiracy? Doubtful. You’d be giving her too much credit by saying that.

The other thing I realized is that we’re all sucked into conspiracy. Plenty of people reading this will think they are somehow too smart to be fooled by conspiracy. To that I say, you’re not. Lots of people believed Bernie Sanders and/or Donald Trump was being funded by the Russians. People doubted whether Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen, despite the FBI having investigated the matter. People still believe there are UFOs at Area 51.

On a small scale though, we all fall victim to this. How many people think drinking 8 glasses of water a day is recommended? Or that flossing your teeth is a good thing? Despite living in the information age, we’re terrible at actually challenging our beliefs. We could read about vaccines and flossing, sift through campaign finance records, and learn about unique history…or we could share social media posts that appeal to our emotions instead of reason.

Humans are unique for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest is our ability to reason and logically question the world around us. Social media makes it too easy to be lazy, put people in stereotyped boxes, and accept old-wives tales as truth. We could all do better.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.