Note: This article is contained in our third print edition, “Conspiracy: Psyops & Demons“.

Cover art by Lex Villena

Note: This article is contained in our third print edition, “Conspiracy: Psyops & Demons“.

Cover art by Lex Villena

How Deep State intelligence Reinforces Archetypes and Manipulates Culture via Mass Media, Spectacular Crime & Hollywood
The weeks leading up to the release of Todd Phillips’s 2019 film Joker were awash with hysterical corporate media warnings about insane killers shooting up theaters at screenings. But this hysteria was not a spontaneous reflex of the media hive mind: it originated with a memo produced by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, warning of “incel extremists” attempting to replicate a 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in which a young man dressed as the Joker armed with tear gas grenades and multiple firearms reportedly killed twelve people and injured 58 others at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
 
The terrorist incel, of course, is today a major obsession of the US security state and its proxies on the Left. But it’s only the latest incarnation of an archetype woven deep into the fabric of modern American culture. The desire for fame (or infamy) was already linked to spectacular violence in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver. Premiering at Cannes in 1976, Taxi Driver immediately generated controversy for its sexualization of thirteen-year-old Jodie Foster, on the one hand, and fears of the prospect of inspiring Travis Bickle copycats, or what screenwriter Paul Schrader called “Taxi Driver kids,” on the other. Five years after the film was released, these fears materialized in the figure of John Hinckley, Jr., who shot Ronald Reagan in the chest on March 30, 1981. Hinckley sent Schrader a series of letters before the assassination attempt, which Schrader instructed his secretary to burn in order to conceal them from the FBI. In a successful insanity defense, Hinckley’s lawyers argued that their client’s obsession with the film and his identification with Bickle had spawned an infatuation with Foster whom he wanted to impress by killing the President. 
 
Three months earlier, on December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman had murdered John Lennon outside of the Dakota building in New York, where Lennon was living with Yoko Ono and their young son, Sean. Chapman was also supposedly motivated by a desire for fame arising from a deranged relationship to pop culture and claimed to be getting subliminal messages from films. 
 
Only six months after Hinckley’s trial, Scorsese directed The King of Comedy, a film about a fame-obsessed loser named Rupert Pupkin, again played by Robert De Niro, who had played Bickle in Taxi Driver. This time his character kidnaps his late-night talk show host idol in order to take over the show for a night and launch his own comedy career. 
 
These three films — Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, and Joker — constitute a kind of esoteric trilogy with continuities in themes and personnel. Scorsese himself was initially attached to Joker as a producer and reportedly considered directing it. Phillips’s Joker pays conspicuous homage to Taxi Driver: the movie can be described as a reworking of The King of Comedy, and pointedly casts Robert De Niro again, now as the late-night comedy host that Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) idolizes and eventually murders on live TV.
 
The central figure in all three films is an alienated loner consigned to the fringes of society. The outsider has been a central figure in American culture since at least the 1950s, but not until Taxi Driver was this figure associated with spectacular crime, and specifically assassination attempts on public figures motivated by a desire for fame or public attention. 
 
Schrader’s screenplay for Taxi Driver was partly based on a real fame-seeking criminal outsider, Arthur Bremer, who had attempted to assassinate Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace in 1972. In his diary, Bremer wrote that he was inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) to the point of identifying with the psychopathic protagonist Alex. 
 
What links all these productions together is a feedback loop between mass media and spectacular violence of which Hollywood and its deep state partners are very much aware. Warner Bros (which also distributed Joker) eventually pulled A Clockwork Orange from theaters in the UK at Kubrick’s request following a series of brutal copycat crimes. Bremer, inspired by the film, becomes an inspiration for Taxi Driver, which, as predicted, inspired further copycats. The phenomenon represented by these copycats in turn became the inspiration for The King of Comedy, directed by the same man who directed Taxi Driver. Four decades later Scorsese became attached to a project explicitly modeled on the two earlier films, and immediately predicted to incite mass shootings.
 
One key to this riddle is the Joker character itself. Ever since Cesar Romero’s depiction of the character in the campy Batman TV series in the 1960s, and even more strongly since Jack Nicholson’s menacing portrayal in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, the Joker is the dominant form that the archetype of the trickster has taken in American culture. Heath Ledger’s tour de force performance in The Dark Knight (2008) — which Ledger partially modeled on the Malcolm McDowell character in A Clockwork Orange — then brought the character to a new level.
 
Ledger’s Joker distilled the archetype down to what could be called, in neo-Jungian terms, the dark self, an inverted, or shadow image, of God. From a Christian perspective, this version of the trickster is the devil, and the Joker of the Dark Knight is heavily equated with the devil: notice, for example, the devil images on the joker playing cards in the film. Contra Baudelaire and Bryan Singer, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was not convincing the world that he doesn’t exist but convincing the world that he’s God. It is this inversive union of God and the devil, and its implicit divinization through psychotic violence, that forms the heart of the contemporary instantiation of the trickster archetype as represented by Ledger’s and Phoenix’s Jokers.

Joker (2019)

Joker (2019)

The dark metaphysical significance of the Joker is implied through the name Arkham Asylum, where the Joker is a frequent patient. Arkham is named for a fictional town in the cosmic horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft, thereby connecting the institution with entities beyond time and space whose existence drives humans insane. The final scene of Joker depicts Arthur embracing empowerment through psychosis while being held at Arkham. 
 
A parallel connection is evident in Alan Moore’s 1988 comic The Killing Joke, the Urtext for the Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix Jokers. Moore has essentially disowned the comic, due to his growing contempt for superhero storytelling, but it remains significant for its treatment of the Joker’s backstory and motives. Moore complicated the character by an emphasis on reality-confusion; in his other work, he frequently glorifies the occult power of the imagination to magically reshape reality in stories influenced by HP Lovecraft and Aleister Crowley.
 
In every iteration of the character, the Joker’s superpower is insanity. Moore’s work imagines him as a failed comic who can’t cope with the grinding demands and bitter disappointments of normal life. By surrendering to insanity, he attains liberation from the pain and misery of being a loser. The Dark Knight includes a running joke about how the Joker got his scars: throughout the film, the character offers multiple, conflicting versions of the story. The truth doesn’t matter: the Joker dissociates from trauma through psychosis, and in the process turns into a kind of god.
 
This same process of deification through dissociation and psychosis is dramatized in a different way in Joker. After hearing the Jackson C. Frank song “My Name is Carnival,” Arthur tells his social worker that he identifies with the carnival. As James Frazer makes clear, the carnival, as an embodied figure, represented death in the folk culture of Old Europe. Before the film’s climax, after Arthur kills his mother, he paints his face white to symbolize his transformation: he has become death incarnate. At the end of the film, the mob literally resurrects him, an obvious inversion of the resurrection of Christ. Arthur has died to his humanity, embraced his psychosis, and is now reborn as the dark self, a devilish trickster embodying death.
 
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Phillips’s Joker repeatedly puns on the words “clown” and “joker” in the context of characterizing the Joker as everyman. We are now a society of alienated, victimized misfits. If we embrace our trauma and dissociate into a liberating psychosis, the film suggests, we too will become gods and turn the world upside down.

Another key theme in this archetypal complex is deception and trickery, qualities strongly associated with both the craft of acting and with espionage and intelligence. Ben Affleck — ex-husband of CIA shill Jennifer Garner, and director of Argo, a film about intelligence operatives posing as filmmakers — recently hinted that Hollywood is crawling with CIA agents. A recent “recruitment” ad posted to YouTube by the Army’s 4th PSYOP Group deploys the image of the clown, to the extent of including a shot of a clown applying face paint in a mirror that is almost identical to the shot that opens Joker in order to promote the message that “All the World’s a Stage” and that the psychological warfare specialists at Ft. Bragg are running the show.
 
Intersections between deep state intelligence operations and the entertainment industry are heavily implicated in the Joker Cycle. The King of Comedy was the first American production by Arnon Milchan, an admitted Mossad agent, who has also hinted that many other big-time Hollywood players are clandestine operatives. Milchan’s daughter Alexandra’s first major production effort was a film called Chapter 27, about Mark David Chapman, the man convicted of murdering John Lennon. Chapman is portrayed by Jared Leto, who has also played the Joker (Suicide Squad) and who has some intriguing connections to intelligence himself. Leto’s friend and high school teacher was a CIA whistleblower, and Leto now lives in a former secret Air Force film studio in Laurel Canyon, where the Sixties counterculture was launched by the children of military intelligence personnel.
 
Chapter 27 refers to the unwritten final chapter of The Catcher in the Rye, the novel that Chapman was obsessed with and which he was reading on the steps of the Dakota building when police arrived to arrest him. The book was also discovered by police in the hotel room of John Hinckley Jr., after he shot Reagan. Holden Caulfield, the novel’s protagonist whom Chapman would claim to embody, is the modern prototype of the outsider, the precursor to Travis Bickle and Arthur Fleck, that is, the proto-incel and the incel. The Caulfield-Joker lineage of anti-social (sometimes outright psychopathic) protagonists can be extended to include Tyler Durden, Patrick Bateman, and many other figures beloved by very-online young men with varying degrees of irony and sincerity. 
 
J.D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye, was a member of the Ritchie Boys, a celebrated counterintelligence unit during World War II. This fact, combined with the novel’s connection to multiple spectacular crimes involving deranged outsider types, inspired the theory that it was employed in a “neuro-linguistic programming” operation to produce “Manchurian candidates.” This theory is famously dramatized in Richard Donner’s Conspiracy Theory (1997), which, like Chapter 27, is a self-conscious insertion into the feedback loop. In the film, Mel Gibson is a taxi driver who publishes a small conspiracy newsletter. Little does he know that he’s a victim of the CIA’s MKUltra program, a brainwashed sleeper agent with a constant compulsion to purchase copies of The Catcher in the Rye
 
There are also other conspiracy angles to the cases of Hinckley and Chapman. Hinckley’s family was acquainted with the family of Reagan’s vice president, former CIA director George H. W. Bush. Hinckley’s brother Scott was even scheduled to have dinner at the home of Neil Bush the evening after the assassination attempt. John Hinckley, Sr. and Bush were both oil men and both families were at one point based in Midland, Texas. The Hinckleys also donated money to multiple Bush family political campaigns. 
 
Hinckley, Sr. was heavily involved with World Vision International, an evangelical missionary organization that operated as a CIA front in Southeast Asia. At one point Mark David Chapman worked for World Vision, a job he acquired through his longtime employment with the YMCA. The YMCA — which, according to Philip Agee and other former CIA case officers, was itself used as a front for foreign spying operations — sent Chapman all over the world, including to Beirut, a hotspot for clandestine operations where he just happened to be at the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war. The Chapman rabbit hole runs deep, but perhaps the most explosive detail is the fact that the Dakota doorman on the night that Chapman shot Lennon was a man named Jose Perdomo, first identified in 1987 as an “anti-Castro Cuban.” A contemporary photo of Perdomo confirms that he is almost certainly the same Jose Perdomo who recruited most of the members of the Operation 40 hit squad, a CIA assassination team with connections to the Kennedy assassination. 
 
According to the article that first identified Perdomo in 1987, he and Chapman discussed the Kennedy assassination and the Bay of Pigs hours before Chapman pulled the trigger. One reason that these astonishing “coincidences” have largely escaped public notice is that movies like Taxi Driver created a “profile” of the lone nut assassin as a frustrated, alienated, fame-seeking outsider to compensate for the obvious lack of motive, and thereby explain these crimes to the public without bringing up details like Hinckley’s connection to the vice president. This profile was missing with regard to Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, and others. But now, in the last phase of the Age of Assassinations, psychology could trump conspiracy, and the same movies used to foist that profile on the public could be cited as motivating factors in their crimes.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver (1976)

Conspiracy Theory was the first film to definitively link the profiles of the spectacular violence-prone proto-incel and the conspiracy theorist, at the same time suggesting that this hybridized personality type is a patsy. Donner’s film also confirmed in the popular imagination the link between MKUltra and the deranged outsider/lone nut assassin. Until his release in 2016, Hinckley was confined to St. Elizabeths Hospital, a Washington DC mental institution that was a site of psychedelic mind control experiments even before the days of MKUltra. What these mind control and conspiracy angles suggest is that the feedback loop — and indeed the essence of what we call “culture” — isn’t a spontaneous, organic product of market forces and the collective psyche, but a synthetic pseudo-reality concocted to manage and manipulate consciousness on a mass scale.

One of the main precursors to the MKUltra program were the Macy Conferences, held in New York between 1941 and 1960, which brought together many of the leading figures in neuroscience, neuropharmacology, biology, as well as the social sciences. The keynote of the Macy Conferences was cybernetics, or the study of control mechanisms within complex processes. This cybernetic conception of the human as an elaborate computer of sorts functioned as a working hypothesis for many MKUltra doctors and scientists, apart from the overlaps in the cast of characters. The central premise of cybernetic theory is that systems are controlled through feedback loops. The cyberneticists, however, were not just interested in mechanical and biological systems; they were interested in communication systems as well. 
 
Knowledge of techniques of mass perception control and manipulation, including forms of audio-visual stimulation that were used in MKUltra experiments, constitute what we call ‘the Method’. Films connected to the Joker Cycle, especially Chapter 27, reveal the Method by showing how the transformation of the consciousness of the protagonists reflects the desired transformation of the viewer’s own consciousness. The Method is revealed to the viewer through the viewer’s identification with the protagonist, and this identification involves a partial breakdown of the barrier between fiction and reality. These films depict traumatized, alienated misfits who drift into a state of dissociation, which is also a state of maximum suggestibility. This is precisely what post-MKUltra pop culture has been doing at low intensities on a mass scale: traumatizing the population through saturation with transgressive sex and ultraviolence, presented through the prism of escapist fantasies triggering dissociation. The manipulation of these fantasies for maximum suggestive effect is then used to mass re-engineer the psyche in a scaled-up version of MKUltra-style trauma-based mind control.
 
While it might seem strange that the cultural engineers would want to reveal the Method, the Revelation of the Method is actually part of the Method. Fundamentally it involves the establishment of a feedback loop between the viewer and the fictional world, in which precise alterations of the fictional world trigger equivalent alterations in the viewer’s consciousness. When all the world’s a stage, the stage managers control reality. 
 
All this demands talented artists and image makers adept at capturing the consciousness of the viewer through symbols and stories. In the case of the Joker Cycle, the Method is directed primarily at the growing mass of incels who have been incubated by the MK-Culture. But the Joker Cycle is also aimed at the wider society, since, as the clown pun in Joker indicates, the incel is both cultural scapegoat and symbol of everyman. Films like The Batman (2022) push one side of the psyop in the form of woke-programming: incels are demonized through a narrative arc in which Batman fights dangerous online conspiracy-theorizing misfits and empowers heroic AOC-type politicians. Meanwhile movies like Joker push the other side: now the cultural engineers try to convince the disempowered misfits — isolated and disempowered through elite-managed psyops like the sexual revolution — to dissociate from traumas and embrace their most destructive impulses. In this way they will discover their power, and the society that reviles them will fear them. The more powerless people are, the more superpowered their fantasies will be. The rise of the superhero movie compensates for and correlates directly with mass disempowerment — psychological, cultural, political.
 
Most of the audience drifts passively into the compensatory, manufactured fantasy world, where they receive the latest updates in media-based programming (conditioning towards woke identity and globalist politics, for example). But for a smaller number MK-Culture becomes fanatical. And it is among this crowd that the latest batch of spectacular criminals emerges in the form of the assassin, the mass shooter, or the serial killer. Sometimes there is evidence these people have received a “push” (the recent Buffalo shooter, for example, was in regular contact with a “retired” FBI agent). But the power of late MK-Culture is indicated by how difficult it is to tell whether people were mind-controlled by the clandestine services, or whether (as in the case of Bobby Crimo, the Chicago 4th of July shooter) they mind-controlled themselves by deliberate exposure to the most toxic elements of a popular culture built on a framework of trauma-based mind control. 
 
Arthur Fleck’s anti-hero journey, like that of Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy, is a wish-fulfillment fantasy for incel types and for anyone else whose sense of self is built on victimhood. His whole life is a tale of victimization, of trauma and powerlessness and more trauma. The turning point comes when he greases three Wall Street bullies who are menacing a woman in a subway and target him. The scene is carefully calculated to generate sympathy for the killer, and where it does highlight a ruthless, vengeful streak in Arthur, it only serves to vindicate this quality for the audience. 
 
Arthur’s action speaks to the ressentiment welling deep within the disempowered masses of a heartless, oligarchic society, inspiring an Occupy Wall Street-like movement in which the protesters wear clown masks. Here, again, is Revelation of the Method. The ressentiment dwelling in the target audience of this film wants to believe that the filmmakers are on their side, that they could feel the same degree of seething contempt for “the whole system.” In reality, and notwithstanding certain admirable sentiments in the filmmakers, the forces behind Joker and all the movies in the Joker Cycle are fundamentally hostile toward the masses whom they, like Thomas Wayne, indeed regard as inconsequential clowns.
 
To realize their globalist, transhumanist dreams, the establishment needs to finish tearing down what one talented operative once called “the ancient Western code.” Joker, building on a decades-long cycle of psyops, is part of a strategy of weaponizing incel-style social alienation to tear down the remnants of the old order. The esoteric message behind the mass movement subplot which emerges at the end of Joker is that he who controls the clown controls the crowd, and he who controls the crowd controls the future.

Brett Carollo & Thomas Millary are the hosts of Psyop Cinema. They can be found on psyop-cinema.com.

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