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Response to Midnight Writer (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 24, 2021, 03:36 PM

2. Here is some background

Are Birds Actually Government-Issued Drones? So Says a New Conspiracy Theory Making Waves (and Money)

The CIA assassinated John F. Kennedy after he refused to kill and replace billions of birds with drones. The U.S. government is sequestering a team of Boeing engineers in Area 51 for a secret military mission. Our tax dollars have been funneled into building the “Turkey X500,” a robot used to hunt large birds.

Combine all these conspiracies and you get Birds Aren’t Real, a nearly two-year-old movement that claims the CIA took out 12 billion feathered fugitives because directors within the organization were “annoyed that birds had been dropping fecal matter on their car windows.” The targets were eradicated between 1959 and 1971 with specially altered B-52 bombers stocked with poison. They were then supplanted with avian-like robots that could be used to surveil Americans.

Sounds extreme but also somewhat fitting, given the landscape of today's social discourse. By surfacing murky bits of history and the ubiquity of Aves, Birds Aren’t Real feeds into this era of post-truth politics. The campaign relies on internet-fueled guerilla marketing to spread its message, manifesting through real-world posters and Photoshopped propaganda tagged with the “Birds Aren’t Real” slogan.

For much of its devoted fanbase, Birds Aren’t Real is a respite from America’s political divide—a joke so preposterous both conservatives and liberals can laugh at it. But for a few followers, this movement is no more unbelievable than QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy theory turned marketing ploy that holds that someone with high-level government clearance is planting coded tips in the news. Therein lies the genius of Birds Aren’t Real: It’s a digital breadcrumb trail that leads to a website that leads to a shop full of ready-to-buy merchandise.

The creative muscle behind the avian-inspired conspiracy (and thinly disguised marketing scheme) is 20-year-old Peter McIndoe, an English and philosophy major at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. McIndoe first went live with Birds Aren’t Real in January 2017 at his city’s Women’s March. A video from the event shows McIndoe with a crudely drawn sign, heckling protesters with lines like, “Birds are a myth; they’re an illusion; they’re a lie. Wake up America! Wake up!” The idea of selling Birds Aren’t Real goods, he says, came after the stunt gained traction over Instagram.

McIndoe didn’t break character once during a 30-minute-long phone interview with Audubon. He defended the movement’s legitimacy, mainly by proselytizing about what Birds Aren’t Real isn’t. “The thought that this could be used to make a satire of a dark and tense time in American culture—I find those things to be baloney,” McIndoe says.

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