Does “The Shining” reveal that the Apollo moon landings were faked?

Jack-Nicholson-O-Iluminado

Apparently there’s much more to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining than we all realised. It’s believed that the film contains a range of clues revealing that the Apollo moon landings were faked. Bonkers, right? Or might the conspiracy theorists be onto something?

In my blog “Were the Apollo moon landings faked?” I assessed the footage of the original 1960s missions to the moon. Conspiracy theorists believe that this footage was shot on a film set, not the actual moon, with claims about suspicious shadows, missing stars and fluttering flags commonly cited as evidence.

Those who believe that the moon landings were a hoax think that NASA — desperate to beat Russia in the Space Race — contacted director Stanley Kubrick and asked him to film the scenes. Why do people believe that Kubrick was responsible? Because he allegedly littered his 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining with symbolism and clues that the moon landings were faked. Burdened by his deception, The Shining was Kubrick’s way of confessing his role in the monumental NASA conspiracy.

It’s said that Kubrick filmed the fake moon landing while he was working on his sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey. In that film, he used a special effects technique known as Front Screen Projection to create backgrounds in a scene, and some people believe they can see evidence of this technique in the moon landing footage. (Have a read of my previous blog for my thoughts on the various ‘clues’ in the footage.)

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Haunting the set – the ‘Three Men and a Baby’ ghost

Did you know that the ghost of a little boy makes a brief appearance in Disney’s popular 80s comedy Three Men and a Baby? Apparently he used to live in the apartment where they filmed, and committed suicide with a shotgun…

Notice anything strange about the scene above? As Ted Danson and his character’s mother enter the room where the film’s eponymous baby is sleeping, a black silhouette resembling a shotgun is seen in the window in the background. After the mother cradles the baby and they start out of the room, the figure of a young boy appears in the same window, looking out from behind the curtains.

Three-Men-and-a-Baby Gun

This urban legend rose to fame after Three Men and a Baby was released on video, shortly before the release of the sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, in 1990. The story goes that the mysterious figure is the ghost of a young boy who committed suicide in the apartment where they were shooting. The shotgun seen in the window immediately before his appearance is the one he killed himself with.

All kinds of stories sprang up following the dead boy’s alleged appearance in the movie. These included claims that the boy’s parents, who had since moved out of the apartment, were threatening to sue Disney if they didn’t remove the scene.

The truth?

Disney’s Touchstone Pictures division, who released the movie, soon revealed the truth. It wasn’t the ghost of a dead boy at all. It was a cardboard cut-out of Ted Danson.

But how do they figure that? It looks like a little boy – and nothing like Ted Danson! Doesn’t it? Take a look at this picture, taken from a different scene in the movie…

cardboard

The cardboard cut-out was produced as a part of a storyline that ended up being cut, but the cut-out still makes an appearance in the above scene. In the ghost boy scene, it was placed behind the curtains as a joke by the crew.

At first glance, the cut-out, with Danson in a top-hat and black waistcoat, looks nothing like the ghost boy hiding behind the curtains. Until you look closer…

The picture below is a higher quality image, probably taken from the DVD release of the movie. You can see the resemblance to the Danson cut-out much more clearly, in particular the curve of the waistcoat and the shape of a top hat.

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And this picture is just as the ‘ghost boy’ is about to go out of shot. At this angle, it’s even easier to see the shape of a top hat…

ghostboy3

What about the gun?

The gun is the one I struggled with, but the generally accepted explanation that the shotgun silhouette is nothing but a portion of the cut-out’s black waistcoat. The reason it looks so different (headless, for one) is because of the angle of the camera.

Another rather damning piece of evidence against the little boy theories is the fact that the movie was shot in a studio in Toronto, not in a real residential apartment (unless the studio itself was haunted). What we can be certain of, however, is that no family ever lived there.

Mystery solved? Or a cover-up?

Some people still don’t accept Touchstone Pictures’ explanation for the Three Men and a Baby ghost. They argue that the figure of the boy and the Danson cut-out are plainly not the same and Touchstone is feeding them lies.

What do you think?

Next week: Roswell, Part 4

 

 

The Disney Conspiracy – Subliminal messages and a pro-gay agenda in Frozen?

The Walt Disney Company has been entertaining generations of people for almost a hundred years, from the groundbreaking Mickey Mouse shorts of the 1920s to 2013’s gargantuan money-spinner Frozen. But some conspiracy theorists believe that behind all the laughs, smiles and saccharine happiness is a sinister, seedy plot to corrupt children with sexual subliminal messaging. Let’s take a look at the evidence…

The Case for the Prosecution

Disney is trying to fill children’s heads with ideas about sex before they are ready. In 1995, the American Life League waged war on the Walt Disney Company, alleging that subliminal sexual messages had been hidden in The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Subsequently a woman from Arkansas called Janet Gilmer filed a lawsuit against Disney over the subliminal messages in The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. She alleged that Disney had misrepresented that these movies were suitable for children.

This image featured on the original video box cover of The Little Mermaid - a palace of penises?

This image featured on the original video box cover of The Little Mermaid – a palace of penises?

During the wedding scene in The Little Mermaid, the priest allegedly sports a hard-on

During the wedding scene in The Little Mermaid, the priest allegedly sports a hard-on

A hidden message in the clouds in The Lion King?

A hidden message in the clouds in The Lion King?

More sex in Tangled

More sex in Tangled

And in Aladdin, there is a clip where you can hear Aladdin saying, “Good teenagers, take off your clothes,” as he is trying shoo Rajah away. Have a listen…

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is also accused of subliminal messaging. During the scene when the cartoon car crashes into a lamppost, throwing Jessica Rabbit and Bob Hoskins from the car, the original film had several frames appearing to show Jessica’s naked nether regions. In another scene, animated Baby Herman extended his middle finger and jumped underneath a woman’s dress, re-emerging with drool on his lip. And apparently, during Betty Boop’s cameo, there was a single frame showing her nipples in the original film, which was edited by the time it reached home video.

Jessica Rabbit sans underwear

Jessica Rabbit sans underwear

Betty Boop's nipple slip

Betty Boop’s nipple slip

And finally, Disney announced a recall of the home video releases of The Rescuers in 1999 because of an “objectionable background image” – a topless woman inserted into two frames of the cartoon.

A topless woman sneaks into The Rescuers

A topless woman sneaks into The Rescuers

Disney is also trying to push a pro-gay agenda, to promote the normalcy of homosexuality. The Conspiracy Zone points out that Tom Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical, is openly gay and has said, “There are a lot of gay people at Disney at every level.” Michael Eisner has been quoted as saying he thinks 40% of all Disney employees are gay. And the Conspiracy Zone also points out that Disney has placed adverts in ‘Out’, a homosexual magazine, and promotes ‘Gay Days’ at Walt Disney World.

More recently, Kathryn Skaggs, the writer of “A Well Behaved Mormon Woman”, has highlighted the gay agenda in Disney’s global hit, Frozen. She says that advocating the normalization of homosexuality is not just the underlying message, but the actual story of the movie. She says that Elsa’s powers, her shame and her attempts to suppress them and keep them hidden symbolise same-sex attraction, demonization of homosexuals in society and people’s fears of coming out. When Elsa reveals her powers, she is rejected by the townsfolk and runs away, symbolising how gay people are still treated in many corners of society. The rest of the movie is about getting Elsa to embrace her powers by letting go of her fears and learning to love. Skaggs argues that the lyrics of the huge hit song, Let It Go, illustrate the movie’s gay agenda explicitly:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

She goes on to say that the issue with Frozen’s blatant message is that acting on same-sex attraction is contrary to God’s will. That the normalization of homosexual behaviour in a hugely popular children’s movie should be of enormous concern to parents.

 The case for the defence

In the Janet Gilmer lawsuit, Disney denied all allegations of subliminal sexual messaging in The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. The fact that she dropped her lawsuit two months later demonstrates that her claims did not hold water.

Looking firstly at The Little Mermaid, okay, so if you’re looking for an erection on that cartoon priest, you’ll probably see one. But you can see in this subsequent frame from the scene that it’s highly likely to be his knee. And in the case of the dodgy video box, it’s generally accepted that it was purely accidental, the product of a rush job by the artist.

Knees!

Knees!

The alleged ‘S-E-X’ in The Lion King was later acknowledged by a Disney animator called Tom Sito. He said it was actually ‘S-F-X’, the abbreviation of ‘special effects’, slipped into the film as a signature from the animation department. In an animated movie that is in essence one huge special effect, this makes a lot more sense than the word ‘SEX’ randomly appearing in the clouds. Same goes for the ‘SEX’ in that Tangled image, pointed out by the Conspiracy Zone. I mean, that one is clearly baloney. It’s the conspiracy theorists seeing what they want to see.

The Aladdin ‘subliminal message’ is also generally thought to be nonsense. When you listen to the clip, it might sound a tiny bit like “good teenagers, take off your clothes.”  But it might also be a hundred other things. Once you’re told what to listen for, that’s what you hear. It’s generally accepted to be a bit of stray chatter and bad editing.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is not a film you can place in the same league as the others. Firstly, this movie is a cartoon mash-up celebrating Hollywood animation, featuring not just Disney characters but characters from Warner Bros, Universal and other companies as well. Secondly, Disney produced this movie with Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and released it under its Touchstone Pictures label, because it was considered too risqué for the Disney label. And it is. While overall it is considered suitable for families, there is a lot of humour in the film that is reserved for adults. It opts to portray a ‘realistic’ (and I use that word ironically) world of humans and cartoons living and working together, complete with crime, corruption, blackmail, sex and murder. Remember the patty cake sequence?! And you only have to look at Jessica Rabbit to know you’re not watching a regular Disney film. There are also a few gruesome/violent moments as well, some of which I didn’t see for many years because the TV network I watched it on edited them out.

So it’s no surprise to me that cheeky animators might slip a few naughty bits, like the Baby Herman scene, Jessica Rabbit sans underwear and Betty Boop’s nipples, into the proceedings. These are far more likely to be deliberate than the other ‘subliminal messages’. But to point these out in a movie that already deals with risqué humour and isolate them as part of grand conspiracy to corrupt children is inane.

There’s certainly no denying the naked woman in The Rescuers. But Disney claimed that the images had been inserted during the post-production process more than 20 years previously, after the Disney animators had completed their work. And nobody knew about The Rescuers until Disney themselves announced it and recalled the videos.

Turning to Disney’s pro-gay agenda, there is very little to be said on the matter of Disney employing lots of gay people, except this: Good on them. Long may it continue. As to Disney conspiring to corrupt children with a pro-gay message in Frozen, I say: Good on them again. I will say that the story of Frozen and its famous song Let It Go can be interpreted hundreds of ways, that it can be said to symbolise many fears that people have over being different. It’s not just about homosexuals afraid to come out. But, certainly, it could be seen that way. And why the hell not?

The Verdict

Not guilty.

I can’t see any evidence of ‘subliminal messaging’. For starters, subliminal messaging means to secretly plant a message into the minds of those who are watching or listening with the intention of persuading them. None of these alleged instances actually do this. The word ‘sex’ randomly spliced into The Lion King is not a message. Apparent phallic images in The Little Mermaid are not messages. And what is “Good teenagers, take off your clothes” supposed to mean? Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s nonsense. And all of these instances are generally regarded as being untrue anyway – the product of people’s imaginations.

Does the imagery in The Rescuers and Who Framed Roger Rabbit prove a Disney conspiracy to subvert children’s minds? No. They were not messages. They were jokes inserted by the animators, which the higher-ups at Disney clearly had no knowledge of.

With regard to Disney corrupting children with a pro-gay message, the issue is in the use of the word ‘corrupting’. It’s mostly right-wing religious people and people stuck in medieval times who consider homosexuality to be a bad thing. The rest of the forward-thinking world doesn’t, therefore – in my view – it’s not possible to ‘corrupt’ children with a pro-gay message.

In any case, creating stories about people who are ostracised for being different, and have to learn to conquer their fears and embrace who they are, is what Disney does best. Elsa in Frozen. Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Mulan. Hercules. Dumbo. The message isn’t just pro-gay. It’s bigger than that. It’s pro-tolerance.

There are lots of other conspiracy theories about Disney and Disney movies. I’ll be exploring these in forthcoming articles.

Next week: The X Factor Conspiracy!

Sources: Snopes.com, The Conspiracy Zone, A Well-Behaved Mormon WomanWikipedia

The truth behind the Poltergeist curse – real dead bodies were used during filming

Perhaps the upcoming reboot of the classic horror trilogy, Poltergeist, isn’t such a wise idea. JoBeth Williams, star of the first two movies, reveals a possible reason why the cast of the original trilogy were stalked by death in one of Hollywood’s most notorious curses.

For those of you who need catching up, the idea that some Hollywood movies are cursed by ghosts, demons or the Devil himself is a common and creepy conspiracy theory. One of the most famous theories is that the Poltergeist movies are cursed because of the string of cast members’ deaths that occurred while they were being made.

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Poltergeist is a popular 1982 horror movie directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg. A huge box office success, the movie spawned two sequels that were a case of diminishing returns critically and commercially. (Though I always liked all three – the haunted mirrors in the third movie were a neat idea.)

These days the story of the first movie is rather familiar, having been imitated so many times. The Freelings, a nice American family in the suburbs, are haunted by a band of malevolent spirits. These ghosts communicate with the family’s youngest, Carol-Anne (the cutest child in movie history), through the static in the TV set. There are frightening scenes of demon trees, possessed clowns and a fillet of steak that comes to life (seriously not yum). The revelation at the end of the movie is that the Freelings’ house is built on the site of a relocated cemetery, except that it was only half-relocated. The gravestones were removed. The bodies were not. There are a few souls who are less than happy about the desecration of their resting place (okay, so the sequel kinda retcons this motive, but that’s a discussion for another day).

Dominique Dunne as Dana Freeling

Dominique Dunne as Dana Freeling

The first tragic event to befall the cast of these movies happened just months after the release of the original Poltergeist. Dominique Dunne, who played the Freelings’ eldest daughter, Dana, was strangled to death at the age of 22 by her abusive ex-boyfriend, John Thomas Sweeney.

Julian Beck as Kane, who died during filming. Poor Mr Beck looks like he actually died before filming.

Julian Beck as Kane, who died during filming. Poor Mr Beck looks like he actually died before filming.

Then in 1985, Julian Beck, who played Kane in the sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, died of stomach cancer during filming. To be fair, while his death is often cited to be part of the curse, he was diagnosed long before he took the role. But then Will Sampson, who played Taylor the medicine man in Poltergeist II (and was also known for his role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Next) died from complications following a kidney transplant a year after the release of the film in 1987.

Will Sampson as Taylor and Heather O'Rourke as Carol-Anne

Will Sampson as Taylor and Heather O’Rourke as Carol-Anne

Finally, Heather O’Rourke, who starred as Carol-Anne in all three movies, died suddenly and tragically from septic shock following surgery to correct a bowel obstruction in 1988 at the tender age of 12.

Four cast members in 6 years… A curse? Or a sequence of horrible coincidences?

There’s another cast member I should mention. This one survived, but not for the Grim Reaper’s lack of trying. After several brushes with death throughout his life, Richard Lawson, who played parapsychologist Ryan in the first film, was in a freak plane crash in 1992 that killed 27 other people. He only survived because his ticket was upgraded to first class when the ticket agent noticed he was an actor. But the man who sat in Lawson’s original seat was killed. He’s still alive today – did he manage to dodge the curse?

JoBeth Williams as Diane, along with some angry corpses

JoBeth Williams as Diane, along with some angry corpses

JoBeth Williams, who played the mother, Diane Freeling, fuelled the curse rumours when she revealed on VH1’s I Love The 80s that the production crew used real human skeletons during the filming of the first movie’s swimming pool scene, when bodies and coffins start erupting from the ground. Apparently it was the cheaper, easier (and grosser) option.

A case of art imitating life?