Pop Culture Conspiracy Theories: 8 of the Most Popular in History

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Love them, hate them, read them, believe them — it cannot be denied that conspiracy theories have their place in the pop culture zeitgeist. Experts point out that conspiracy theories tend to flourish during times of unrest, when society is looking for explanations. “We’re drawn to conspiracy theories because the amorphous, sinister nature of the conspiracy is far more palatable than the material, sinister nature of power,” Shana Redmond, an English professor at Columbia University who studies the intersection of race, culture, and power, tells Teen Vogue via email. “To grapple with those real things is often harder than developing elaborate stories about how they happen and who is to blame.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard about some of the popular theories in this story. “Even off-the-wall conspiracy theories gain some traction because, one, Hollywood is opaque and we’ve been taught to imagine that almost anything is possible there given the eccentricities, influence, and income of celebrities,” Redmond explains. “Some of [these theories] are grounded in an attempt to explain things that are indisputable (for example, the CIA-assassination rumor of Bob Marley is based in knowledge that the CIA participated in many global assassinations) or things that are politically convenient (like Obama “birthers” who were looking to further weaponize US xenophobia in order to thwart Obama’s presidential campaign and fortify Trump’s).”

One thing is for sure, though: Conspiracy theories will always be around. (The Illuminati, anyone?) Here are eight of the most popular conspiracy theories in pop culture history:

1. Avril Lavigne was replaced by a doppelgänger.

In the eyes of the public, pop stars can sometimes seem less like actual people and more like personas, which is why some of us may be more inclined to jump to outlandish conclusions about them. (Does anyone remember the “Paul is dead” theory?)

One victim of such thinking: Avril Lavigne. In 2011, a Brazilian fan blog gathered various rumors that had swirled for years about the Canadian singer and published a post called “Avril Is Dead.”  This theory alleged the singer was battling depression that ultimately led her to die by suicide shortly after the release of her debut album, Let Go.

A version of the theory asserted that a body double, a woman named Melissa Vandella, was hired to replace Lavigne after her demise, allegedly so the singer’s record company might still turn a profit (at least, that is what the theory’s creator implied). Avril Rangers, the nickname for Lavigne’s most die-hard fans, apparently found clues everywhere: what they saw as a different nose; Vandella’s apparently shorter height; a mysterious photo featuring “Melissa” written on Lavigne’s hand.

Lavigne has shot down these rumors, but the theory persists, regaining traction every few years.

2. Marilyn Monroe was killed by the government because she knew state secrets.

Cultural icon Marilyn Monroe’s death seems to have sparked a thousand conspiracy theories. The FBI monitored the actor for suspected communist ties, due largely to her romantic relationship with playwright Arthur Miller. And rumors have long swirled that she was John F. Kennedy’s lover, his brother Bobby’s, or both, and that this is the reason she was murdered. Conspiracy theorists have claimed her supposedly close ties to the then president and/or the US attorney general made her privy to sensitive information, making her a liability in the eyes of the national security government.

Content retrieved from: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/most-popular-conspiracy-theories-pop-culture-history.

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