When I was working for a major broadcasting conglomerate, I passed the time sneaking cult symbols into its affiliates' news graphics. I don't really know why I did it. Maybe because I'm just easily amused.
I became interested in graphics when I was young. In high school, I used some savings to buy a new computer with really high quality graphics capability for its day and started making 2D cartoons, mostly involving things killing each other, because I was a teenage boy that was funny—things dying, things running into walls—all poorly animated.
I applied to a bunch of schools for Comp Sci and Electrical Engineering, but went to a state school. It was the cheapest and offered a good scholarship. At the time the school was in the process of dismantling their traditional arts studies department while simultaneously stepping up their computer graphics department, so I ended up in the imaging and digital arts field.
Author, as anonymously told to
They liked my demo reel of killer teddy bears
After graduation I wasn’t looking at many prospects, but a friend of mine at college was working at a company who sold computers and IT services to a large broadcasting company on the East Coast and heard that they were looking for a new 3D animator so he put my name in the hat. There really wasn’t an interview. It was more of just an overview of my demo reel, which mostly consisted of stuff I had done in college. I threw in some other stuff, like 3D animations going back to my high school style of things—mostly teddy bears—killing each other, drinking, having sex, doing drugs… Nothing particularly not safe for work, but it was definitely in there.
It was my job to make 3D mockups of 2D images. For instance, making a 3D model of the station logo and drawing it into a template that had some camera moves so we could have it fly across the screen and what not. I would also have to do less templated promos for various programming, like mocking up the background for the sports package, or creating particular graphics for special news segments.
I wasn’t particularly excited to start working at this massive media conglomerate, but I was excited to have something to start paying off my student loans. It was super laid-back; I contracted 30-35 hours a week, I was coming in when everyone else was leaving, I was leaving as soon as I got my assignments done because no one else was there to keep track of how long I was at the office. My contract had me working 35 hours a week. Realistically I was probably working more like 15.
So it was a pretty cushy job. At least, at first.
of voters think the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals
This is a graphic dramatic reenactment of my secret handiwork
Your local news, broadcast from very far away
When I joined the company it owned 63 stations nationwide. It was in the midst of trying to centralize production for all of those tv stations so there wouldn’t have to be someone locally in, say, Tennessee or New York that was working on the graphics or even presenting the news. It was someone at our broadcasting headquarters doing it instead. Specifically, they were trying to standardize the look of the national segment so that it would make national segments look seamless with local affiliate broadcasting—those affiliates being NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX—as well as create news segments centrally that were distributed as local newscasts. And we didn’t really have to worry about matching their local graphic logos, because we provided the entire graphics package for stations across the board.
Then the job stopped being cushy. For some reason it seemed logical to the production head that I came in to work at the same time as everyone else and stay in the office a realistic 35-40 hours, even though my work took significantly less time than that. This led to a lot of sleeping at my desk, but I’d try to counteract nodding off by doing dive rolls down the hall.
There was absolutely a right-wing political motive behind the company’s broadcasting decisions
As time went on I found out more about the company that really made me like working there less. For instance, just before election time 2004, they decided to produce broadcast an anti-John Kerry documentary [Stolen Honor] across most of its stations, which violated federal requirements to provide balanced airtime to candidates. After the public outcry, they decided to broadcast a poorly executed analysis reviewing whether or not they should have shown the documentary, which was obviously biased but somehow allowed the company to avoid any legal trouble.
There was also the time that Ted Koppel was going to spend a whole Nightline broadcast reading the names of American soldiers who had died in Iraq since the beginning of the invasion, and the company decided to censor the program by ordering its affiliates not to run the segment. They also produced a Bill O’Reilley-style Conservative rant program that broadcast on all of its affiliate stations, so there was absolutely a right-wing political motive behind the company’s broadcasting decisions.
of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order
The giant pentagram, "A" is for Anarchy, the all-seeing eye
I started fucking around with the graphics packages when I leveled up from making generic logos to getting more creative projects like designing the holiday animations and elements for a special pre-produced investigative news segment or special war report.
I’d find a way to incorporate something in the graphics, usually small and out of the way—maybe a reference to the Illuminati or Freemasonry—just to fuck with anyone who noticed it. I also liked using symbols created by John Dee, who was a 16th century alchemist and occultist, like the esoteric Monas Hieroglyphica, or just simple, but well-known things like the pentagram or the eye in the pyramid.
I wasn’t doing it because the news was so obviously right-wing, but doing it made me feel a little bit better about myself at the end of the day, because I was working for a company that was diametrically opposed to the generally lefty, generally pro-human rights views that I cared about.
I think the first time I decided to have some fun with the graphics was for a sports package; at least that’s the one I put a giant pentagram in. It was one of those intros where there was the initial background that I made, and someone else would add the animation of the helmets of the two football teams smashing into each other. Then there would be the pentagram when the pull out of team stats came out. It was almost too fast to catch.
of voters think Barack Obama
is the anti-Christ
ANOTHER graphic dramatic reenactment of my secret handiwork
I had to do a graphic for this “Our news travels the world” promo that had three red comets flying across the globe, and, well, I just had to make them draw a giant Anarchy “A.” When I had to make a Halloween promo, I just couldn’t help myself from throwing a Masonic pyramid eye on one of the tombstones, you know just to keep people who were looking for that kind of thing on their toes. There were a couple of Discordian references like the Sacred Chao’s apple and pentagon that I’d throw in, which would really only be obvious to anyone who knew about Robert Anton Wilson’s llluminatus! trilogy.
A couple of times I tried to be tongue-in-cheek. I used words, but those always seemed to backfire. Like for a “Media Exposed” segment, I’d throw in words like “bias, lies, and corruption” which of course were supposed to be self-referential, but the company read it as if they were cracking open the “bias, lies, and corruption” of competing media outlets. They always got approved by the production head.
I don’t think anyone at work ever caught on, and I never met anyone who mentioned witnessing weird symbols in the local news. I mean, most of the people I know or talk to don’t watch network television, and honestly I never even saw most of my graphic copy in the wild because I didn’t watch these stations either.
Eventually I got fired for a totally unrelated reason. Apparently someone complained about picking my nose at a meeting. That’s really all the information I was given at my termination; by the time I got back to my desk my computer had already been removed, and then I had to awkwardly ask the person who fired me for bus fare because I had carpooled to work that morning. From rumors I heard later, the guy who had fired me decided he hated me at the last Christmas party, and I guess a week prior to me being fired I told someone that I had started working at a lefty radical bookstore, but I didn’t think anyone cared about that. He apparently was just looking for a reason to fire me, so that was that.
of voters think the moon landing
A conspiracy theory theory
I don’t really know why there are so many conspiracy theorists; my only working theory is that, well, sometimes there is a conspiracy, but often the conspiracy is a lot simpler and less insidious than people are making it out to be. But there’s also just a latent mistrust for the governmental structures, which is especially true in my city, which has been in the throes of institutionalized racism and economic collapse for a very long time. But most conspiracy theorists I’ve interacted with are not victims to that as they seem to come from a certain level of comfort.
I think that comfort caters to conspiracy because they’re comfortable enough to think about things and realize how fucked up they are, but instead of recognizing real causes they create an impossibly malicious master plan to explain it all.
I don’t know, maybe it helps them feel better about not doing anything about how fucked up things are.
of voters say they believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power