DON’T LOOK UP, BIRDS AREN’T REAL: Comedy and Conspiracy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter begins by suggesting that Karl Popper’s understanding of conspiracy theories is reductive and ill-equipped to account for the current complex state of conspiracies where it is often the case that the conspirator is also the conspiracy theorist. Instead, what is actually needed to make sense of conspiracy theorizing today is attention to irony, with particular attention to the productive ways that satirical irony can reveal situational ironies. To that end, this piece looks at three examples of satirical irony working to reveal ironic conspiracies, each of which exposes different angles to current conspiratorial conspiracy theorizing. The first analyzes how the satirical irony of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show was effective at exposing the ironies of a news mediascape that depended on manufacturing conspiracies and distributing disinformation rather than informing the public. The second looks at how the satirical film Don’t Look Up reveals not only the irony that climate scientists aren’t trusted to communicate the truth about the climate, but also the even more disturbing irony that climate science conspiracy theories are trusted more in certain circles. The third example explains how “The Birds Aren’t Real” movement has used a parody conspiracy theory to expose absurdity through absurdity for an entire generation of young people who were literally raised on conspiracies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTheory Conspiracy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000958041
ISBN (Print)9781032450162
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities

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