Monday, April 19, 2010

MAE BRUSSELL Documentray (12 parts)

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The late researcher and radio show host is considered by many to be the queen of conspiriology, with theories on nearly every facet of societal ills. Tim Canale’s first film, which is mostly comprised of Brussell’s 1987 lecture at UC Santa Cruz, is a rare opportunity to see Lady Mae herself going on one of her patented esoteric rants against all the nefarious government plots that are heralding our imminent descent into a tyrannical post-capitalistic police state.

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Throughout the course of her speech, the former housewife and needlepoint enthusiast stitches together so many disparate elements and rogue agencies into one overarching cloak-and-dagger meta-narrative, it’s a challenge sometimes just to keep pace with her. In Brussell’s worldview, it’s not unlikely to hear Hoover, Hitler, Hoffa, and Hughes, all in the same breath. And while her research is highly meticulous and annotated, its delivery is so rapid-fire, and the implications of each sentence so far-reaching, that watching it in one sitting is downright exhausting.

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 2 of 12

Whether or not you agree with any or all of her theories, or if you’ve even heard of her, you can still enjoy this film. It does, however, help to be fluent in the tongue of the paranoid, the language of the conspiracy buff. Conspirinoia, call it. Unless you can navigate through a conversation on the New World Order, the Warren Commission, the Illuminati and MK Ultra, you may find yourself staring at Ms. Brussell like a dog that’s just been shown a card trick. For novices, I’d recommend reading a transcription of one of her broadcasts first, so that when your mind begins reeling, and it will, you can let it all marinate a bit before returning to the fray.

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 3 of 12

Her basic argument, though, goes something like this: by studying the techniques employed by the CIA to overthrow foreign governments and replace them with more Western-friendly despots (sorry Reagan, “autocrats”) who are less hostile to the idea of contracting out their labor pools and natural resources to the U.S., and comparing these methods to those used by Nazi strategists and propagandists, Brussell discovered that the same tactics and even names recurred again and again. Her disquieting conclusion? The Third Reich didn’t die off after World War II, but rather was in effect absorbed secretly and purposefully into our own country’s highest echelons of government and industry and thrives to this day, acting as the invisible hand guiding our great big SUV down the road to ruin. Even though our government’s original goal was probably just to put all the German scientific know-how and insight to use for America, Brussell might say that we miscalculated. Hey, our leaders can’t think of everything. They were just giving top cabinet jobs to Nazi war criminals in order not to waste such bright minds. What could go wrong?

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 4 of 12

Augmenting the speech footage are various inserts of interviews with her friends that paint a portrait of Brussell as a true believer, and this comes across in the film. The conviction and righteous indignation with which she dissects and reassembles lies into what she sees as hidden truths are akin to the zeal of a preacher out to save the souls of the unconverted.

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 5 of 12

The film’s video and audio quality aren’t anything to write home about, but the chance to see Mae do her thing in front of a live audience of eager students is definitely worth the viewing. When she tells them (to paraphrase) “Your parents send you through our education system where they brainwash you for sixteen years, and if you once question it, they call you ungrateful,” the crowd erupts into applause. She comes across as sincere, earnest, and even humorous, and while you may scoff at some of her wilder connections, you’ve got to admire her dedication. For twenty five years she’s been speaking her mind to anyone who’ll listen on her little radio program out of Carmel, California, and even though she’s been threatened with death multiple times (including once by Sandra Good of the Manson Family) and monitored by the FBI (who have a one hundred twenty page file on her), she soldiered on until her death in 1988 of cancer (her followers suspect foul play). If her speculations seem too outlandish to be true, consider this: she predicted RFK’s assassination to his mother a week before it happened, and after World War II the US did in fact pardon war criminals from both Japan and Germany, including employing over five hundred Nazi scientists from the Third Reich and the S.S. into what eventually became NASA under “Operation Paperclip.” Perhaps the idea that some of them retained patriotism to their homeland isn’t so farfetched.

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 6 of 12

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 7 of 12

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 8 of 12

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 9 of 12

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 10 of 12

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 11 of 12

Mae Brussell in Santa Cruz 12 of 12

On the same token, it’d be a psychologist’s dream to examine Mae Brussell and make a case for her as a textbook Paranoid Personality or even Delusional Disorder. Yet the more you begin to examine the official record of history, the more you may find yourself wondering who’s been deluding who.

-Andy Gately

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