One week after Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 13 others near the UCSB campus, 80s punk singer Exene Cervenka Tweeted her theory: The Santa Barbara shootings were a hoax. Ugh. The X frontwoman shared several YouTube videos, peppered with her own commentary, in an attempt to discredit the tragedy by picking apart news clips and Rodger's taped manifestos. Cervenka's ramblings sparked an online firestorm, and rightfully so. But unfortunately, she isn't alone.
Yup, there are dark corners of the Internet where people have spent hours debunking what they believe is an elaborate plot to tighten gun control in the US. According to these "truthers," who issue frenzied rants via YouTube channels and forums, Santa Barbara was only the latest in a string of gun control facades that include Sandy Hook, the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Ford Hood, and most major gun tradies in the US over the last 20 years.
Cervenka's Tweets can easily lead you down a deep, dark Internet rabbit hole that has already garnered a shocking number of participants. The theories presented, of course, are easily dismissible. But the vigor with which they are made is unsettling, particularly when given credence by a punk icon like Cervenka.
Sureties such as "undeniable" are thrown around by the makers, and anyone who believes the media is deemed an "idiot."
Some common, gruesome themes emerge from the "truther" videos about Elliot Rodger.
Elliot Rodger is a bad actor. Rodger's extensive chronicling of his thoughts before his death gave conspiracy theorists a lot to sift through. The common consensus, however, was that his confessions were simply bad acting. There is an entire video dedicated to trying to point out parts where parts of his backdrop look like a green screen (although they ignore the part where a car rolls through the studio space). Rodger's unhurried, soft-spoken delivery apparently means that he couldn't have possibly had the anger to carry out something of that magnitude. You know, because all mass murderers have been abundantly clear in their intent.
Scene changes. These kind of things lie at the core of every conspiracy theory — an obsessive, twisted game of Where's Waldo? that finds what some people legitimately believe are doctored and staged photos. Missing lamps and stop signs, disappearing license plates, and mismatched trees on the street where Rodger's car was left, are all offered up as evidence of an ill-executed hoax.Why wouldn't women want the rich kid? Maybe one of the most disturbing tropes is the idea that women couldn't possibly resist a rich kid that drives a BMW. The idea that he couldn't get a woman to sleep with him seemed to baffle these theorists, because all women are superficial gold diggers. That attitude is, perhaps, one of the most disturbing ideas to have emerged within the theories, drawing on the same kind of sexist theories that Rodger himself held.