Any media outlet willing to give this guy a platform should have expected the unexpected.
It’s Peter McIndoe, who started the site “Birds Aren’t Real” in 2017 and has been riding the joke for nearly five years. BAR is a goof on conspiracy theories like QAnon, alleging that birds are actually government surveillance drones. McIndoe has fully committed to the bit beyond running the website, sometimes staging fake protests in public and rarely breaking character. You would think the gag would have gone stale by now but paranoia in the age of COVID has kept it fresh. Even federal agencies have gotten in on it:
Sorry, but this is nature and it is a wonder. pic.twitter.com/ia5Xedt8l0
— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) January 5, 2022
Reportedly BAR sells several thousand bucks’ worth of merchandise each month, another reason for McIndoe to keep up the beat. Although he did break character to discuss the point of his satire with the Times last month:
“Birds Aren’t Real is not a shallow satire of conspiracies from the outside. It is from the deep inside,” he said. “A lot of people in our generation feel the lunacy in all this, and Birds Aren’t Real has been a way for people to process that.”…
“It basically became an experiment in misinformation,” Mr. McIndoe said. “We were able to construct an entirely fictional world that was reported on as fact by local media and questioned by members of the public.”…
Mr. McIndoe said he kept the concerns top of mind. “Everything we’ve done with Birds Aren’t Real is made to make sure it doesn’t tip into where it could have a negative end result on the world,” he said. “It’s a safe space for people to come together and process the conspiracy takeover of America. It’s a way to laugh at the madness rather than be overcome by it.”
The key to keeping your Internet venture relevant after five years is to seize on any media opportunities to promote it. Being young and net-savvy, McIndoe understands the power of viral promotion. This morning he seized an opportunity with both hands.
— Tim Hogan (@timjhogan) January 7, 2022
There are two types of media in politics, “paid media” and “earned media.” “Paid media” is a fancy term for advertising. You pay a TV network a certain sum and they give you airtime. “Earned media” is when you’re given free airtime on news programs because something you’ve said or done is newsy.
McIndoe earned his “earned media” this morning.
He was back in character afterward in an interview with Newsweek:
“Birds Aren’t Real rarely gets the Mainstream Media platform to share our ideas, so I was very excited going into this interview, but also nervous,” McIndoe explained to Newsweek in an email. “When my nerves start crumbling in on me, my belly can start aching and get queasy. The interview started, and I kind of blacked out not sure what I said. Then next thing I knew, I heard the news anchor use the word “Conspiracy Theory” (talking about our movement.) When I heard this I absolutely retched couldn’t hold it in.”…
But in an email to Newsweek, McIndoe said he thinks his coffee was poisoned. He said that immediately after the interview he felt “mortified” and “embarrassed.” He said he knew there was pressure to represent the movement on mainstream media and felt a weight on him “like Hercules.”
“That interview could have deprogrammed so many blind sheeple watching the mainstream media on a Thursday morning. I could have finally exposed the bird drone surveillance plot to the most blind of audience. But I couldn’t keep my stomach beast in my chest,” he said.
Did the anchors seriously think he had vomited due to nerves? They played it very straight afterward.
I’ll leave you with this from 2019. Like I say, the guy is fully committed to the bit.