The Boys, Jeffrey Epstein and Tireless Cynicism
By Wil Forbis
Sept 1, 2019
(Warning: Some mild spoilers for the Amazon show The Boys below, but likely nothing you couldn't figure out from the previews.)
What do Jeffrey Epstein and Amazon's new live action superhero series The Boys have in common? "Not much," might be the retort emanating from those of you not blessed with my ability to form the most tenuous of connections. But let me dig in and see if I can change your mind.
Let's do some introductions here starting with The Boys. The show is based on a comic book written by Garth Ennis, the scribe famous for creating the critically acclaimed Preacher comic (one I am a fan of) and also for doing a dark run on Marvel's (otherwise cheery) Punisher series. The Boys takes place in a unique comic universe wherein superheroes exist but are almost all assholes who treat the regular folk they purport to serve and protect with disdain and contempt. In the first episode, a Flash-like super-speedster accidentally kills a woman by colliding into her at bullet train speed and then pauses to give only the most cursory of apologies to her shocked boyfriend.
I recently binge-watched the show and basically loved it. It's a refreshing antidote to the current glut of superhero movies that portray the tired cliche that's driven comic books for 90+ years now, that of the fearless, faultless superhero who is fundamentally Christ-like in his or her moral essence. (Not that this idea hasn't been critiqued before; see comics like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight or Alan Moore's "Watchmen.")
But The Boys traffics in its own cliches, particularly the old platitude that anyone with any power in society is at least corrupt if not downright evil. Is the Christian mega preacher actually an unabashed homosexual? No doubt. Is the Captain America/Superman hybrid really a murderous, authoritarian maniac? But of course. Are various government agencies and corporations hatching grand schemes that trample upon the rights of the common man? You betcha. The belief in heroism and decency inherent in most comics is, according to The Boys, only for the most wide-eyed and gullible of suckers.
Letís now turn to Jeffrey Epstein, an individual who likely needs less of an introduction. If you haven't been living under a rock for the past six months, you're aware that Epstein was wealthy financier who was convicted of sex crimes in 2008 and was under renewed investigation recently. You also know that Epstein traveled in influential circles and counted President Trump and President Clinton among his acquaintances, as well and many media icons, scientists and other celebrities. And of course, you know Epstein recently killed himself in a New York prison cell.
Well, maybe you don't know that last statement, or at least don't agree with it. From what I've seen and heard on blogs, podcasts and my own Facebook feed, the idea that Epstein committed suicide is a dubious assertion. What is far more likely, according to critics of the "official" truth, is that Epstein was murdered by one of his powerful cohorts as a means of ensuring that he did not reveal any number of embarrassing secrets. (Especially conspiracy prone folks, like pop band Foster The People, allege that Epstein's death was faked and he is now a free man undergoing facial reconstruction.)
I want to be careful with what I say here. I think it is possible Epstein was murdered. I've no doubt he did know things that powerful people would like to keep hidden. But I think it's far more likely Epstein did in fact kill himself upon realizing that his remaining life span would consist of incarceration and pariah status. (The fact that he was allowed to kill himself while being held for trial is a major fuck up on the part of his New York jailers.)
Why do I doubt the "Epstein was murdered" conspiracy? For the same reason I doubt most conspiracies: they require complete complicity and silence from a large number of people. People running the jail would have to be bought off or somehow placed in a position where they could not prevent the murder. The coroner and her employees would have to also be paid or threatened to ensure they did not report suspicions. And all these people would have to keep quiet until the day they die. That sort of thing works in the movies but is very difficult to pull off in reality.
The plot of The Boys and Epstein conspiracies traffic in a particular type of anti-institutional cynicism. In this worldview it's a given that most institutions---be they government agencies, religious organizations, or multinational corporations---are corrupt and routinely manipulate world events to their benefit. In gauging the moral direction of any institution, a betting man should assume the worst.
This cynicism and nihilism is in some sense understandable when one considers how many organizations over the years have been exposed for engaging in illicit behavior. The Pentagon Papers revealed the lies the U.S. government told about Viet Nam. The Catholic Church hid its pedophile priests from generations of its followers. Cigarette companies suppressed internal discoveries that their product was lethal. The crimes of Penn State's Jerry Sandusky were not confronted for years. And #metoo has revealed innumerable predators who were enabled or ignored by their institutional masters.
But I'll make a couple points here. First, none of these organizations kept their secrets. Because people talk. And it's because people talk that launching conspiracies like killing Epstein would be so trepidatious. (When you think about it, most of the exposed conspiracies mentioned above---the crimes of the church, big tobacco, etc.---were about ass-covering once the truth was realized as opposed to launching grand, greedy schemes for their own sake.)
Secondly, proffering cynical conspiracies with little evidence does no small amount of damage. The more people believe that they lie impotent before the onslaught of powerful forces the less likely they are to try and improve things. Why bother when the deck is so stacked against you? And thus overwhelmed people settle into a grim malaise of hopelessness and melancholy.
Personally, I reject such cynicism. I do feel that this rejection is based on a fair reading of reality, but there may be an element of faith to it. When forced to choose I choose to believe average people are not so bad.
If I were conspiracy prone though, I might allege that I've actually stumbled onto the master plan of the Illuminati: convince the population at large that powerful puppeteers control things so thoroughly that any kind of resistance is futile and the only intelligent move is to accept total defeat.
If I mysteriously disappear after publishing this article you'll know the truth.
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Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.