Shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, a clip from the cartoon Family Guy surfaced online — helped along by a prominent plug from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his website Infowars — that eerily seemed to foreshadow the ugly events: It showed Peter Griffin detonating a pair of bombs in order to win the Boston Marathon. But it’s totally fake — it’s actually two unrelated scenes from the same episode, “Turban Cowboy,” spliced together.
The spliced clip was roundly condemned; Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane — among many others — expressed his disgust on Twitter:
The edited Family Guy clip currently circulating is abhorrent. The event was a crime and a tragedy, and my thoughts are with the victims.— Seth MacFarlane
On Tuesday, Fox removed the episode in question from Fox.com and Hulu.com. The clip itself has been removed from YouTube multiple times due to copyright claims, but like a game of Whac-a-Mole, it continues to pop up somewhere else online each time YouTube pulls it.
The posters’ persistence offers a glimpse at the mindset that keeps conspiracy theories, and their supporting media, in circulation: One interviewed by BuzzFeed said the deceptive editing actually reveals “subliminal” intent in the show.
YouTube user Auzarion posted the clip yesterday. Communicating with BuzzFeed via YouTube message, he explained that he didn’t splice the clip together himself — he took the a copy of a video posted online by another user, brendan87. The copy of the clip posted by brendan87, who did not respond to requests for comment, has since been removed.
Auzarion, a resident of Alberta, Canada, whose first name is Barry, said he started sharing the video around the same time that Infowars and the Alex Jones Show did.
“I just spread them everywhere, then I heard Wikipedia put up [an] ‘it’s all a hoax’ thing and it said it was started by Alex Jones,” Barry said. He believes the allegation that Jones created the clip is “nonsense.”
Infowars did post the clip on Tuesday, writing, “It’s odd that a segment of the Family Guy would feature a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. It’s even more strange the popular Fox show showed two bombs detonated with a cell phone.” That post has since been wiped from the site.
Barry admits the two scenes that appear in the Family Guy clip — the first depicting Peter Griffin being asked how he won the Boston Marathon, and the second depicting Griffin using a cell phone to detonate two bombs — did not appear side-by-side when the show aired on March 17, but rather on opposite sides of the same episode.
Still, he said he felt it was nonetheless important to post the clip and publicize the Family Guy episode’s “subliminal messaging.”
“They know fully well they put things in intentionally. Some things of course are completely coincidence but most of the time its intentional and they [the show’s creators] know they are doing it,” Barry said.
Asked about Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s comment calling the clip abhorrent, Barry said, “He knows what he does and I definitely saw it coming.”
Asked if he is concerned that the clip makes light of the tragedy in Boston, Barry said, “I am skeptical of the entire thing, I still don’t believe anyone has died during the event.”
Like Jones, Barry believes the the marathon bombing was a “false flag.” He pointed to this tweet by the Boston Globe saying that there would be a “controlled explosion” by the bomb squad. (A third, controlled explosion was carried out on Monday in Boston an hour after the first two blasts.)
In the middle of messaging with BuzzFeed for this story, almost as if on cue, Auzarion’s copy of the clip was removed from the video-sharing site, leaving a copyright-claim notice in its place. Not that the single takedown will make much difference — a YouTube search for “Boston Marathon Family Guy” still yields more than 18,800 results.