May 5, 2022

Birds Aren’t Real: The conspiracy theory that satirizes conspiracy theories 5/03/22 Transcript

Birds Aren't Real: The conspiracy theory that satirizes conspiracy theories 5/03/22
RevBlogTranscripts60 MinutesBirds Aren’t Real: The conspiracy theory that satirizes conspiracy theories 5/03/22 Transcript

Birds Aren’t Real: The conspiracy theory that satirizes conspiracy theories 5/03/22. Read the transcript here.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

Speaker 1: (00:05)
There have always been conspiracy theories. The moon landings were fake. Elvis is alive. Paul is dead. But as disinformation has sprouted across the internet, more malicious conspiracy theories have entered our homes, workplaces, and even the halls of Congress. So you might not be surprised to learn that more than a million people have become followers of a conspiracy theory that birds aren’t real. That’s right. The birds you think you see flying in the sky are actually government surveillance drones. Sound insane? It’s meant to. The Birds Aren’t Real movement is thankfully pure satire, intended to mirror some of the absurdity that’s taken flight across the country.

Speaker 2: (00:50)
The story will continue in a moment.

Peter McIndoe: (00:56)
Are you ready to march? Are you ready to march?

Speaker 1: (00:56)
That is Peter McIndoe, the founder of Birds Aren’t Real, falling over himself to lead a flock of his followers into a frenzy on the streets of Hollywood.

Peter McIndoe: (01:13)
Birds aren’t real.

Speaker 1: (01:15)
Fortunately, this rally, like most things in Hollywood, is fake. 200 self-described bird truthers, all in on the act, playfully protested the very serious sounding bird drone surveillance crisis.

Peter McIndoe: (01:31)
If it flies?

Protesters: (01:31)
It spies.

Peter McIndoe: (01:31)
If it flies.

Protesters: (01:31)
It spies.

Speaker 1: (01:33)
If it flies it spies, they chanted.

Peter McIndoe: (01:37)
Birds aren’t real.

Speaker 1: (01:37)
Then called out the mainstream media’s supposed avian agenda.

Peter McIndoe: (01:41)

Protesters: (01:41)
Pro bird.

Peter McIndoe: (01:41)

Protesters: (01:44)
Pro bird.

Speaker 1: (01:44)
Accusing CNN of being pro bird. A few days later, we went along as Peter McIndoe, still in character, somberly explained to us why birds aren’t real.

Speaker 1: (01:55)
So what do bird truthers believe?

Peter McIndoe: (01:59)
Every single bird in the sky is a robot. The United States government basically massacred 12 billion birds, beautiful living birds using crop dusting airplanes flying over the States over the course of 40 years. And as the real birds died, the robotic drones rose. Now we live in a world where there’s 12 billion robotic birds watching us every single day.

Peter McIndoe: (02:24)
Birdwatching drones.

Protesters: (02:25)

Peter McIndoe: (02:25)
Birdwatching drones.

Protesters: (02:25)

Speaker 1: (02:28)
McIndoe kept up the act.

Peter McIndoe: (02:31)
I never hear anyone asking, “Hey, why don’t our presidents talk?” They tweet on the bird app with their left wing or right wing politics. I think a lot starts to unfold and the matrix starts to shatter, the more questions that you ask.

Speaker 1: (02:45)
What bird is most suspicious to you?

Peter McIndoe: (02:48)
Really every bird.

Speaker 1: (02:49)
How do you feel about seagulls?

Peter McIndoe: (02:51)
I don’t trust them. I’ll tell you that. Have you ever been to the beach and you got some food left over and a seagull comes over and tries to get it? That’s not because it’s hungry. The mainstream media wants to sell us this lie that oh, birds are hungry, when in fact the seagulls are taking your food to bring it back to the Pentagon for DNA harvesting and testing.

Speaker 1: (03:11)
How do you feel about 60 Minutes? I’m surprised you’ve decided to sit here with us.

Peter McIndoe: (03:15)
I’m not going to go on news shows, but shows about clocks and time, I’m okay with sharing my information with, and I understand this isn’t anything like the media. So thanks for having me on your clock show.

Speaker 1: (03:28)
With that, he finally broke character and we met the real Peter McIndoe.

Speaker 1: (03:33)
You’re the person that I’ve been hearing about, but haven’t seen.

Peter McIndoe: (03:36)
Okay, great. Well, it’s wonderful to meet you.

Speaker 1: (03:37)
Yeah. Nice to meet you too.

Speaker 2: (03:38)
Welcome to bird history.

Speaker 1: (03:40)
McIndoe, the 24 year old college dropout behind Birds Aren’t Real is fortunately nothing like the megaphone carrying character under the cowboy hat.

Peter McIndoe: (03:52)
Who will save us?

Speaker 1: (03:53)
He told us it’s all a parody and it spread to billboards, bumper stickers and popped up at halftime during the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game last month.

Speaker 1: (04:03)
What’s the purpose of all of this.

Peter McIndoe: (04:05)
So it’s taking this concept of misinformation and almost building a little safe space to come together within it and laugh at it rather than be scared by it, and accept the lunacy of it all than be a bird truther for a moment in time when everything’s so crazy.

Protesters: (04:21)
Birds aren’t real. Birds aren’t real.

Peter McIndoe: (04:23)
The vision was creating something that reflected the absurdity through the eyes of the most confused archetype.

Peter McIndoe: (04:29)
People when they make fun of me, don’t realize people also made fun of the founding fathers before they stormed the British gates and took over.

Speaker 1: (04:37)
The humor is meant to be apolitical. MacIndoe’s co-conspirators Claire Chronis, Cameron Kasky and Connor Gaydos, say it’s become an outlet for a generation that’s been surrounded by conspiracy theories.

Connor Gaydos: (04:51)
It’s an opportunity for, I think our generation to laugh, to make fun, to be like, “Look, here’s like a laundry list of things that haven’t come true.”

Cameron Kasky: (05:02)
You’ve been lying to us. So we’re going to lie to you back, and we’re going to do it in a way that really is funny.

Speaker 1: (05:08)
Is there any danger of adding to the noise?

Cameron Kasky: (05:12)
Always. We want to make sure we’re not using language that actually harmful and hateful conspiracy theories use to target people.

Speaker 1: (05:20)
Cameron Kasky would know.

Cameron Kasky: (05:22)
Well, I’ve been targeted, doxed and harassed by QAnon before.

Cameron Kasky: (05:27)
We are the mass shooting generation.

Speaker 1: (05:29)
We first met Kasky in 2018 after he survived the horrific shooting at his Parkland, Florida High School where 14 classmates and three teachers were murdered.

Cameron Kasky: (05:38)
Welcome to the revolution.

Speaker 1: (05:40)
Kasky helped create March For Our Lives, an organization that called for stronger gun laws.

Cameron Kasky: (05:46)
My friends and I were called crisis actors, and I kind of had this strange perspective on conspiracy theories because the internet was telling me that my father and grandfather were child traffickers because they’re adoption lawyers.

Speaker 1: (06:00)
Isn’t there part of this that’s just saying simply, “Look at all these conspiracy theories. They’re ridiculous. And we’re going to be ridiculous so you understand that this is ridiculous.”

Connor Gaydos: (06:11)
That’s the idea.

Claire Chronis: (06:11)
Fighting lunacy with lunacy.

Speaker 1: (06:14)
Fighting lunacy with Lunacy, yeah.

Speaker 1: (06:16)
McIndoe has been rebelling since his days growing up in a small town in Arkansas.

Peter McIndoe: (06:21)
I grew up in a really fundamentalist community that was like hyper conservative

Speaker 1: (06:28)
Were conspiracy theories a part of the community?

Peter McIndoe: (06:31)
Oh, I mean embedded in the community.

Speaker 1: (06:34)

Peter McIndoe: (06:34)
Yo. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (06:35)
Were you in trouble a lot?

Peter McIndoe: (06:36)
Yeah. I mean it was just because I had spent most of my time in those communities arguing with people. There was Homecoming and I got voted most likely to go to jail. I’m not even kidding, most likely to go to jail, Peter McIndoe.

Speaker 1: (06:52)
McIndoe stayed out of jail and enrolled at the University of Arkansas with no intent to hatch Birds Aren’t Real. The idea was an accident. The day after president Trump’s inauguration in 2017, McIndoe was hanging out with friends in Memphis on the roof of a building, when they heard demonstrators in the streets below.

Peter McIndoe: (07:13)
I remember thinking it would be very interesting if someone was in this situation with a sign that had nothing to do with anything that’s going on here.

Speaker 1: (07:20)
And so how did you get to Birds Aren’t Real as the thing that’s on the sign.

Peter McIndoe: (07:25)
I don’t even know. It was just the most absurd thing I could think of.

Peter McIndoe: (07:28)
I’m angry and I’m here to protest.

Speaker 1: (07:31)
Sign in hand, he took to the streets of Memphis, ad-libing a stream of absurdities.

Peter McIndoe: (07:37)
Wake up America. Birds are not real, they’re a myth, they’re an illusion. Thank you for your time.

Speaker 1: (07:41)
His friends, Lauren Castelle, Ally Perkins and Jenny Bailey couldn’t believe what was coming out of Peter’s mouth.

Peter McIndoe: (07:49)
They’re not real. They’re fake. It’s just [inaudible 00:07:50] media.

Speaker 8: (07:51)
Peter just goes all out and he just starts like screaming like random stuff off the top of his head, just whatever he thought of in the moment.

Speaker 1: (07:58)
And it’s not scripted.

Speaker 8: (07:59)

Speaker 1: (07:59)
He’s just 100% improvising this moment.

Speaker 8: (08:02)
Yeah. He’s like, “Birds aren’t real. They’re a lie.” And just whatever would come up to his head, he’d say it.

Speaker 11: (08:07)
It was just incredible how he created this whole character and personality off the bat. Like his [inaudible 00:08:13]. .

Speaker 10: (08:12)
So quickly. Yeah. It is impressive. We’re like, “Okay, where did this come from?”

Peter McIndoe: (08:16)
There is a pandemic happening.

Speaker 1: (08:18)
Peter’s friend, Allie, innocently posted a video of that day online and then everything changed.

Peter McIndoe: (08:25)
Birds are not real.

Peter McIndoe: (08:26)
So I’m getting pictures sent to me if Birds Aren’t Real graffiti and birds aren’t on chalkboards and seeing chants in cafeterias and stadiums like, “Birds aren’t real.” At high schools.

Speaker 1: (08:39)
Did you think at that point, like this is awesome or what have I done?

Peter McIndoe: (08:43)
I remember being fascinated by it. I remember thinking, “Okay, why do people identify with this so much?” And just thinking like there was this energy in Memphis for this idea and that I would always regret it if I didn’t lean into that.

Speaker 1: (08:58)
What did your parents think when you said, “I’m dropping out of college? I’m moving to Memphis-

Peter McIndoe: (09:04)

Speaker 1: (09:04)
… to start a fake conspiracy theory”?

Peter McIndoe: (09:08)
Yeah. I mean, it was really interesting. I was trying to describe to them it could be a very interesting art project, sort of like a mirror to seemingly exponentially growing absurdity of the world in America. And like if we can match that with a character in a living world, blah, blah, blah. And they’re just looking at me like, “Please stick with the psychology degree.”

Speaker 1: (09:27)
McIndoe enlisted his friend Connor Gaydos, a history buff, to write a backstory for The Birds movement.

Connor Gaydos: (09:34)
The CIA was so sick and tired of the birds pooping on their windshields, so they’re like, “We’re sick of this. We’re fed up with this. Let’s hire engineers to get rid of these stupid birds. And while we’re at it, let’s replace them with robots and spy on people.” So it’s a joke.

Connor Gaydos: (09:48)
Please remember, stay calm.

Speaker 1: (09:50)
But then they took the story a step further. Every conspiracy needs a deep state whistleblower.

Eugene Price: (09:56)
Well, I saw some things that I really wish I hadn’t seen.

Peter McIndoe: (10:00)
Are you referring to Bird Drone Surveillance?

Eugene Price: (10:05)

Speaker 1: (10:05)
McIndoe invented and interviewed a character called Eugene Price. Price is supposed to be a former CIA officer who buried evidence of the bird genocide and the rise of the drones.

Speaker 1: (10:18)
When you were hiring an actor to play Eugene Price, what were you looking for in that actor?

Peter McIndoe: (10:24)
The oldest man I could find. I was looking for someone who looked like they had just had some guilt weighing down on them for years. I really wanted bugs under the eyes, sleepless nights. We released a video titled The Confession Of Eugene Price, where he, and for the first time ever on record an ex CIA agent came out and said everything that the government had done.

Peter McIndoe: (10:46)
Did you keep anything?

Eugene Price: (10:47)

Speaker 1: (10:48)
That video got over 10 million views on TikTok.

Speaker 1: (10:53)
Are there people who believe that birds aren’t real.

Connor Gaydos: (10:56)
I’ve ironically met people who go, “Oh, I know.” And they’ll act like they’ve already known-

Speaker 1: (11:00)
That birds aren’t real?

Connor Gaydos: (11:01)
Yeah. They’ll be like, “Oh, I know. I know it’s going on. The CIA, they’ve been doing that.”

Speaker 1: (11:05)
But the gag is apparent for all to see in McIndoe’s beat up van that he bought for $2,000.

Peter McIndoe: (11:11)
This is our chariot.

Speaker 1: (11:13)

Peter McIndoe: (11:13)
This is our loyal Duchess. Takes us wherever we need to go.

Speaker 1: (11:17)
Super understated, right?

Peter McIndoe: (11:19)
Yeah. It’s a little low-key.

Speaker 1: (11:21)

Speaker 1: (11:21)
Black and white and crazy all over, it’s a mobile manifesto, calling pigeons liars and claiming birds charge on power lines.

Peter McIndoe: (11:31)
The government has sold the public on this lie of power lines or, oh, you’re talking to people through these wires, telephone wires, when really they put up polls and wires for drones to sit on and charge.

Speaker 1: (11:46)
We followed Peter McIndoe in his van as he tried to spread the feathered gospel on the streets of Orange County, California.

Peter McIndoe: (11:55)
I’m part of a movement that believes every bird is a government surveillance drone.

Speaker 1: (11:59)
One person thought he should seek help.

Speaker 14: (12:01)
Maybe you should see somebody.

Speaker 1: (12:03)
Another wanted to pray for him.

Speaker 15: (12:06)
Lord, thank you so much for Pete. I thank you for his heart.

Peter McIndoe: (12:08)
Just know you’re being watched.

Speaker 16: (12:10)
For what reason?

Peter McIndoe: (12:11)
For what reason?

Speaker 16: (12:12)
Yeah. Why are they watching me?

Peter McIndoe: (12:13)
They want mass control. So you’re woke.

Speaker 1: (12:15)
Remarkably. Most of the under 40 crowd was in on the joke.

Speaker 17: (12:19)
Bro, I’m tired of those birds sitting on the power lines and [inaudible 00:12:22] our power. Am I right?

Speaker 1: (12:23)
How do you make a living doing this?

Peter McIndoe: (12:25)
Barely. We have shirts on our website.

Speaker 1: (12:29)
Do you think you’ll have to rely on T-shirt sales forever?

Peter McIndoe: (12:32)
No. Everyone’s reached out to us about books and movies, which has been interesting, because the idea’s never been packaged into something like that.

Speaker 1: (12:41)
McIndoe says more than a million people now call themselves bird truthers. They’ve flocked rallies around the country. In front of Twitter’s headquarters, they demanded the company drop its bird logo.

Peter McIndoe: (12:53)
[inaudible 00:12:53] to brainwash you.

Speaker 1: (12:56)
And in St. Louis.

Protesters: (12:58)
Bird aren’t real.

Speaker 1: (12:59)
McIndoe brazenly burned a Cardinals flag in the shadow of the Arch.

Protesters: (13:03)
Birds aren’t real.

Peter McIndoe: (13:03)

Protesters: (13:06)
Birds aren’t real.

Speaker 1: (13:06)
In an age of outrage. Peter McIndoe is hoping to drown out the chorus of crazy in this country with a little crazy of his own.

Protesters: (13:15)
Birds aren’t real. Birds aren’t real.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.