Farewell, Art Bell
By Bill Morgan
March 12, 2005
Art Bell has left the building. He could not have shot himself in the foot more certainly than by declaring that ALL those who adhere to ANY 911-conspiracy theory are "wingnuts" (i.e. whackos). What credibility he ever had collapsed with those recent statements and his propagandistic declaration the government's version of the events of September 11 is 100% correct. Farewell, Art. A good portion of your audience is now leaving the building, too.
I am sure there are millions like me, who continue to have a certain fondness for Bell due to many memories of wild and crazy shows enjoyed in the past, both of the informative nature and the signature Art Bell "Wingnut" variety. It was good entertainment, and many of us gave him a lot of leeway simply because he entertained us with wild, weird and wooly things. Was he an "operative" of some kind? Who cared? It was great science fiction most of the time.
But 911 sliced through everything, and at this point it seems that what a person knows and says about 911 is a now measure of that person...and a measure of their intelligence. The vast, stupid majority (as always) accepts whatever it is told and that becomes its firmly entrenched belief. Others have questions and doubts, and by virtue of position or job or family are obliged to uphold, outwardly, the official line. Still others smell a big fat rat, and many have spent years studying every detail of 911 and assembling knowledge, details and facts. Art Bell has either not done any of the latter or he has been quietly told what to espouse. Who knows? Does it matter? In any case, his recent comments about 911 conspiracies and this new feud with Jeff Rense is probably the last straw for a lot of us.
Art has openly, formally proclaimed himself to be on the side of the powers that be. He is anti-investigation. He is completely unscientific. He has drawn a 911 line in the sand and firmly taken a stand on one side of it. For Art, there is no debate and no questions remaining to be answered. Such a stance completely undermines the very "character" he took decades to develop and is contradictory to what we thought he was. One wonders why he would cast aside a persona which took years to create and which made him world famous.
We originally thought Art Bell was the one who asked forbidden questions about hidden things, and investigated mysteries with guests who were often investigators themselves. We thought he was...at the least...open-minded, since he allowed all kinds of crazies to come on and talk to the nation about weird and nutty stuff. Like all radio, however, it was essentially just entertainment. And some of the wacky stuff actually filled a real need people have for novelty - because life, as it is, is sometimes boring. Art explored the "fringe," and there actually are some very interesting ideas out there. And guests like Micho Kaku blew our minds with some of the farthest-out ideas of all..
However, the current situation regarding Art Bell seems to illustrate the axiom that "by 911 shall you be known." Clearly, it was one of the great conspiracies of all time - it is also a vast puzzle. And one's progress in grasping the vastness of ths real-life puzzle is a measure of one's intelligence...and wisdom. It takes time, effort, thought and work to solve a puzzle, so most people - feeling they already have enough problems - just ignore it altogether. Is this Bell's position? It wouldn't seem so, since his persona was built on presenting, investigating and trying to answer things in hidden and mysterious areas. Is Bell then hereby casting off his original public self like a tattered old coat? In the dissonance between the persona of Art Bell and his recent statements, one sees yet another set of illusions dissolve before one's eyes. We bought into the Bell persona, we must now suffer the disillusion.
The feud with Rense is also very unfortunate, but let's face it, people (the "fans") love feuds. To the feuders it may be unpleasant, but the onlookers love it. So again, it all comes out as good enterainment as far as listeners and readers go. (Does this indicate some deeper flaw in the collective unconscious, this delight in fighting?)
Then Bell played the "anti-semitic" card on Rense, and at that point I had to bail out on Bell. Any intelligent person familiar with Rense.com knows that allegation is absurd. Bell's attack is the equivalent of someone saying someone else is not to be believed because he/she is a "nigger." If Bell is reduced to this level of argument, then there isn't much else to say but "farewell, Bell, I hardly knew ya."
And then Art Bell invited millions of us to tune out...and millions will. Oh sure, we'll follow some of the shenanigans as (yes) more entertainment, but I accept Art's invitation to leave..
It feels oddly like the closing of an era, which means, I guess, the beginning of a whole new era. Art has put millions in the position of children within whom it is suddenly dawning that Santa Claus is a made-up story and completely unreal. In the long run, it's no big deal. And it has been a good, long run, as circuses go. Indeed, Art was a master at it, beyond even P.T. Barnum. And in the end, I have to say, "good show."
Heroes rise and fall, but they are but dreams and illusions of the masses - no more real after they have gone than they were before they appeared. Art had a good run and popularized a whole new genre of entertainment: "weird" radio, or whatever it is that he did for so long. I guess one could say Bell's star has long crossed its zenith, and it doesn't matter much any more what he says. To adamantly asssert that the official version of 911 is 100% correct is to declare oneself ignorant. And to advise all those listeners who disagree to tune out is career suicide.
-- Bill Morgan
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