Skeptoid PodcastSkeptoid on Facebook   Skeptoid on Twitter   Skeptoid on Stitcher   iTunes   Google Play

Members Portal

Store

 

Get a Free Book

 

SKEPTOID BLOG:

Is Alex Jones Actually Bill Hicks?

by Mike Rothschild

March 3, 2015

Share Tweet Reddit

Donate February 26th marked the 21st anniversary of the untimely death of comedian, writer and social critic Bill Hicks. If you're not familiar with the late stand-up's work, just go to YouTube, search for his name and be prepared to lose several days of your life. Just as a warning, much of Hicks' material was extremely vulgar, and pretty much everything he does should be considered extremely not safe for work or for religious conservatives.

Hicks ruthlessly skewered consumerism, popular culture, anti-intellectualism, politics and the hypocrisy of religious figures telling you to do one thing while they do the opposite - all before his untimely death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. While Hicks was unabashed in his disgust for the plasticity of modern entertainment, the faux-jingoism of the Gulf War and the moralistic meddling of social conservatives, he was also something of a conspiracy theorist.

He regularly went off on stage about the "official story" behind the JFK assassination (he claimed the reconstruction of the Texas Book Depository was accurate because Lee Harvey Oswald isn't in it), as well as making allusions to government mind control, CIA plots, and the botched raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. So it's only fair that Hicks himself be embroiled in one last conspiracy theory, twenty years after his death — that he didn't die at all, but faked his cancer and re-emerged some time later under a new persona: conspiracy theorist and Infowars head Alex Jones.

While the vast majority of "so and so is ACTUALLY so and so" theories are obviously nonsensical, the idea that Hicks might have reinvented himself as Alex Jones has a few aspects going for it that at least give us pause before we toss it in the trash.

- Hicks and Jones both spent their formative years in Texas, with Hicks' family moving there when he was seven and Jones born in Dallas.
- Both share a penchant for exposing perceived government plots, conspiracies and false "official stories."
- They have similar facial features, with ruddy cheeks, high foreheads, drooping eyes and near-identical teeth.
- While Hicks would be 53 in 2015, and Jones is 41, Jones looks older than he is.
- Hicks died in 1994, and Jones first appeared on the scene just a few years later, becoming a local favorite as a radio talk show host in Austin in 1996. Additionally, they both spent a large amount of time talking about the Waco incident, with Jones campaigning to get the Branch Davidian church rebuilt.
- The two never appear to have met, but share a connection in Hicks' childhood friend and collaborator Kevin Booth, who would go on to become a cameraman for Jones.

So did Hicks and Booth cook up a plan to fake Hicks' death and reinvent himself as Alex Jones? And more importantly, why?

The idea of Bill Hicks faking his death and returning as Alex Jones is one of those things that it's hard to pin down an origin point for. It probably was born on a message board or usenet thread in the late 90's when someone noticed their physical similarities and shared belief in conspiracies. After all, plenty of other celebrities are thought to have faked their death — why not one more?

It first shows up as a blip on Google Trends in October 2011, then spikes in November, 2014, when a 30-minute YouTube video called "IRREFUTABLE PROOF that Alex Jones is Bill Hicks" went semi-viral. The video goes into great detail about how Hicks was recruited by the CIA and brainwashed to become a disinfo agent, spewing increasingly violent and ludicrous rhetoric that would actually drive people away from the conspiracy theories they were espousing (which, of course, are all true.) Since Hicks still has a cult following, the video got a fair amount of coverage online, almost all of which ridiculed it for its strident tone and the complete lack of evidence for what it purports.

But things like a lack of evidence and being ridiculed have never stopped a conspiracy believer — and indeed, just because something seems like a delusion doesn't necessarily mean it is. But the Hicks/Jones believers have a difficult burden of proof on their hands — one that can't be overcome with the usual pictures with circles around them and cries of fakery.

It's true that Jones was getting his start right around the time Hicks died. But there's a reason for this: Jones graduated high school in 1993, and Hicks died a year later. Both Hicks' and Jones' parents are real people, who have been in the public eye at some point. Bill's mother Mary appeared on David Letterman as late as 2009, and Jones' father is still a practicing dentist in Dallas. Is he an actor? If so, it's a hell of a performance. Jones' birth record is available online, as are numerous pictures of him from childhood, high school and the beginning of his career, where he cut his teeth in public access TV. All of this was going on while Bill Hicks was still alive.

While a believer would say all of that was just part of a faked profile, it takes more than accusations of something being fake to actually prove something is a fake. Random circles and arrows on a picture just don't cut it. And why bother? What's the point of the deception? And that's the biggest issue I have with the Hicks/Jones conspiracy: it doesn't really have a point.

Hicks was only 32 at the time of his death, but had been performing in comedy clubs half his life. He'd been on Letterman over a dozen times, had released two albums, opened for the band Tool, toured the US extensively and was a major star in England. He'd sold a show to the UK's Channel 4, and had already shot a pilot. He was on his way to becoming, if not an A-lister (his material was too challenging and vulgar to get him the lead in something like a network sitcom) then at least a well-established performer with a cult following, who could have eventually transitioned into acting and writing full time.

So why would he fake his death? What would he have gotten out of it? The chance to become someone new? If he'd wanted to take his work to the radio, he could have just done it without inventing "Alex Jones" as a fake persona. And if he faked his death for other purposes, to protect himself, let's say, why come right back into the public eye — looking almost the same and saying things that were MORE inflammatory?

Beyond the lack of reason behind it, Jones and Hicks are very different in their beliefs and approach to espousing them. Hicks was a conspiracy theorist, true, but he was also a humanist who genuinely sought to find a higher truth in his comedy. He had little of the unhinged paranoia about the police state and New World Order that Jones displays in his videos and radio show. Jones is also a vocal Christian, and Hicks had little use for religion (while Jones, at the same time, believes organized religion is a tool of the global elite.) It's also hard to believe that the same Bill Hicks who often said that anyone in marketing or advertising should kill themselves would have any tolerance for the endless stream of ads that funds the Alex Jones media empire.

So is Alex Jones actually Bill Hicks after a little surgery? Sure, I can't prove he's not. But I don't have to. It falls to those who believe it to prove it. And so far, nobody has.

by Mike Rothschild

Share Tweet Reddit

@Skeptoid Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit

 

 

 

Donate