Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

Folk Studies and Anthropology

Document Type



The term “conspiracy theorist” is often used in discussions as a rhetorical device to discredit a speaker on the basis of their opinions. The effect of this has been to turn attention away from the speaker’s stated opinions towards the speaker himself and his character as a “conspiracy theorist.” These negative connotations are recognized and understood by many thanks to archetypes of the “conspiracy theorist” character found in popular media, making the accusation an effective tool for muting the “conspiracy theorist’s” opinion in mainstream public forums, whether that forum is the news, politics, or real life. This paper examines stereotypical depictions of “conspiracy theorists” in several forms of popular fictional media, especially the movie Slacker (1992) and the X-Files television franchise (1993-2002), and non-fictional media, such as news programs and internet forums, to reveal how these depictions reflect and construct various components of the “conspiracy theorist” label which make it such an effective rhetorical tool for muting certain ideas.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Anthony Harkins


Digital Humanities | Film and Media Studies