In the aftermath of yesterday's tragic events in Boston, what appeared to be a chillingly prescient clip from a month-old Family Guy episode circulated around the internet. The video is a doctored composite of two scenes from the episode "Turban Cowboy," and plays off Family Guy's trademark flashback method of telling jokes to suggest that lead character Peter Griffin detonated a bomb at the Boston Marathon.
While the joke is crude and tasteless, it wouldn't be unexpected for a show that frequently pushes the boundaries of what's acceptable. But the next controversy was extreme, even for Family Guy: conspiracy theorists linked the fake clip to the attacks on the Boston Marathon, which they suggested was a government-orchestrated attack.
As the AP reports, the clip actually splices two separate scenes from one episode together, giving the impression that the plot involved explosions at the Boston Marathon. Instead, the marathon scene featured Peter running over participants in his car, and the bombings were part of a separate thread where a terrorist blew up a bridge.
Fox has removed the episode from its website and Hulu, and it's easy to see why — the episode was already crass, and yesterday's tragedy casts it in a whole new light. But knowing how the clip came together would seem to absolve Family Guy of "predicting" the attack; creator Seth McFarlane spoke out to call the video "abhorrent."
But the video has made the rounds on areas of the internet looking to establish the "truth" behind the Boston bombings. As he frequently does following major events, controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars was quick to cast aspersions over the attacks, saying the incident "stinks to high heaven."
"Is this another false flag staged attack?"
In a further video, Jones argues that arrangements for a controlled explosion drill around the marathon suggest a government cover-up planned in the event that something went wrong. InfoWars radio host Dan Bidondi attended a Boston Police Department press conference and asked "Is this another false flag staged attack to take our civil liberties and promote homeland security while sticking their hands down our pants on the streets?" Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick replied "No."
Jones made the connection to Family Guy when he tweeted an InfoWars article titled "Family Guy Episode Predicted Boston Marathon Attack." When YouTube pulled the clip, InfoWars updated the article to state that the video "is not a hoax" and that its removal is designed to censor "your right to merely talk about it."
Despite widespread criticism of Jones' commentary on the incident, however, he remains undeterred. "Seth MacFarlane created a cartoon which made fun of terrorist bombings and depicted mutilated Boston Marathon runners," he wrote on Twitter. "Yet he is labeling people who merely talk about the episode as 'abhorrent.'"