A film about conspiracy theorists rather than a conspiracy theory film. Ruby Ridge is about the infamous anti-government family that holed themselves up at Ruby Ridge in a stand off with the Feds. What I like about this film is how it shows a particular overlap of societal influences that create a particularly American flavor of politics that doesn’t fit categories found elsewhere, having facets of both the liberal counter-culture and right wing conservatism.
Interviewed now, the Ruby Ridge family look like rural American conservatives, the father is interviewed in a diner full of Stetsons and cigarette smoke and the sweet natured, feminine looking, daughter speaks to us from a field, while firing off rounds from a twelve bore. This is Doris Day’s Calamity Jane rather than Jane Fonda.
In America, conspiracy theorists tend to be pro-gun, anti-government and anti-socialism. Rejection of government is ironically coupled by embracing certain cultural traits which are a result of the history of the American government, such as enshrined justification of armed protection of personal territory and fear of communism. In Europe the situation is the opposite, the rejection of the ruling class due to the exploitation of ordinary people as cannon fodder in WWI and the evils of extreme right wing government in WWII mean that people tend to view a socialist welfare state as sacrosanct, and weapons with suspicion.
In the 1930s, large scale economic chaos created the environment for the paranoia of the few to spread into the mainstream, in places like Germany. If America were ever in danger of suffering the same fate, its inner demons could be the same as those that are currently manifested in a tiny minority of paranoid people. In fact, the natural amplification of primal instinct on the web, means that conspiracy theorist nonsense has a worryingly large audience. The film Zeitgeist, has a larger audience than 60 minutes, it is the equivalent of Mein Kampf for the YouTube generation. Since rejection of society is amplified by the size of the country and the distance from people making decisions about their lives (creating a demonization of Federal over State taxes, for example), any kind of mass hysteria in the US is likely to take the form of libertarianism. .
There is a lot to learn about the people from Ruby Ridge, they are people who represent what can happen when the intrinsic, inner psychological fears of a society are amplified.