|Jim Bakker's Food Pyramid|
We can assume Alex Jones and Jim Bakker aren't as stupid as they look. They are successfully using tragedies to promote their own products -- a tried and true method for Evangelists for decades. But, it really takes the cake when you use a film as ludicrous as Geostorm to promote a theory that Irma may be government engineered. Even more amazing is that Media Matters devotes time to Jones' half-baked conspiracy theories.
For a guy who is constantly urging his viewers to buy his products to keep his show on television, it is amazing how much money Alex Jones has managed to sock away. His Infowars is valued at $75 million by the Worth of Web Calculator. Of course that's pretty small potatoes compared to Trump, but it really makes you wonder just how gullible many Americans are?
Jim Bakker has been hawking Doomsday Survivor Kits for quite a while now, so using Irma to give his business a boost should come as no surprise. He looks slightly more respectable with his white hair, as if he might have come face to face with the burning bush himself, but it is probably as fake as everything else concerning his television ministry.
These Evangelist hawkers have been around for quite sometime. I grew up with Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell and Oral Roberts on the television set. They would come on every Sunday morning, trying to take advantage of Christians too lazy to go to church. Not that my mother was a big fan of these TV ministers, but she did have a soft spot for Oral Roberts. My dad placed them on the same level as WWE wrestlers.
Surprisingly, Uncle Pat is still around, although he has been eclipsed by younger more dynamic ministers like Joel Osteen, who found himself in a bit of hot water over Harvey. Osteen has become the TV minister Evangelists love to hate, but he is no more phony than the rest of them. Joel's sin was praising Obama his first months in office.
Evangelism is actually a very interesting branch of Christianity. There are any number of denominations preaching their own form of religion, not beholden to any doctrine other than their unquestioning love of Jesus. As such, you have very liberal as well as very conservative Evangelical churches, but you would never know it to see the hucksters on television. They learned a long time ago that what viewers want to hear are fire and brimstone sermons, using the flames of hell to stir followers and of course buy their products.
Alex Jones uses this very same method on his show, as John Oliver pointed out. Seems Donald Trump was also using Harvey to hawk his products, namely his $40 USA cap which you can buy at Walmart for $9.99. I'm sure he will have Melania's FLOTUS cap available soon, as it is very much in demand. Such mark-ups are not unusual as the product doubles as a donation to the church or cause, but most organizations are explicitly asking for donations and the cap or other item is a bonus for your generosity. Jones, Bakker and Trump appear to be simply hawking products at inflated prices.
You would think Internet-savvy buyers would shop around, but I guess they feel they are showing their loyalty to their favorite celebrities. This is pretty much what you see on Youtube with all sorts of "vloggers" peddling their products to gullible teens. I was forced into buying a TRXYE sweatshirt for my daughter, as that was what she wanted most for Christmas. Fortunately, it was delivered as promised. It's a great business and now she is trying to make a brand for herself.
Of course, Trump is the master of this. He values his name brand at a staggering $5 billion. Now that he is President it is probably worth ten times that amount in his mind.
It is at the grass roots where this is most bothersome, as Jones, Bakker and other hucksters are preying on the weak and the weary to buy into their conspiracy theories and the Apocalypse to purchase their products. Their goods don't come cheap. Fear is their principal motivating force and pensioners seem particularly susceptible to it.
There no longer appears to be any truth in advertising. The Federal Trade Commission doesn't have the manpower to rein in all these hucksters, as they sprout up like mushrooms on the Internet. Facebook claims it will crack down on false advertising, as have other social media outlets, but that's a pretty tall order given how many subscribers these networks have.
Internet sellers pay to plug their products directly on facebook timelines, and are able to get your user information to boot. Judging from the items I've seen advertised, they even know my birth year and other personal information, which they appear to have extrapolated from my posts as I don't have that information directly available. I am unable to fully block the ads. This is even more bothersome.
I can only hope Alex and Jim don't weasel into my timeline, but I suppose it is only matter of time given I have "friends" who post information from their websites. What a tangled web we weave!