Is Lady Gaga a Satanist Illuminati Slave? Bizarre Pop Music Conspiracy Theories

Arts, entertainment, and more.
Nov. 21 2011 7:24 AM

Is Lady Gaga a Satanist Illuminati Slave?

Pop-music’s strangest conspiracy theories.

Is Jay-Z an Illuminati puppet?

Photograph by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images.

I’m not sure if Eminem has yet managed to escape the grasp of the Illuminati—the secret society of string pullers whose ranks he joined years ago in exchange for wealth, fame, and power—but I know he’s been trying very hard. Numerous people online tell me so. There is, for starters, a Yahoo Answers page that poses the question “Is Eminem trying to break free from the Illuminati?” and offers spirited excavation and analysis of the hidden anti-Illuminati messages Eminem embedded in his song “Not Afraid.” There is a four-page message-board thread titled “Is Eminem an Illuminati slave?” A YouTube video called “Eminem vs. Illuminati” explains, via solemn text and creepy music, that when the Detroit M.C. titled a song “Cinderella Man,” it was not because the redemptive plot of the 2005 Ron Howard film Cinderella Man echoes Eminem’s own comeback from drug addiction, but rather because, like Cinderella with her wicked stepsisters, Eminem was “forced to do the chores for the Illuminati by sending subliminal messages through his music.” Ignore any comment-section sheep who bah that this is ridiculous: When that video ends, the hunt for truth has only just begun. From a list of suggested related videos, you can choose “Eminem: His illuminati sacrifice Part 1”; “Eminem Fights Back Against The illuminati”; “Eminem against illuminati 2011!”; “Eminem My Darling Illuminati” and on and on. Some of the Eminem/Illuminati videos have been viewed 5,000 times. Others, close to 300,000.

Welcome to the world of pop-music trutherism, a bustling, grassroots exposé industry in which Eminem is one of many performers called out by anonymous instigators for Illuminist sympathies. The best conspiracy theories go all the way to the top, and this one goes all the way to the top of the charts. Jay-Z? An “Illuminati puppet.” Lady Gaga? An “Illuminati whore.” Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Beyoncé, Rihanna—Illuminati agents all. (Michael Jackson and 2Pac, it turns out, were victims of Illuminati-ordered assassination.) The Illuminati investigation unfolds sloppily but vigorously across countless sites, from YouTube to Twitter to fan discussion boards to dedicated shops like The trained eye can spot Illuminati sartorial choices, like goat-themed jewelry and T-shirts, worn in ostensible tribute to Baphomet, a horned pagan deity who intrigued Aleister Crowley. There is Illuminati semaphore, such as framing one’s eye with the palms tipped together in a pyramid shape or otherwise isolating an eye to evoke the “all-seeing eye” on the back of a dollar bill, an image with Masonic origins. There are Illuminati lyrics, like Eminem’s mention of a “New World Order” on “Lose Yourself” or the references he and Jay-Z have made, separately, to a mysterious, powerful figure they call the “Rain Man” (the theorists are apparently unfamiliar with Dustin Hoffman’s IMDb page).

Spend some time sifting through this stuff and your eyes will roll so far back into your skull you’ll look like you’ve been possessed by Baphomet. The theorists’ “revelations” are presented, variously, in portentous tones and with exclamation-point-riddled urgency: The Illuminati, intent on global domination, treat pop music as a powerful mind-control weapon, weaving secret messages and dark imagery into hits and videos;  there is much inveighing that we “wake up” to the “brainwashing.” The Illuminati truthers make 9/11 truthers seem as rigorous and compelling as Woodward and Bernstein on Watergate. The evidence they haul out boils down to little more than far-fetched, oblivious misreads (i.e. Eminem and Cinderella), a stunning allergy to the possibility of metaphor (Lil Wayne rapped that he sold his soul to the devil—smoking gun!), and a hysterical attitude toward occult imagery befitting Ned Flanders. With so many voices chiming in, and with so many of them doing so anonymously, it’s hard to say which of the “theorists” are just having a laugh, but the most prominent—like Vigilant Citizen or the Philadelphia morning-radio host Miss Jones, who grilled 50 Cent at some length about secret-society infiltration in hip-hop—communicate total earnestness. 


The Illuminati-in-pop meme has tremendous traction. References to the secret society began popping up in hip-hop songs back in the early ’90s, but with the rise of broadband Internet, Illuminati conspiracies have enjoyed the same steroidal super-boost as pornography and cat photography. The theorists occupy music’s margins, and yet their message has splashed into mainstream waters. In late 2009, a CNN reporter saw fit to ask Lady Gaga to address the Illuminati rumors (she balked at the question). Rihanna mockingly acknowledged accusations of Illuminati entanglement in her “S&M” video. (Fake headlines flash onscreen describing her as a “Princess of the Illuminati.”) And on a 2011 song with Rick Ross (who may also be under Illuminati control), Jay-Z dedicated a verse to denying his membership in the Freemasons: “I said I was amazing, not that I’m a Mason.”

Who are the Illuminati, and why are so many pop-music observers obsessed with them? The Illuminati were an actual group, founded in Bavaria in the late 18th century by a philosopher and law professor named Adam Weishaupt. In The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte, the historian Frederick C. Beiser describes the Illuminati as “a secret society devoted to the cause of political reform and Aufklärung”— the German Enlightenment. In Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition, the author Glen Alexander Magee notes that the group was marked by its “opposition to traditional religion, superstition, and feudalism” and its “advocacy of scientific rationalism and the rights of man.” It is hard to say precisely why the Illuminati became wedded in the paranoid mind with devil worship, but seeming reasons include Weishaupt’s anticlerical streak and a popular “history” of Freemasonry written in the late 19th century by Frenchman Léo Taxil, who purported to expose Masons’ Satanic rituals. (Taxil later revealed that his “journalism” was actually a satirical hoax.) The melding of secret societies and occultism persists today, of course, in pop-cultural representations of creepy, chamber-congregating Skull and Bones members or masked, orgy-prone captains of industry in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

Weishaupt’s Illuminati ran afoul of Bavarian Elector Karl Theodor, who caught the seditious wind and issued a decree in 1784, Magee writes, “commanding them to disband.” Born as a reformist bogeyman opposed to, and ultimately snuffed out by, entrenched power, the Illuminati went under in 1787, but it has lived on in the conservative imagination. In a 1995 New Yorker article about the rise of conspiracy theories in America, Michael Kelly mentions the Illuminati as major phantasms in the so-called New World Order theory, the basics of which were laid out in, among other places, the John Birch Society’s 1958 Blue Book. (The Order of the Illuminati figures centrally into the Rev. Pat Robertson’s 1991 book, The New World Order, too.) In the New World Order theory, Kelly writes, the Illuminati are just one link in the nefarious chain of “secret and semisecret societies arcing across time and cultures” from “early-Christian-era agnostics,” through the Freemasons, to “twentieth century schemers.” The perceived goal of shadow puppeteers such as the Illuminati is “to destroy the established Christian order of Western nations and replace it with an atheistic, socialistic global government.”



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Photos of the Crowds That Took Over NYC for the People’s Climate March

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
Business Insider
Sept. 22 2014 9:39 AM Adrian Peterson Has a Terrible Contract, and Cutting Him Would Save the Vikings a Lot of Money
The Eye
Sept. 22 2014 9:12 AM What Is This Singaporean Road Sign Trying to Tell Us?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 7:47 AM Predicting the Future for the U.S. Government The strange but satisfying work of creating the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 5:30 AM MAVEN Arrives at Mars
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.