REM, the Fake Moon, and the Flat Earth

In this article I will suggest that Michael Stipe of the band R.E.M. has embedded clues in his music, and in related music videos, indicating a belief in the Flat Earth conspiracy theory, long before it was cool. This includes the idea that we live in an artificial, controlled and domed environment, on a flat disc, with an artificial sun and moon. (To understand more about that, viewed through a mythic and archetypal lens, read my previous article.) I also suggest the possibility that someone has orchestrated it so that at least two films featuring the actor Jim Carrey contain hints indicating this as well. Why R.E.M.? Why Jim Carrey? I don’t know.

My realization came to me after pondering the title of the Jim Carrey film Man on the Moon, which is named after the R.E.M. song of the same name, the chorus of which goes:

If you believe they put a man on the Moon
If you believe there’s nothing up his sleeve, then nothing is cool.

The context of the song definitely seems to be casting doubt on the authenticity of the NASA Apollo missions. The lyrics also mention Isaac Newton (whose theory of gravity, rejected by flat-Earthers, was necessary to explain certain holes in the heliocentric model of the “solar system,” and Charles Darwin, another hero of modern science whose theories are presently considered unquestionable by the educated classes. Then it says: “Here’s a little agit for the never-believer,” as in “agit-prop” or “agitation propaganda,” subversive material meant to stir up anti-authoritarian sentiment.

The song first appeared on their 1992 album Automatic for the People, and was only later used as the basis for the title of the film about Andy Kaufman (as well as for the film’s soundtrack). The song mentions Kaufman, and is supposedly about him, but from the lyrics it is unclear what it really has to do with him. It seems that Kaufman is being used as a symbol for the hoax of the moon landing, since Kaufman was famous for comedic hoaxes, like pretending to be the performer Tony Clifton (a made-up character), and pretending to be a professional wrestler (professional wrestling itself being nothing but an ongoing hoax). This is why so many people thought it was a hoax when he died in 1984. Indeed, in 2014, two people, including his associate Bob Zmuda and a person claiming to be his daughter (later revealed to be an actress) both came forward stating that Kaufman had faked his death. Thus, it is possible that Stipe knew about the rumors regarding the Kaufman alleged “death hoax,” which would only strengthen his utility as a symbol of the moon landing hoax idea. There is no other explanation for why the song mentions the “Man on the Moon” (in a derisive, incredulous manner), or why the subsequent film was given that name. But the poster which was released for the movie clearly implies that the moon is artificial, showing Jim Carrey standing on a ladder (a “ladder to heaven”) in front of a fake-looking moon.



This is just an extension of the symbolism that was shown in the music video that went along with the original “Man on the Moon” song back in 1992. It shows Stipe walking through the desert, perhaps representing the Nevada desert where the Moon landing films were supposedly shot, according to the conspiracy theory. These are juxtaposed with hands holding photographs from the moon missions, and of other things in space. In one shot it looks like the person whose hand is holding the photo is comparing a picture of the moon surface to the desert sands in front of him (NASA personnel trying to decide if it is “close enough”).

An educational model of the solar system featuring the ball Earth with ball planets attached with rotating arms to mimic orbits is shown spinning around–part of an ongoing motif featuring model globes found in several of R.E.M.’s videos. We are also shown, at the opening of the video, a globe Earth model spinning around with pictures being projected onto it from off-screen. These same shots are also combined in the same frame with footage from Georges Méliès 1902 silent film A Trip to the Moon, featuring the moon with a goofy-looking face on it. Used in this context, it is a joke about the version of the moon NASA has sold to us being artificial. During the line “Newton got beaned by the apple good,” a ridicule of the story of Newton’s so-called “discovery of gravity” after an apple fell on his head, an apple is shown suspended in mid-air and spinning, just as Newtonian physics claims is happening to the Earth.

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Stipe walks through a rocky desert area resembling the alleged set of the Moon landing film hoax


More landscape resembling the alleged lunar surface


Scenes of the desert, and Stipe holding a snake, projected onto a globe


Model of the solar system


A spinning, floating apple


Photos of the lunar surface juxtaposed with images of the desert


Trying to decide if this desert looks moon-y enough


Film of Armstrong on the moon compared with the desert


The Meliers Moon. It’s all a big joke.


The original Meliers moon


The Earth shown as a composite of different photos. Indeed, all images of the Earth released by NASA are composites of various photos and art


More fake NASA images of space


A fake photo of a galaxy?

After showing all of the space photos juxtaposed with the desert, Stipe is seen climbing into a passing semi truck and then looking at photos that he’s holding out the window. The sequence of photos shows an eye closing and then opening again, wide. This is a message to the viewer to open his eyes, and decide for himself if the Moon landing was really filmed in the desert on Earth. Then we are shown a diner, where everyone is singing along to the lyrics. A woman sings “If you believe they put a man on the moon” while behind her a poster on the wall features a man in a space suit that looks like it’s from a science fiction movie. A sign on the wall in another shot declares: “There’s nothing in here worth your life,” a statement about the futility of living in an artificial reality.


A photo of a sun and a moving photo of an eye opening and closing


An open eye, telling you to use your powers of observation to ascertain the truth.


A Kaufman wrestling match superimposed on the desert, indicating that the Moon landing is a hoax


A poster in a diner shows a man in a space suit


There is nothing in here worth your life

It is noteworthy that the year before this movie came out, in 1998, Carrey also starred in a film about someone living in a world that is exactly like the flat Earth model proposed by conspiracy theorists today. In The Truman Show, Carrey plays a person who is unaware that his entire life is a nonstop reality show, and that the world he lives in is completely artificial, with a spotlight acting as a fake sun, and the director of the show orchestrating things from a fake moon above his head. His world is inside of a dome, which he discovers when he sails across the fake ocean until he reaches the wall of the enclosure. In the flat Earth model, we are actually inside of a dome, with an artificial moon and sun above, surrounded by a wall of ice that we think of as the continent of Antarctica.

R.E.M. also wrote another song supposedly about Andy Kaufman, just for the movie, called “The Great Beyond.” But there is literally nothing in the lyrics that seems to relate to Kaufman at all. Rather, they again appear to pertain to the idea of being trapped inside a fake reality, and the music video that was released to go along with it actually appears to reference the premise of The Truman Show. It shows R.E.M. trying to break out of an extra-dimensional “TV land” that they are trapped in. At one point this is shown on the screen of a TV set sitting on the counter at a locksmith shop, with a wall full of keys displayed as a backdrop: keys to the TV land enclosure. It’s all about being stuck behind a force-field, being observed by an unseen audience, and searching for answers “beyond” the invisible barrier. As it goes:

I’ve watched the stars fall silent from your eyes
All the sights that I have seen
I can’t believe that I believed
I wished that you could see there’s a new planet in the solar system.
There is nothing up my sleeve.


Stipe is literally stuck inside the TV in front of a wall of keys


Stipe realizes he is in TV land trapped behind a forcefield


R.E.M. pushes against the walls of their prison


Stipe smashes through the barrier with a mic stand

The lines about falling stars and “a new planet in the solar system” indicate that the songwriter’s concept of cosmology, learned in grade school, has collapsed. He “can’t believe” that he once believed the official story about the shape of the Earth and the nature of space, which contradicts what we can see with our own eyes. Once again we have the term “nothing up my sleeve,” earlier used in the song “the Man on the Moon” to refer to the subterfuge of a hoax, a magic act. Then later:

Sweetest dreams of you
I look into the stars
I look into the moon
I’m breaking through
I’m bending spoons
I’m keeping flowers in full bloom.
I’m looking for answers from the Great Beyond.

The lines about “bending spoons” could relate to The Matrix, another film about living in an artificial reality, which came out the same year as Man on the Moon(1999), exactly seven months earlier. In that movie, once the characters realize they are in a computer simulation, they are able to break the laws of physics and perform stunts like bending spoons, because they are now mentally “above” the arbitrary “rules” that govern the system they’re in. Stipe is here describing a similar feeling of supernatural power now that he realizes his world is fake. But he also expresses a desire to return to the “sleep” of the collective delusion, just as some characters in The Matrix choose to “take the blue pill” and retreat back into the comfort of the computer-generated fantasy:

Why can’t we just pantomime
Just close our eyes and dream sweet dreams

As he speaks these words, Stipe is wearing a T-Shirt for “Uncle Andy’s Funhouse,” a pilot TV show that Kaufman created. A funhouse, of course, has mirrors that distort the sizes of things, just as flat-Earthers believe that the size and the shape of the Earth has been distorted. In the show, Kaufman gives out an address where people can write to get a “magic screen, magic crayons, and magic decoder ring” that will allow them to decode the secret messages that he will be embedding in the show. “And they will be messages that I’m not allowed to say on nationwide TV, so you’re going to want that,” he says. At then end of the show, he gives “the words of wisdom for this week”: “Whatever is unknown is magnified.” He reveals this phrase written on a poster screen that he unfurls. Is he talking about the size of the “universe” outside of Earth, which, according to flat-Earthers, has been massively expanded by fake science to be unimaginably huge, and we all believe it because we can’t see it ourselves? He then tells the audience to “Be sure to go to your church or temple or favorite place of worship every week.”


Uncle Andy’s Address

Given these hints, we have to wonder if Andy was initiated into the mysteries of the flat Earth as well, and planning on telling people about it with cryptic clues embedded in a TV show that would be discernible only to members of his fan club.

Another detail worthy of note is that the Moon–shown glowing blue and grainy like old film–was featured as the sole image on the cover of R.E.M.’s Best of R.E.M. In Time collection that came out in October of 2003. The album contains songs from 1988-2003, but first songs presented are “Man on the Moon” and “The Great Beyond.”



So is there any indication that Michael Stipe believes in the flat Earth besides these songs purportedly relating to Andy Kaufman and the Jim Carrey movie about him? Yes, and these examples are even more revealing. The song “Stand” from 1989’s Green album seems to be a set of instructions for how to figure out the true nature of the geography that surrounds you, using your observation and common sense rather than what you have been taught in school. As the lyrics state:

Stand in the place where you live
Now face North
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven’t before

Now stand in the place where you work
Now face West
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t before

If you are confused, check with the sun
Carry a compass to help you along
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around

If wishes were trees the trees would be falling
Listen to reason, season is calling

The video for “Stand” opens with a child’s toy of the globe Earth spinning, and other objects dangling from it by chains. The sun and the moon? No, there are four of them. It is showing multiple objects orbiting the Earth, and they are flat discs.


The opening shot to Stand, with orbiting bodies shown as flat discs hanging from the globe on chains

The rest of the video features people dancing on top of a compass, in front of a projection screen showing maps, pictures of the ball Earth’s orbit and tilt, an image of a rocket about to take off, and another image of a rocket circumnavigating the globe Earth. At one point a bird’s eye view of the compass is superimposed upon an image of the flat horizon. Long shots of a road leading off into a flat horizon are shown several times. In one case, we see an image of flat water against a flat horizon behind the legs of a woman in a rocking chair sitting on a pier on the water’s edge. As she rocks downward, her foot lands flatly on the surface of the pier just as the words “You’re feet are going to be on the ground” are sung.


The flat horizon


Flat water, flat horizon, feet planted flatly on a flat surface

Then, we see a child drawing a circle in chalk around his legs. That same child is also seen walking across a flat platform, and across a flat plank, at key moments during the song. This boy also appears on the cover of the EP that was released of the single, drawing the circle around himself.


Dancing across the compass, the disc of the world, with the flat horizon superimposed in the background


In the background, a cartoon drawing of a man next to a globe


Illustration of the flight path of a rocket leaving Earth, which flat-Earthers believe is fake and never happens


Child drawing a circle around himself


Boy running across a platform


Boy hopping across a plank

The purpose of the boy walking across the plank and platform is to indicate a belief in the flatness of the Earth’s surface. He is drawing a circle around himself to mark his position, as we are instructed to do in the song. We are then shown images of a sundial, a geometrical compass, and someone using trigonometry to determine the distance between the Sun and the Earth.


A sundial


Geometrical compass



In another particularly telling sequence, we see an atlas open with a leaf placed inside of it, right next to the Panama Canal, and then the book is closed–as if to press the leaf flat–just as we hear “if wishes were trees, the trees would be falling.” This line in the song may refer to humanity’s “wishes” regarding space travel. In addition, what we are shown in video is a very pertinent clue. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914 with the purpose of aiding mercantile travel so that ships would not have to navigate around South America. Remember that in the flat Earth model, what we think of as the southern “hemisphere” is much larger than the northern (as it is on the outer ring of the disc, while the north is on the inside of the disc). Therefore, a massive cover-up is allegedly underway to hide the actual size of the southern continents and the actual distance between them. The listener is then implored to “listen to reason”: common sense. As the atlas closes, we see on the cover a close-up of an old-looking map showing a ship sailing in the sea. A hand is placed over the ship, indicating a cover-up of nautical information known by sailors for thousands of years is now afoot.


The leaf in the atlas


The cover of the atlas


A hand covers up the ship

According to Wikipedia, based on the booklet that came with 2003’s Best of compilation:

Singer Michael Stipe has said of the song’s origin that he and the other band members were discussing The Banana Splits, The Archies, The Monkees, and similar 1960s pop groups. “They threw these super bubblegummy songs at me, and I said, ‘I’ll raise you and see you one.’ And I wrote the most inane lyrics that I could possibly write. Now, it was a very intentional thing to do that. I really like most of those songs, in fact.” Guitarist Peter Buck described “Stand” as “without a doubt, […] the stupidest song we’ve ever written. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though”, comparing the song to “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen in terms of ‘stupid’ lyrical content

That, of course, is disinformation. The song’s meaning is actually very straightforward when looked at from the flat Earth theory perspective. The only thing that’s being made fun of in the video that goes with it is modern science. The song isn’t telling you the shape of the world. It is telling you to use your own eyes to see for yourself.

But there is another R.E.M. song about the flat Earth that is famously cryptic. However, the meaning only becomes clear once you realize that, at least since some time before 1989 (when “Stand” came out), there is evidence that Michael Stipe had a personal revelation about the shape of the Earth and mankind’s history of “space travel.” While the meaning of “Stand” was obscured by a syrupy pop tune, there is no doubt that “Losing My Religion” from 1991’s album Out of Time has a very serious and somber message, as does the strangely symbolic music video that was released to go with it.

The video starts out with a stark, empty room with almost no furniture in it except for the chair that Michael Stipe is sitting in, and only one window on an otherwise blank wall. The window appears almost like it is a painting. A glass pitcher full of milk is sitting on the window sill. Suddenly there is an Earthquake, and the pitcher falls to the floor, breaking and pouring milk all over. Then the music begins.

The video seems to show us Stipe and other band members, along with people that look to be from a previous age, perhaps the Renaissance, and they appear to be artisans. We are repeatedly shown a spotlight shining through the (otherwise 2-D-looking) window onto the interior wall, as though it was being used to mimic sunlight. Other characters dressed in elaborately ornate clothing appear to be posing for someone, with each shot showing them just as the spotlight (the artificial sun) is turned towards them from above, timed to go along with the line “that’s me in the spotlight.” The distance and perspective between objects in the room seems distorted, like in a funhouse mirror.


The spotlight acts as an artificial sun


One of the characters illuminated by the artificial spotlight sun

The lyrics are about Stipe coming to the startling realization that the world around him is not what he’s always thought, likening the loss of faith in modern science to a loss of religion. “Life is bigger,” meaning that the world is bigger–literally–than what we’ve been told, as the territory on a flat Earth model is much larger than on the ball model, thus the references in the opening lines to “lengths” and “distance.”

In the video, as Stipe sings these words, he’s shown walking in measured strides, and leaping from spot to spot. He also tells about the anguish of trying to explain this to another person who refuses to listen. “The lengths that I will go to” means, “Yes, I will actually measure the lengths between land masses myself, to see if they match the official story.” The line “The distance in your eyes” means “you’re not paying attention to what I am trying to explain to you about the actual distance between things in this world.” The words “I think I thought I saw you try, but that was just a dream” imply the message: “You’re too mentally lazy to even try to follow what I’m saying.”


A figure crucified on a tree

Stipe is also telling the audience very clearly that he is trying to communicate something important through symbols, without being too obscure, but without giving too much away so as to get in trouble with the powers that be for revealing the unspoken truth. This is why he repeatedly states:

Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough.

In the first set of lines he also follows “I’ve said too much” with the words “I set it up”: in other words, “I arranged for this song and video to communicate my message.” In another scene, just as he sings the lines “Every whisper, of every waking hour, I’m choosing my confessions,” one person is shown whispering into the ear of another person. Stipe is “confessing” something that is very uncool, if not dangerous, to admit in public.

The central action of the video appears to be a the Renaissance artisans (and some dressed like early 20th-century Russians) constructing metal-framed wings. It seems to represent the Greek myth of Daedalus building wings for his son Icarus. In the story, Daedalus constructs a labyrinth on the orders of King Minos to imprison the monster called the Minotaur. But then Minos turns on Daedalus and imprisons him (as well as his son and perhaps other associates of his) in the labyrinth too. Daedalus makes wings for Icarus so that they can fly up and over the walls of their prison. He warns Icarus not to fly too close to the Sun, but he does anyway, and ends up getting knocked out of the sky into the ocean below. For a flat Earth believer, this is the perfect metaphor for what happens to anybody who attempts to fly up and out of the domed disc enclosure that we are supposedly trapped in: their rockets are knocked out of the sky and the debris falls into the sea below. In the video, a man wearing the wings is shown talking to one of the other characters, wearing golden wings, on a ledge, from which he falls after being hit it the eyes by the spotlight: the artificial sun.


Constructing the wings


The hammer hits the anvil, sparks fly


Putting the wings on Icarus


Icarus struck by the sun


Icarus fallen


Daedalus constructs wings for his son, Icarus, after a Roman relief in the Villa Albani, Rome (Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888).


Jacob Peter Gowy’s The Flight of Icarus.

At one point, Icarus is shown with a large open wound beneath his rib cage, as another person sticks his hand inside the wound. This appears to reference the scene from The Gospel of John when the disciple Thomas Didymus (“Doubting Thomas”) places his hand inside the wounds of the risen Christ (represented earlier in the video as a man crucified), reaching for physical proof that he is actually Jesus resurrected, because he cannot believe it. As this scene is shown, Stipe sings:

Consider this the hint of the century.


The hint of the century

So there is no doubt that Stipe is telling us to pay attention here: he’s dropping clues. As he sings these words, one of the characters mouths the lyrics and points with his finger at the wound being probed. The words “hint of the century” may also indicate that a particular period of time is being pointed at: the 15th century, when Nicolaus Copernicus presented his heliocentric theory that “revolutionized” our conception of the Earth and the cosmos.

Consider this the slip that brought me too my knees failed

During these lines, Michael Stipe is shown collapsing to his knees in front a book mounted on a stand in front of the wings, which are also mounted.


The slip that brought him to his knees

On one level this refers to the fall of Icarus, the mistake that brought him down. I think what Stipe is also saying here is he caught some “slip,” some failure in the official story about Earth and space (perhaps all of the signs that the lunar missions were fake), and this caused him to fall on his knees in worship of God, realizing that the truth has been hidden to disguise God’s handiwork. This is a song about losing the “religion” of science, but it is also about gaining true religion upon realizing that the shape of the Earth is accurately described in ancient scriptures. Icarus fallen here symbolizes the failure of mankind to conquer the realm of the sun. Anyone who attempts to breach the barrier in the sky will be knocked down.

The Fall of Icarus, 17th century

The finger inside the wound shows us that he came to this conclusion after looking for, and finding, physical proof of the truth that he could not believe based on rumor alone. When he says “What if all these fantasies come flailing around,” he means the “fantasies” of religious belief that immediately come to mind once you open yourself to the Flat Earth theory. He describes himself as “like a hurt, lost, and blinded fool,” unsure of what’s real, just as we are shown a donkey, a symbol of foolishness, blinded by the light of the truth just as Icarus is shown blinded by the Sun.


The donkey, symbol of foolishness

The window that looks like a painting (at one point shown with a canvas taped over it) and the spotlights used for artificial sunlight are not the only visual hints that the artificial flat Earth system is the subject of this song. We also repeatedly see a metal globe (made from interlocking rings) on a stand, with the spotlight shined upon it so that it casts shadows on the wall. As I mentioned, small models of the globe Earth have been shown in a previous R.E.M. video (“Stand”), and would be shown again in subsequent one (“Man on the Moon”). This one appears to be constructed from the same metal as the frame of the angel wings, the blueprint for which is shown in the video (unlike the original blueprints for the space shuttles used in the lunar missions, which have been “lost” by NASA). The artists who created the wings are shown at the end of the video standing proudly next to their work.


The shadow of the globe projected on the wall


Another representation of an artificial sun


Blueprint for the wings of Icarus


Blacksmiths presenting the wings of Icarus

The cover for the album that this song is from, Out of Time, shows what looks like ocean water in the interior of a building lined with marble bricks, and a door in the wall. This could symbolize the artificial world of the flat Earth model and the idea that we are inside of a structure, with the oceans bound by an actual wall.


There are probably other hints in other R. E. M. songs and videos. Their 2004 album Around the Sun contains a song of the same title with the line “Hold on world ’cause I’m not jumping off,” indicating that the world has an edge. Of course, their song “It’s the End of the World as we Know It” could just as easily be a reference to the edge of the alleged enclosure of the flat Earth as it could be to the Apocalypse. That might explain why the narrator “feels fine” about it. I am overwhelmed by what I have found just looking at these few songs and videos, so I will leave it up to others to probe more deeply.

As for whether or not the people behind the film Man on the Moon are in on the secret as well and were cryptically communicating it, this is impossible to know for sure. But the coincidences we’ve mentioned certainly beg us to look for more evidence to indicate that. The choice of the title, the imagery used on the poster, and the participation of Jim Carrey (who must have been filming The Truman Showat or around the same time stand out. Fittingly, Carrey won Golden Globe awards for both performances.

After noting some of these coincidences, I did some Googling and came across an article written by flat Earth researcher Eric Dubay which mentions a series of odd things about Jim Carrey’s career, as well as the imagery of the Man on the Moon film poster and the implications of the main line from the related R.E.M. song. So at least I am not the only one who is seeing a pattern here. What I now know about Andy Kaufman raises the suspicion that he may have believed in this flat Earth idea as well. Perhaps this is what originally inspired Michael Stipe to link the two concepts, and later the film somehow became a manifestation of this association as well. With this in mind, there are a few lines from the utterly torturous film that, out of context, take on pregnant meaning. I will post stills from the film below with the captions included to illustrate what I am talking about, although I cannot tell for sure if there is an intentional message being presented here or if I am merely seeing coincidences and giving them meaning. It is all quite mysterious what is at work behind the scenes here, just like the wonderful world around us.

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