(Jaw drops 😲 to the floor 😱. Eyes pop out 😵. Sound effect 📣 of, "🚨 AWOOOOGA 🚨 AWOOOOGA 🚨!!!!" Places eyes 😶 and jaw 👅 back in place 🤤. Regains 😤 composure 😌.) ... Eh hem 🕵️, you three 💁💁💁 look quite lovely 😍.
I recently read The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk after nearly 15 years of not reading his work– the plot centers around a Foley artist named Mitzi and a grieving father Gates Foster, who hears his missing (presumed dead) daughter in the stock sound screams of horrifying content from the dark web over a 17 year long search, and this search is ultimately what brings them together, as Gates seeks out answers to who provided the screams in these movies, and winds up on a violent spree of his own. I don't want to talk too much about the book, other than to say the spree element of this character is something fascinating to me from real world parallels. It's a meandering, kind of unfocused book, but it raises in many plot points that give some broad applicability to interrogating the truth of navigating what appears to be.
The question of whether or not Gates Foster even had a daughter is broached late in the book, was he manipulated into seeking out targeted individuals for covert assassination (something Palahniuk featured quasi-prominently as a subplot in Lullaby)? If so, does it matter to what end? The reality is that this is something that happens all the time, and notably so in the case of Lee Harvey Oswald.
It's a matter of deep debate what, and how much, and how willingly, involvement Oswald had with the CIA in the years before the Kennedy assassination, however, one thing is clear: he was on their radar. His supposed communist sympathies create a very pat pretext for having been so, his defection to the USSR even more, and whether or not this was a ruse to flesh out his character bio, there was a demonstrated effort to create narrative around his actions to the point where actors were deployed into the field to place Oswald at various places (in Mexico City, for example, in the days before the assassination, on a timeline that is too tight, and photos of Oswald clearly depict someone else).
One theory is that Oswald was manipulated into certain actions, either believing he was truly part of a real insurgency in which he materially had a very minor role (as he maintained), or was an operative who simply got hung out to dry (he was suspected to have been the source of the assassination plot in Chicago earlier in the year foiled by an anonymous tip to the FBI field office headed by a former JFK Secret Service detail member). One could speculate that he was kept on the radar as someone potentially of use in such a plot, and this much seems obvious about his role, and when the time came to make use of him, there he was.
Conceptually, the relationship I'm describing between the deep state and Oswald is functionally what is thrown out late in the novel about Gates Foster. A much more close comparison, and one just as speculative that it might as well be fiction, but introduces an interesting element, to me anyway, is the case of Andrew Cunanan.
Famously, Cunanan would flippantly threaten to "go on a five state killing spree" if he were ever in a situation he found undesireable, which unfortunately for Gianni Versace, he did when he found himself out a sugar daddy and two other boyfriends who realized they were getting played by him, even if he did, evidently, have conflicting feelings about his motivation for being kept and also wanting genuine mutually respectful relationships. Cunanan, himself, probably was lying about his own ties to the Sicilian mafia (his mother famously from a former penal colony in Italy) or the deep state operations of the Phillipines, or any of the other agencies he claimed ties to (Mossad, at one point, for example). However, it's been speculated at various times that Versace did have ties to the mob.
Bringing this back to Kennedy for a moment, the ties between the CIA and various mafia groups, and their respective cutouts for working together, are well-documented, usually when it came to protecting shared interests; mob activity in Havana was a strong motivation, for example, for both mob interests and the CIA to collaborate on plots to assassinate Castro, the contentious history of Kennedy with Allen Dulles going back to JFK's time as president-elect where the CIA extrajudicially assassinated a world leader as an act of personal malice against Kennedy, who himself was alleged to have mob ties that influenced his 1960 election, these are just examples of where CIA and organized crime have adjacent and often overlapping interests in controlling circumstances.
It can't be known what, if any, real connection Versace had to the mob, or what interest the feds might have had in letting Cunanan seemingly remain a well-documented several steps ahead of the FBI manhunt only to seemingly lose track of him while locked down on Miami Beach. The Palahniuk novel posits an interesting mental exercise when you consider Oswald, for example, as a premise, and Cunanan as someone you could speculate around using that knowledge. He was also on law enforcement's radar before the spree, he was fatalistically focused on exacting revenge on someone, and burying an intended mob hit by simply letting it happen in the course of a larger spree of violence, seems like a conclusive trial balloon for manipulating someone's deliberate acts of violence into targeted acts of violence in the interest of a larger organization.
As I said, this is speculative, there's no real argument to be made re: Cunanan, it wasn't a political assassination, and if you wanted to make a good faith argument about some external influence on him, it was probably more burgeoning tabloid parasocial culture's influence on a deeply unwell person, but with that documented example of Oswald, you have another pattern to look for that probably could sit alongside a case study of someone like the Unabomber and his experience with government programs like MK ULTRA while at Harvard. It's a mental exercise worth doing because it forces you to evaluate the role of "elite" institutions, the desireability of them, while they mostly have become a vehicle for the world's powerful, but not smarter or more able, just better resourced, to either do harm, or seek out those vulnerable to that harm. It's an interesting aspect that Cunanan was obsessed with appearing to be of this world, while failing to assimilate his habits into anything useful to that end; he understood, however, that it was all affectation, which was how he so far in the first place– it makes sense, given all this, taht he wound up on federal law enforcement's radar, but that he never gained acceptance. The latter would've prevented the former, he would've been neutralized, and it forces you to ask how many bad days are between some of these ghoulish figures in what some call "the deep state" as they exist now and becoming openly repulsive monsters, and agents of harm with their own hands, instead of merely pulling the strings, as one might feel is justified to speculate.
The novel makes much of explaining how stock sounds come to be, narratively as metaphor; how often do you consider how a canned scream in a horror movie was made to sound so real, etc. It's that old joke about how the people in the laugh tracks on TV are probably all dead. The journey Foster goes on through the novel he's seeking out answers by interrogating those who didn't consider where the screams overdubbing their own came from, and Mitzi, the foley artist, only considers how her sounds are made, that's the passion of the art– Foster's journey seems so complex, and it is, but the truth of the matter is, his trauma, if it happened, was much simpler than he was imagining, but dramatically more horrific.
The novel itself centers around a very relatable, if not at least a little morally justifiable, crusade of a grieving parent; the depth of the tragedy grows when you find that a character who is best able to help him reach a conclusion is part of potentially a much larger conspiracy, and what this all is a vehicle for proves to be much larger than the massive web of incidents you think it is, as all of these stories are, provable and demonstrable or not as they may be.
I guess if I had to sum up the point of making this comparison, and it's usually some element of a theme of the author's work in general and probably one of the more socially redeeming aspect of work that's been (unfairly) dismissed as gratuitously violent or disgusting for its own sake, is that it is an uncomfortable truth that if something is acknowledged to be complex but also seems obvious, there's usually something less complex, probably less sophisticated (consider virtually every CIA operation– something improbable is accomplishing using blunt force and succeeding on audacity a fraction of the time), but far more objectionable bubbling right below the surface that can be easily understood, but almost impossible to rationalize it potentially occurring as often as it might.