HBO has released a cinematic trailer for a documentary about QAnon that has caused heavy skepticism for its portrayal of the conspiracy theory.
The six part documentary – released 21 March – is being promoted using a dark, glitchy trailer filled with breathy phrases commonplace within QAnon and its followers.
People have expressed fears that the blockbuster-esque embellishments featured in the trailer will serve to a) legitimise the movement for those within it or b) play a role in radicalising vulnerable people that choose to watch the series.
Originally a fringe conspiracy, the growth of the endlessly debunked theory is rooted in the belief that the US is run by cannibalistic paedophilic “deep state” whose workings can only be stopped by former President Donald Trump. It has since mutated into other areas that promote distrust in establishment politics and Covid-19 denial.
From insisting Joe Biden’s plane is fake to claiming images from a Quentin Tarantino movie are real, QAnon led beliefs are disproven almost daily. But that hasn’t halted the movement’s growth, culminating earlier this year in QAnon’s participation in the Capitol Riots.
There are rising concerns that a person naïve to the workings of the group could easily misinterpret the promotional material as something more glamorous or intellectual than it really is.
The tone of the trailer has raised concerns among a number of disinformation experts.
“The most concerning aspect to me is that the reuse of footage found online pieced together in 6 hours of conspiracist content will be validation for the contemporary movement and drive more content/interest,” says Joan Donovan, research director in Media and Politics at Harvard University.
It has gained traction online for similar reasons.
Some are even calling on HBO directly to ensure viewers are aware of how dangerous QAnon can be.
An accompanying release from the network says they have spent three years examining “the influence of QAnon on American culture and question the consequences of unfettered free speech permeating the darkest corners of the Internet”.
Despite this, the hope remains that well constructed documentary exploring the cult could prove useful in getting the wider public to understand the power of misinformation.