#minorsextrafficking | ‘Q: Into the Storm’ uncovers a conspiracy theory like no other

What is QAnon, and who is the alleged Q? These are the questions film producer and director Cullen Hoback (“What Lies Upstream”) attempts to answer in HBO’s “Q: Into the Storm.” In this six-part docuseries, Hoback investigates the QAnon conspiracy, its followers and the person behind the curtain: Q. 

QAnon is an American conspiracy theory that stands by the belief that there is a global child sex trafficking ring led by a group of satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles. This same group, as QAnon’s thousands of followers proclaim, conspired against their beloved former President Donald Trump throughout his time in office. 

The conspiracy was developed in 2017 when a 4chan user, under the username “Q,” posted numerous messages introducing themself as a person of high status within the American government with special “Q clearance.” Claiming access to classified intelligence, Q relays information to fellow conspiracists in what is known as “Q drops,” for which followers eagerly await. However, the identity of Q remains a secret that has yet to be revealed.

After watching the first episode of “Q: Into the Storm,” it is difficult not to wonder who Q actually is. This is what the pilot of the series primarily focuses on, but more specifically the amount of power one individual is able to maintain without ever disclosing their identity: an impressive yet terrifying feat. How is it that one person can convince a slew of Americans of preposterous things without ever disclosing their identity? Q hasn’t even given followers a legitimate name to be referenced by, and yet they have thousands believing that Hillary Clinton is a pedophile who eats babies.

It is precisely Q’s anonymity that further fuels people’s dedication to them. Q is someone who, to believers, is a true patriot and the last defense against corruption within the country. Followers speculate about Q’s identity while assuming they are undoubtedly a person of status and an asset to the Trump administration. This is enough for QAnon theorists to justify their trust in and praise of an individual who could very well be an absolute nobody or — more likely — a fraud.

In fact, some QAnon believers are so devoted to the conspiracy that they have become completely estranged from family and friends, while others have lost their jobs. One interview conducted in the documentary’s pilot was with former Chicago Tribune gossip columnist Liz Crokin. After requesting that mainstream media cover the supposed child sex trafficking ring, Crokin was blacklisted from and censored by other media outlets. Now, Crokin barely makes rent as a “QTuber,” or someone who decodes and discusses Q drops for fellow believers. 

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