Earlier this week I talked about fringe historians’ seeming lack of emotional maturity when it comes to dealing with those who disagree with them. Thanks to an alert blog reader, to this sorry spectacle I must now add novelist David Brody, who I learned has chosen to act out a petty revenge fantasy on me in the form of a character in his new novel, The Oath of Nimrod, published a few weeks ago. It is so bad that I can hardly stop laughing at Brody’s puerile attempt to call me names under the guise of fiction.
In the novel, Brody has quite clearly based the character of Vito on me, cleverly disguising my name, Colavito, by chopping it in half. Technically, the warning at the front of the book says that all similarities are fictitious except for those explicitly cited in the Author’s Note on sources, where of all the many real life people and situations woven into the book, I am omitted from the list of real life inspirations. This is just a legal fig leaf, of course, as Brody—a trained lawyer—well knows. The similarities are unmistakable.
Like me, Vito is a blogger who writes skeptically about fringe history, knows Latin, searches out primary sources in obscure languages, and was educated in Ithaca, New York. He also lives around 500 miles north of Washington, D.C., in New Hampshire—a comparatively short drive from Albany, N.Y., where I reside, and coincidentally where my aunt and cousins live near Mystery Hill in Salem. Vito, like me, covers “various alternative history shows and documentaries,” and exposes the underlying racism of particular claims that reassign Native Americans achievements to white Europeans. Similarly, he launched his web debunking during his educational adventure in Ithaca. Like me, he also has readers who thank him for “debunking” television programs, as well as a group of fringe researchers who are upset with him for challenging their livelihood and bringing up racism.
So far, so normal. But Brody is a novelist for whom subtlety is an undiscovered country, so in creating his fantasy version of me, he piles on one stereotype and insult after the next, not content to let one stand for all. In fact, in his grievous literary fault of telling rather than showing, he spells out each insult explicitly; rather than letting his villain act contemptibly, he tells us every reason why we should dislike Vito:
Then, to top it off, Brody has his anti-fringe blogger controlled by a cabal of conservatives operating out the Heritage Foundation (depicted here as a front for the CIA), who pay him $1,000 per week to debunk specific cable television documentaries for a readership of “one thousand” as part of a conspiracy to suppress the truth about North American prehistory.
In his attempt to render Vito an unlikeable caricature, Brody actually ends up describing a undiagnosed high functioning autist, apparently without realizing it, and certainly without sympathy for what he seems to be describing. Whatever his opinion of me, Brody has created an insensitive portrayal of someone with what used to be called Asperger’s and asks his readers to view this figure as a creature of contempt as well as a villain.
So, what becomes of Vito? Well, on orders from the CIA Vito launches a vicious attack against Brody’s Scott Wolter stand-in, crusading hero Cameron Thorne, by exposing his suspended law license, implying that Cameron is a racist, and hinting at sexual misconduct with a child. The words Brody attributes to Vito are so outlandish and vile that I hesitate to quote them. Brody, however, pretends that the angry screed he writes for Vito would be taken seriously as a debunking despite the text’s lack of facts, research, or evidence. Brody can’t bring himself to make even a fictitious case against his own pet theories, and so he pretends that all the world would be blinkered by angry adjectives (e.g., “a laughable compilation of random and unrelated occurrences”) rather than a reasoned analysis of a supposedly factual claim.
Cameron stoically weathers the attack and explains that he is used to the slings and arrows of critics:
But I think there’s more going on here than just some jerk with a blog deciding to take shots at me. As far as I know, I never even met the guy. So why come after me? There are plenty of guys who register higher on the crazy meter than I do—I’m not the one claiming reptile aliens populated the earth.
Cameron doubted that Vito would “have the balls” to challenge him to his face, however, because for Brody shut-in blogger Vito isn’t, you know, a real man like Cameron Thorne: Action Lawyer. Instead, there had to be a giant conspiracy behind the blog post, one designed to undermine Cameron. The blog post, as it turns out, is not meant to convince anyone. Instead it’s a psychological trigger designed by the CIA to unhinge Cameron, who of course is too brilliant to be duped.
Cameron, or as Brody calls him, Cam, pays a visit to Vito to confront him about his blog post, but Brody whiffs at his last at bat. He chooses not to stage a dramatic confrontation. The best he can imagine is Vito (i.e. me) telling Cam (i.e. Wolter) that he sincerely believes Cam is wrong, while Cam asserts that Vito is part of a conspiracy. Since Brody has cast Cam as the hero, Cam is of course right. He is abducted by the CIA during their confrontation even as Cam’s lover frantically calls the police, worried that due to the “bad blood” between Vito and Cam violence has erupted. Eventually, it’s revealed that Vito is part of a plot that involves the CIA and a Mormon parody video of the real-life Scott Wolter, because actual opposition to Wolter is also proof of the same conspiracy. The details beyond this aren’t really important—it’s your standard-issue convoluted sub-Da Vinci Code conspiracy.
I am genuinely surprised that a brief blog post I wrote in January 2013 about Scott Wolter’s claim of having received an honorary master’s degree served as inspiration for a full-length novel proposing a vast conspiracy behind the whole flap. Sean-David Morton’s friends didn’t write a novel about me, even after my piece on his misrepresented Ph.D.-equivalency certificate seemed to contribute to his being booted from Ancient Aliens. And Ancient Aliens also managed to demonize me the right way: with menacing music and full-on Satanic imagery. Up your game, Brody!
It’s a bit surreal to read a version of oneself created by another person. I’m more insulted, though, that my villainous turn should be so mishandled by an author of limited talent like Brody; surely, a character as rich with nefarious potential as I deserves the full Dan Brown treatment.
10/18/2014 02:04:53 am
Wait, wait, wait. If my math is correct, "Vito" is being paid a $1 a hit to his website. Eh, let's assume Vito is as prolific as this website, so he posts seven times a week, and therefore his audience of a thousand translates into 7000 hits. Vito is still getting around 14 cents a hit. In todays Internet economy, that's not fiction, that's fantasy! Lord of the Rings is more plausible!
10/18/2014 02:33:59 am
Also, someone should post the "There are plenty of guys who register higher on the crazy meter than I do—I’m not the one claiming reptile aliens populated the earth" line over on the David Icke forums. We could use a good, old-fashioned kook fight.
10/18/2014 04:10:08 am
I can't wait to see all the kids trick-or-treating in their greased-hair, baloney-smelling Vito The Conspiracy Blogger costumes.
10/18/2014 04:19:01 am
I would take it as an honor and compliment. It means you are doing your job well. People do not parody others unless they get under the skin.
10/18/2014 04:33:34 am
David Brody's character was probably inspired by this claim by a group peddling the 'Quantum Effect Generator' about anyone who claimed that their machine would not work:
10/18/2014 05:49:48 am
The guy is obviously a kook and without a doubt,a third grade author specialized in airport newsstands literature.Mieux vaut en rire qu'en pleurer
10/18/2014 06:57:45 am
I have never heard of David Brody before. That's probably a good thing.
10/18/2014 07:03:30 am
As of right now, the link to Brody's text on Amazon features just one review (by an anonymous reviewer), and of course, it's a gushing rave. I can't imagine who might have written it.
10/18/2014 07:12:27 am
he has a blog. i found it just now...
The Other J.
10/18/2014 07:08:05 am
So -- flattered?
10/18/2014 07:28:08 am
I guess I should come on here and explain myself.
10/18/2014 07:33:20 am
"I have no idea if Jason... is paid by a conservative think tank"
10/18/2014 07:39:32 am
>>>>Vito Augustine is, as Jason asserts, an internet blogger who writes about fringe history. However, he is not “based on” Jason, as Jason asserts. I have no idea if Jason showers regularly, or lives with his parents, or has family living in New Hampshire, or is a shut-in, or is bullied by a stepfather, or is socially awkward, or is paid by a conservative think tank, or looks down on his readers. If any of the above do describe Jason, that is a coincidence.
10/18/2014 08:27:54 am
I notice that you don't deny, David, that you used me as an inspiration for the Vito character and for his actions in blogging against your Wolter stand-in. I think it should be fairly obvious that no character in a novel is a carbon copy of a real human being, but you borrowed many specific (and otherwise irrelevant) details from me, such as knowledge of Latin, a rather pointless detail for a character you made into a US history scholar, never again mentioned or used in the novel.
10/18/2014 09:36:42 am
I know her amateur archaeology comes across like as if she is
10/19/2014 07:38:05 am
Whether the character is based on you or not, the oddest thing to me is the idea that he's being funded by a conservative think tank. Skepticism toward the supernatural & paranormal is hardly something that seems associated with the conservative movement these days. Aren't they the ones defending our culture from the War Against Christmas and building theme parks around the idea that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time?
10/18/2014 10:29:21 am
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
10/18/2014 07:31:44 am
"In his attempt to render Vito an unlikeable caricature, Brody actually ends up describing a undiagnosed high functioning autist, apparently without realizing it, and certainly without sympathy for what he seems to be describing."
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
10/18/2014 07:41:46 am
And it is also possible to be a high-functioning autistic and a decent human being. I know I'm the former and hope I'm the latter.
10/19/2014 02:10:36 am
"And it is also possible to be a high-functioning autistic and a decent human being. I know I'm the former and hope I'm the latter."
10/19/2014 03:11:46 am
I hate to keep pointing it out, but Asperger's syndrome has gone the way of the ninth planet.
10/18/2014 07:59:40 am
It could be worse. He could have portrayed you cooking meth in your sadly defunct furnace. Or being the Zodiac killer. You certainly look too young for the part, but an evil, all-powerful, freemasonry-like conspiracy could have used genetic engineering to give its minions near-inmortality, without any apparent aging.
10/18/2014 08:10:34 am
I remember reading somewhere (in a book by Stephen Jay Gould, I think) that Samuel Wilberforce, "Soapy Sam", the famous scourge of darwinists, wrote once a silly anti-evolutionist tract. Apparently, Darwin had a few hearth laughs reading the good bishop`s hopelessly ignorant version of his own ideas. To his credit, when told about Darwin´s reaction, Wilbeforce said: "He´s a great guy" Victorians could be stiff-upper-lipped, classist, racist, sexually repressed, obsessed with the civilizing mission of the white man and whatever you want, but they certainly knew what it meant to be a gentleman. To judge from Scott Wolter and S.T. Joshi´s recent histrionics, the author of this novel won´t take kindly your disdain for his literary efforts. O tempora, o mores.
10/18/2014 08:13:11 am
"He's a great guy" is not a phrase any Victorian would have used. I hope you were paraphrasing.
10/18/2014 08:56:04 am
Yes, sort of. It is a clumsy retranslation from the Spanish version of Gould´s book I have in my library. The title is Bully for Brontosaurus. Reflections in Natural History. The quote is in essay 26, "Knight Takes Bishop", a fascinating analysis of the different accounts of the famous debate when Wilberforce asked Huxley whether he came from an ape through his grandfather or his grandmother. In Spanish, the bishop´s remark runs: "Me encanta que se lo tome de ese modo. Es un tipo capital" I did a quick Google search, but I could´n find the original, so I reverse-translated.
10/18/2014 08:13:56 am
If there ever is a film adaptation of this novel, I would vote for Simon Pegg playing you. I loved his acting in Mission Impossible 4. This sounds like an unlikely possibility, but remember that one of L.R.Hubbard´s sci-fi turds was made into a film, so who knows.
10/18/2014 10:20:09 am
Technically you could sue him for defamation of character. He's a lawyer though so this might not work too well. How convenient for anyone he makes fun of on the internet.
10/18/2014 11:27:20 am
No, I couldn't sue him. He wrote a novel and created a fictional character who is different enough that it falls under the protection accorded to fiction.
10/19/2014 04:47:12 am
There are a fair number of writers, who have created a character based on a real person and had it come back to haunt/bite them later. And for that matter bite hard.
10/18/2014 01:38:05 pm
I remember when EVERYBODY had one of those "Vito the blogger" jackets. Those were the days.
10/18/2014 02:11:58 pm
I have to say, as big a fan as I am of JC (the blogger, not the savior) Mr. Brody's response was well-written and explained. All of the comments following are fair but we have to respect Mr. Brody's decision to come here and post. Most do not have the balls. I hope he continues to visit and defend, regardless of the differences we may have in opinion. Much more scholarly work is accomplished through such discourse than we have seen from certain religious figures defending their friends by providing answers on par with politicians who cannot even answer a simple ye/no question.
10/19/2014 04:09:39 am
Screaming Eagle, if I were to guess who you are refering to, I would venture to say that you are refering to the guy that "signs" most of his posts with "Wolter fir 25+ years as both a personal friend and a professional colleague …" :-)
10/19/2014 12:09:45 pm
That's a charitable way of seeing it.
10/19/2014 12:35:34 pm
I agree with spookyparadigm, but for slightly different reasons. David Brody's satirical take on the "skeptical bloggers" in general and Jason in particular is poorly written and intellectually worthless. However, he has as much right to make fun of Jason as we do to make fun of Giorgio Tsoukalos or Alex Jones.
10/19/2014 07:18:15 pm
Precisely. And as much as I'd be annoyed were I Jason, there is an entire genre of big-budget parodies of conspiracy theorists as something much like the parody here but inverted: tin-foil wearing losers with apophenia. South Park's hating on ghost hunters and the cast of Finding Bigfoot, The UFO "I didn't play dungeons and dragons all those years and not learn something about courage" from The X-Files, the video store owner living with his mother in Men in Black II (the only decent part of that film. For that matter, this brilliant parody
10/19/2014 07:21:37 pm
The real joke is that these parodies are "under-the-top" for the most part.
10/20/2014 06:47:28 am
10/18/2014 02:12:30 pm
Cameron Thorne? Why not Jack Magnum, Max Strong or Ace Strongwill?
10/18/2014 03:22:32 pm
10/18/2014 04:59:30 pm
10/20/2014 03:28:53 am
11/17/2018 01:49:59 pm
10/19/2014 04:44:34 am
I bow to the masters
10/19/2014 05:00:02 am
Too bad Wolf Blitzer is already taken.
An Over-Educated Grunt
10/20/2014 02:31:26 am
Dirk Steele. Dick Shafter. Rock Hardcastle.
10/18/2014 02:15:12 pm
Seems to me like Brody created a strawman and then threw in a whole series of ad hominem attacks.
10/18/2014 04:44:12 pm
In this obscure, awful, and rather goofy small press runestone conspriacy thriller novel (another one?), the Sisterhood of the Hennepin Chalice (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/205147934) I forced myself to read some time ago, the author, a well meaning Wolter acolyte, also makes mocking and insulting characters with poorly disguised “fake” names of historians Erik Wahlgren, Theodore Blegen, and Birgitta Wallace, who are intimidated by a sinister man in a purple cape (in Sisterhood, the conspiracy is an evil splinter group of the Knights of Columbus). In the case of Wallace, she is influenced to back the conspiracy with an appeal to her feminism, as the finders and defenders of the stone were “all male.” So you are not alone!
Kal the not famous
10/19/2014 07:14:11 am
I doubt that the poster who claims to be David Brody is actually him. It is probably one of his friends, or a Scott Wolter fan, posting as him. It is incredibly easy for anyone to post on this blog, and others, and to find out their anonymous names and alleged real names aren't what they seem. I suspect one of the normal troll posters is DB and not actually him.
10/19/2014 07:34:38 am
The user posted with David Brody's private email address, and the IP address corresponds to Brody's hometown.
10/19/2014 09:44:58 am
Still, Brody >did< come here and politely and clearly address Jason's points(most of them) without engaging in obfuscation or attacks. That's quite a change from the behavior of many personalities who have responded here. Props to him, I say.
10/19/2014 02:45:58 pm
Of course, in his first point, Brody did imply that Jason was acknowledging having some of the traits intended to make Vito dislikeable, including not showering and living with his parents, when it is crystal clear that Jason acknowledged no such thing; in fact, Jason made a clear distinction between those facets of Vito that were based on him and those that were intended to make the fictional character dislikeable. That was pretty cheesy on Brody's part.
10/19/2014 03:01:58 pm
He probably Googles himself regularly. That's how most fringe people find my comments about them.
10/21/2014 09:36:50 am
At least h
11/2/2014 08:02:20 pm
Mr. Colavito,if I were to base a character on you for one of my stories,it certainly wouldn't be a villain. It would either be a comic character or a comic relief character. I'd only base villainous characters on either people I don't like or historical bad guys or else just make them up. To be honest,I'd never heard of David Brody before seeing this entry.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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