UPDATE (1/25): Eric Clapton — referring to the ongoing controversy surrounding his stance on vaccines and pandemic safety measures as “the thing” — insisted he was neither for or against actions and inoculations that will help stop the spread of Covid-19, but an advocate for freedom of choice, in part two of his interview with Real Music Observer.
“I’m making a rod for my own back by talking about the thing and the things, but one thing about the thing I would like to make clear — because I have to keep reestablishing it — is I’m neither anti or pro,” Clapton said. “I’m freedom of choice, really, and respect for other people, and kindness, and the things that used to motivate, or were things to aspire to. Aspirations towards goodness. And I’m also quite, in an abstract way, religion — I believe in God and I think there’s a purpose. And this seems to be my purpose for the moment.”
Clapton went on to refer to his critics as “monsters,” quipping, “They know who they are and they like being monsters.” He added, “They’re always going to be after people who are looking for truth or seeking something, a way forward. I’m not that concerned with being misunderstood… You can make decisions about what you’re going to do or say without being overly concerned about the repercussions. When the repercussions happen, that’s when maybe I will learn my lesson about, well you shouldn’t have said that, or you should have said this.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Clapton spoke about his new song, “Heart of a Child,” which includes some nods to his anti-lockdown stance. He also said he has another song coming out soon which is “in the same bag,” as well as a second track that he described as “a hymn, like an anthem for a kind of real awakening.”
Eric Clapton pulled out a piping hot take about people who get vaccinated against Covid-19, suggesting those trying to decrease the likelihood of getting or dying from an easily transmissible virus are victims of “mass formation hypnosis.”
Mass formation hypnosis (or sometimes “mass formation psychosis”) has become a shiny new term in anti-vax circles, although crucially it’s not an officially recognized medical condition (as one psychology professor put it to Reuters, “mass psychosis” is “more metaphor than science, more ideology than fact”). Nevertheless, the “concept” recently gained traction thanks to Twitter-banned vaccine expert, Dr. Robert Malone, who appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast at the end of 2021 and claimed people had essentially been hypnotized into believing the efficacy of the vaccine (Malone threw in a comparison between the United States’ pandemic policies to Nazi Germany, for good measure, too).
Clapton echoed the mass hypnosis talking point/rambling during an interview with Dave Spuria of the Real Music Observer YouTube channel last Friday, Jan. 21. While noting that his family and friends were scared and concerned about his anti-vax views, Clapton said, “I didn’t get the memo, whatever the memo was, it hadn’t reached me. Then I started to realize there was really a memo… It’s great, you know, the theory of mass hypnosis formation. And I could see it then. Once I started to look for it, I saw it everywhere.”
What Clapton saw everywhere was what most people would describe a massive public health messaging campaign encouraging people to get a safe and effective vaccine. But to the musician, these nefarious tools of hypnosis were everywhere, from “little things on YouTube, which were like subliminal advertising” (they were probably actual advertisements about the safe and effective vaccine) and “the news stuff that was coming out of England… it was like completely one-way traffic about following orders and obedience” (probably just news reports about the safe and effective vaccine).
Clapton added of this deluge of public service announcements, “Bit by bit, I put a rough kind of jigsaw puzzle together, and that made me even more resolute… I felt really motivated, musically. It instigated something, which was really laying dormant. I was playing live gigs up until the lockdown without really being socially involved in anyway. But then these guys that were in power really started to piss me [off] — and everybody — but I had a tool. I had a calling. And I can make use of that.”
Clapton has indeed made use of those tools, using his platform to rail against vaccines and other Covid safety measures, while also dropping a song like “Heart of a Child,” which nods not-so-subtly to his anti-lockdown and vaccine-hesitant stances (to boot, Clapton co-wrote the song with his friend and fellow vaccine skeptic Robin Monotti). Clapton’s also contributed to one of Van Morrison’s own recent, and way more overt, Covid-19 songs, “Stand and Deliver.”