Unpacking The Conspiracy
Acclaimed journalist Henry Grunwald once said, “Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” In July of 2017, Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman, the hosts of the podcast “One More Time,” spoke. They hosted a Facebook Live video and proposed a riveting new conspiracy theory: Can “Glee” star and Broadway bombshell Lea Michele read? In the 45-minute presentation, we are given example after example, slowly convincing us of the shocking revelation..
The theory began when Hunt and Ackerman both separately purchased a copy of “Glee” actress Naya Rivera’s tell-all memoir “Sorry Not Sorry.” Rivera, who played the crass but loveable cheerleader Santana Lopez, details her feud with Lea Michele (the same feud that cut out Rivera from the show’s later seasons) in a chapter called “From One Bitch To Another.” She talks about a moment where famous comedian and improviser Tim Conway played a guest role. Without explicitly calling out Michele, Rivera wrote, “While the rest of us were in hysterics over Tim Conway’s constant improvisation, it was throwing her off. Instead of just rolling with it, she kept interrupting, ‘So, like, um… are we going to do the scene as it’s written now?’” The letter tells that Michele got fed up and locked herself in her trailer out of frustration.
Lea Michele is a diva.That is not news and we love her for it. Without divas, the world of celebrity gossip would go extinct. This situation in the book brought something completely different to light: Lea Michele can’t read. Why would she only perform the lines the way they were written, unwilling to budge? Because she had them memorized.
Hunt and Ackerman flip through slides of Michele’s various childhood broadway roles: Cosette in “Les Miserables” at age 11, Little Girl in “Ragtime” at age eight. With a rigorous job at such a young age, Ackerman and Hunt explain that she learned to memorize rather than read, simply because she never had the time.
Michele’s memorization leads us to her partnership with frequent collaborator and creator of “Glee” and “Scream Queens” (and so much more) Ryan Murphy. Ever since Michele opened her mouth at that fateful first audition for Rachel Berry, he knew he had something special on his hands, but that talent came with a cost. Murphy, known for keeping secrets, took Michele on and became her memorization teammate. Hunt and Ackerman believe that for dialogue, the pair would go through every line until Michele memorized them. For lyrics, she would use her incredible musical ability to listen to the recording of the songs and mimic it.
The hosts turned to her social media presence as their next piece of damning evidence. Her Instagram account is full of yoga pics, beach sunset shots and sponsored #ads. On her page, they scrolled through several posts, noting how most were taken by someone else. We assume that someone is her assistant, a figure who sometimes appears in the reflection of her posts. This leads us to believe that her assistant is also the person writing the captions, when they include words. While her assistant adds the captions, Hunt and Ackerman believe Michele had some influence in the process. Many of her posts are captioned by only an emoji or acronym, assumed to be added by her. Examples from 2017 being “two palm trees emojis” and “NYC // ILYSM.” The trend has continued in some of her recent captions: “black heart emoji” “as if!” and “Happy Monday!”
Hunt and Ackerman go into detail about other clues, like the fact that Michele is never photographed with a pen to paper at signing and that her signature has no detectable letters. The show clips from “Glee” cast appearance on Ellen, where Michele struggles to write down her cast members’ names in a timely manner. They note how she never presents an award alone and is never the one to read the card. Each clue is more eye-opening than the last.
The theory eventually got so popular that it spawned thousands of tweets adding onto or agreeing with the theory. Michele herself addressed it in interaction with Ryan Murphy. He said “@leamichele, they are onto us.” She quoted the tweet, responding “I know @MrRPMurphy what do we do????” Any true Gleek has a full grasp on the writing style of Ryan Murphy’s and can immediately discern his voice in this dishonest attempt at a distaction post.
Like so many pieces of raw, truthful journalism, the Facebook Live has been taken down and is nowhere to be found. You can find a transcript of it here, but nothing does it justice like the in-person presentation. A small clip remains, salvaged by a single tweet. We many never truly know the answer to this forbidden question. Can Lea Michele read? Did she learn to read after her secret was brought to light? Is she just trying her best? Aggie readers, it is now in your hands to seek truth in this world of uncertainty.
Written by: Livvy Mullen — firstname.lastname@example.org