Hidden message

Hidden message

A hidden message is information that is not immediately noticeable, and that must be discovered or uncovered and interpreted before it can be known. Hidden messages include backwards audio messages, hidden visual messages and symbolic or cryptic codes such as a crossword or cipher.

Backward audio messages

A backward message in an audio recording is only fully apparent when the recording is played reversed. Some backward messages are produced by deliberate backmasking, while others are simply phonetic reversals resulting from random combinations of words.


Backmasking is a recording technique in which a message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forwards. It was popularized by The Beatles, who used backward vocals and instrumentation on their 1966 album "Revolver". Artists have since used backmasking for artistic, comedic, and satiric effect, on both analog and digital recordings. The technique has also been used to censor words or phrases for "clean" releases of songsFact|date=April 2008.

Backmasking has been a controversial topic in the United States since the 1980s, when allegations of its use for Satanic purposes were made against prominent rock musicians, leading to record-burnings and proposed anti-backmasking legislation by state and federal governments. In debate are both the existence of backmasked Satanic messages and the ability to subliminally affect listeners thereby.

Phonetic reversal

Certain phrases produce a different phrase when their phonemes are reversed — a process known as phonetic reversal. For example, "kiss" backwards sounds like "sick," and so the title of Yoko Ono's Kiss Kiss Kiss sounds like "Sick Sick Sick" or "Six Six Six" backwards. The Paul is dead phenomenon was started in part because a phonetic reversal of "Number nine" was interpreted as "Turn me on, dead man".

According to proponents of reverse speech, phonetic reversal occurs unknowingly during normal speech.

Non-musical messages

Backward messages also exist in mediums outside of music, including computer games, music videos and television shows.

In the computer game "Doom II", a garbled message played at the start of Map 30, spoken by the "Icon of Sin", can be played backwards to hear "To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero." Romero was a programmer for the game; he put the backwards message (with distortions) in to get back at the artists who put the image of his head on the final level. [cite web|title=PC Interview: John Romero|publisher="Computer and Video Games"|url=http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=135427|accessdate=2006-08-19]
The player can use the no-clip cheat to enter the brain of the Icon of Sin to see Romero's head impaled on a stake. Shooting the head allows you to win the level, although the head emits a ghastly cry. (Normally the player is expected to shoot rockets at the exposed brain of Baphomet, killing Romero via splash damage.)

Stanley Kubrick, in his 1999 release, "Eyes Wide Shut", features a scene depicting a Satanic ritual, where the soundtrack (the song "Masked Ball") consists of a backwards Latin liturgy. [ [http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0096.html The Kubrick Site: Introducing Sociology by Tim Kreider ] ]

Blizzard Entertainment has released two games with known hidden audio messages. In "Diablo", the message "Eat your vegetables and brush after every meal" is heard as the player enters the 16th level. [cite web|title=Diablo: Strange Noise on Level 16|publisher=The Easter Egg Archive|url=http://www.eeggs.com/items/98.html|accessdate=2006-07-17] In "Warcraft III", clicking on the Demon Hunter hero a number of times produces the backwards message "I love green trees", which sounds (forwards) like "siege niege avalya." [cite web|publisher=The Easter Egg Archive|title=Warcraft 3: Demon Hunter: "Save the rainforest"|url=http://www.eeggs.com/items/36879.html|accessdate=2006-07-17]

The grand finale of the stage show The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company consists of the comedy troupe performing the play "Hamlet" backwards. "Oh, yes," one of the performers quips, "and be sure to listen for the Satanic messages," leading to the obvious yelled joke: "Judas Priest is God!" As massive improvisation is an intentional part of the show, however, other celebrities (most notably Frank Sinatra) sometimes find themselves deified instead. Also used is the phrase 'reelect George Bush!'.Fact|date=March 2007

In one scene of "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America", Beavis and Butt-Head hallucinate, and voices are heard in the background. The voices are the two characters speaking phrases such as "Everybody go to college, study hard, study hard." [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115641/trivia Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996) - Trivia ] ]

In the "Clone High" episode "Raisin the Stakes", JFK falls through the cafeteria sunroof, lands, and begins to foam at the mouth and speak gibberish. The gibberish played backwards is JFK saying "I am talking backwards, and telling you to watch Clone High ... and for us to get an Emmy ... I'm saying that backwards ... 'cause it's sneaky!" [ [http://imdb.com/title/tt0305011/trivia "Clone High" (2002) - Trivia ] ]

In the "Man of Science, Man of Faith" episode of "Lost", Walt Lloyd is heard, and confirmed to be, speaking backwards, although fans argue on what he says. Two possible interpretations are "Don't push the button, the button is bad" and "Push the button, no button is bad". [cite web|title=Lost Character Walt Lloyd|url=http://www.thelostaways.com/lost-character-walt-lloyd.html|accessdate=2007-02-03]

The "Red Dwarf" episode "Backwards" includes various backwards messages, including "Oi! Hey! Oi, you robbing bastards, that's our tandem!" and "I'm addressing the one prat in the country who's bothered to get hold of this recording, turn it round, and actually work out the rubbish that I'm saying. What a poor, sad life he's got!" The episode revolves around a return to an Earth where time is running backwards, so most of the dialogue in the show is backward. Most of the backward messages in this episode agree with the subtitled captions explaining them, with a few exceptions. [ [http://www.faqs.org/faqs/tv/red-dwarf/faq/ RED DWARF Frequently Asked Questions List (FAQ) ] ]

The "Simpsons" episode "New Kids on the Blecch" involves the formation of a boy band, Party Posse, by Bart Simpson, Milhouse Van Houten, Nelson Muntz, and Ralph Wiggum. The band's music videos contain military imagery and a group of Arabian belly-dancers who recite a seemingly Arab phrase, "Yvan Eht Nioj", which sounds like "Join the Navy" backwards.

An episode of "G.I. Joe" includes the backwards message, "Anybody listening to this message backwards must be a real dweeb", which is a reversal of an incantation spoken by Destro. [cite web|publisher=The Easter Egg Archive|title=GI Joe: Destro Cult Message|url=http://www.eeggs.com/items/31291.html|accessdate=2006-08-27]

The episode "Robotic Hymn of Doom", from "The Brak Show", includes the message "Why are you listening to this song backwards, you could have been on a date with a girl". It is sung by Thundercleese as he was going to be shut down. [cite web|title=The Brak Show: Expiration Day|publisher=TV.com|url=http://www.tv.com/brak-show/expiration-day/episode/80442/summary.html|accessdate=2006-07-25]

At one point of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Opposite Day", SpongeBob and Patrick were talking backwards. When played normally it is gibberish but when it is played in reverse it has a hidden message. The conversation played in reverse::(Both Laughing):SpongeBob: To get to the opposite side.:Patrick: I give up.:SpongeBob: Hey Patrick. [http://spongebob.wikia.com/wiki/Opposite_Day#Backmask]

Visual messages

When rotated a certain way, an early 1990s Pepsi can will read "SEX." And if the Coca-Cola logo is flipped, the result is supposedly an Arabic word debasing Allah. These are both coincidences covered on Snopes.

In the 1980s, Coca-Cola released in South Australia an advertising poster featuring the reintroduced contour bottle, with a speech bubble, "FEEL THE CURVES!". Inside one of the ice cubes was the silhouette of a woman performing fellatio. Thousands of posters were distributed to hotels and bottle shops in Australia before the mistake was discovered by Coca-Cola management. The artist of the poster was fired and all the posters were recalled.Fact|date=May 2008

Lucky Strike's old cigarette packaging, when rotated, supposedly shows a burning house, accompanying the Red Dot of Japan's flag and the trademark phrase "it's toasted".

The American $20 bill allegedly contains a prediction of the September 11 terrorist attacks, despite being designed decades before the World Trade Center buildings were even built. When folded as shown, an image can be seen that resembles the Twin Towers in flames. This is true for all American dollar bills except for the one-dollar bill.

Conservative activist Donald Wildmon has claimed that The Walt Disney Company inserted the word "SEX" into the clouds in a scene in the animated film, The Lion King. According to Disney, however, the frame in question actually reads "SFX", a common abbreviation for "special effects", and was a signature by the effects animation team for their work. The lettering is ambiguous. [http://www.geocities.com/cameraghost/pages/lionkg3.jpg]

Various other messages have been claimed to exist in Disney movies, some of them risque, such as the well-known allegation of an erection showing on a priest in "The Little Mermaid". [ [http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/films.asp Urban Legends Reference Pages: Disney (Disney Films) ] ] According to the Snopes website however, only one "is clearly true [and] undeniably purposely inserted into the movie": images of a topless woman in two frames of The Rescuers. [http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/rescuers.htm]

In 1982, Mark Lindsey, a graduate of Virginia Tech, submitted an entry for an addition to be built to the University of Virginia's football stadium. Lindsey realized that the stadium was in the shape of a "v" and promptly designed the new addition in the shape of the letter "t" to make the logo of the Virginia Tech Hokies. UVA officials were unaware that the design was a tribute to their in-state rival and picked Lindsey's plan. The addition was built in 1985 but replaced in 1999 after UVA officials discovered Lindsey's message.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is also the scene of a running battle with PETCO, a pet food retailer in San Diego, for several years regarding the purported mistreatment of live animals at PETCO stores. When the Padres announced that PETCO (which is based in San Diego) had obtained naming rights to PETCO Park, PETA was unable to persuade the Padres to terminate the agreement. Hence PETA used advertising in the form of an acrostic. It successfully purchased a brick with what appears on the surface to be a complimentary message: "Break Open Your Cold Ones! Toast The Padres! Enjoy This Championship Organization!" However, if one takes the first letters of each word, the resulting acrostic reads "BOYCOTT PETCO". Neither PETCO nor the Padres have taken any action to remove the brick, stating that if someone walked by, they would not know it had anything to do with the PETA/PETCO feud.

John Hargrave claims to have created a hidden message at Super Bowl XLI with 2350 lights that were turned on during the halftime show. However, it is uncertain whether the lights actually spelled anything. [http://www.startribune.com/389/story/999892.html]

Windows Fonts

The letters "NYC" (New York City), when rendered in "Webdings" font, form a rebus reading "I Love New York". When rendered in "Wingdings" font, it arguably reads "Killing Jews is Good".

If your browser has access to these fonts, this table will show the results:

The Webdings message was included deliberately. Wired News reports that "When Microsoft developed a new graphical font, Webdings, in 1997 ... typographers took pains to ensure that the image corresponding with the capital letters NYC was a pleasant one." [ [http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,47042,00.html MS Denies Wingding Thing, Again ] ]

The message in Wingdings, on the other hand, was investigated by Microsoft and the Anti-Defamation League and found to be a coincidence. [ [http://www.snopes.com/rumors/wingdings.asp Urban Legends Reference Pages: Wingdings ] ]


External links

* [http://www.triplo.com/ev/reversal/ Audio Reversal in Popular Culture] — explanation of backmasking and phonetic reversals

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