Paranoia's best, revisited

Readers respond to the top 10 lists from last week's Paranoia series.

Published February 21, 2001 10:00PM (EST)

Read "Who's watching who?" by Joyce Millman.

You missed one -- the 1960s precursor to "The X-Files," "The Invaders." Roy Thinnes is the only person alive who knows that aliens are secretly invading America, and no one will believe him. "Trust no one" indeed -- at least, no one with a crooked little finger!

-- Eric Elfman

What about "Mission Impossible"? This one always amazed me -- proceeding from the perspective of always being right and utilizing all kinds of extralegal activities to "trap" the bad guys. We were always exposed to the perspective that the "good guys" always won -- at all costs.

-- Betsy Fox

I can't quibble with most of your choices, but you did leave out one of the best -- "Nowhere Man." It's "Prisoner" meets "The Fugitive" with a pre-"13 Days" Bruce Greenwood as a photographer whose entire life history vanishes in an instant. He discovers he's being hunted by a vast conspiracy that erases people's histories at will. Certainly high on any paranoid list -- and we do know they're keeping track of what we watch.

-- Michael Mayo

Read "It's a plot" by Laura Miller and Maria Russo.

John Fowles' "The Magus" is inexplicably missing from your list. Careless oversight, or something much darker?

-- Michelle Vessel

I happen to think that Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" belongs on your list. Not only does it go into great detail about what can happen when you actually start believing your paranoid delusions, but it also illustrates our human need to feed into them. It's a great book!

-- Joanne

The exclusion of Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" must be a sign that the Knights Templar have even reached their foul hands to influence your writers.

-- Jonathan Troop

How could Miller and Russo have neglected to include Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum"!

-- Alicia Rice

Good article, but what about books that cause paranoia? The Bible is a big one that comes to my mind.

-- M. Brooke Robertshaw

Read "You don't say" by Carina Chocano.

It seems like you left out some really choice ones, such as:

"You're the shits as a boyfriend!"

"I'm GLAD I fucked Dave!"

"I just did him for a little while, so he'd know how good I was, but then when he tried to go down on me I pushed him away because, I don't know, that just seemed too intimate."

"He wanted to do it again, but by then I had most of my clothes back on, but he really insisted, so I said OK, but he'd have to go get another condom."

"What a crackup that you didn't even know, until just now when I told you!"

"I didn't like him that much, and he was really rough -- the condom broke while we were doing it, and that made me pretty mad."

"I think I'm gonna give him the heave-ho, because even though the sex is OK, I'm really not comfortable with him sleeping with those two other women in addition to me."

Naturally, it takes some time to accumulate these gems, but they really make the Valentine's Day season seem that much more special.

-- Andrew McClung

Why stop at 10? Here are a few personal favorites of mine:

"It's not you, it's me."

"I'm just not up to a relationship at the moment."

"I told you before we started this that I didn't want a commitment."

"No strings, remember?"

"Who's your friend?"

-- David McFadden

Read "Name that tune -- before it names you" by the Salon Arts & Entertainment staff.

The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feelin'" is the sound of one man's paranoia turned into a symphony. "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips" -- how can he know that, unless he too has his eyes open?

-- Gavin Martin

How could you not include "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan and "Life During Wartime" by the Talking Heads? Unless they got you ...

-- Gil Roth

How anyone could assemble a top 10 paranoid song list and leave off both "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Ha" by Napoleon XIV, and the actual song titled "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath, is quite beyond this music fan.

-- Bob Fagan

Thank you so much for including the Police's "Every Breath You Take" as the third most paranoid composition of all time. It just confirms my belief that this song is closer to horror than romance. I don't know if I could stand a current or ex-boyfriend calling me up and hissing "I'll be watching you" in the middle of the night. Even if he did look like Sting.

What kills me are the number of people I've heard of who choose it as their wedding song, because it's symbolic of their love. To that, all I can say is: "Ew!"

-- Jasmine Davila

Come now, I can't believe that the editors would be so elitist as to rely only upon the patron saints of the music world (the Stones, Dylan) and nods to pop culture (Michael Jackson) without paying tribute to the various dark alleys of the music world for such an appropriate subject as paranoia. I would definitely have to add Metallica's "Sanitarium (Leave Me Be)," a touching and spine-tingling tribute to the incredibly evocative pen of horror myth master H.P. Lovecraft.

-- Matt Roberts

Read "Now playing at the angstplex" by Stephanie Zacharek.

"The Parallax View" did not make your list of paranoid movies. That makes me very suspicious. Something's going on ...

-- John Teggatz

"The Parallax View," directed by Alan Pakula, belongs on any list of the most paranoia-inducing movies. I'm not sure which film should be bumped from your list -- maybe "The Birds," as I think it is really about pure fear more than paranoia.

-- Alan Locklear

You didn't mention the two classic conspiracy theory movies of all time, both written by Lorenzo Semple Junior. Check out "Three Days of the Condor" and "The Parallax View." They are the gold standard in '70s paranoia.

-- Amy Chapman

You're trying to drive me nuts -- I can feel it.

First you leave out "Behind Blue Eyes" from your top 10 of paranoid songs.

And then, and then, I say, you leave off "Repulsion," probably the most disturbing look into a person's paranoia ever put on film.

It's a conspiracy to get more letters to the editor. That's what it is.

-- David Bedno

By Salon Staff

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