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Eric Clapton is doubling down on his criticisms of COVID-19 safety protocols, arguing that those who are getting vaccinated are victims of “subliminal advertising” by pharmaceutical companies on social media.
The 17-time Grammy winner made the eyebrow-raising claim in a video interview with “The Real Music Observer” that first appeared on YouTube last week. In it, he was asked about his decision to team up with Van Morrison, another vaccine skeptic, on the 2020 single “Stand and Deliver,” which compared COVID-19 lockdowns to slavery.
“Whatever the memo was, it hadn’t reached me,” Clapton said. “Then I realized there really was a memo — a guy, Mattias Desmet, has talked about it. It’s great, you know, the theory of mass hypnosis formation. And I could see it, once I kind of started to look for it.”
“I saw it everywhere,” he continued. “And then I remembered seeing little things on YouTube, which were like subliminal advertising. It’s been going on for a long time — that thing of ‘you will own nothing and you will be happy.’”
Clapton appeared to be referring to a concept promoted by Desmet, a professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University in Belgium. Desmet’s widely discredited theory suggests people have been “hypnotized” into believing mainstream ideas about COVID-19 such as testing procedures and vaccinations.
The term gained momentum after it was discussed by Dr. Robert Malone, another vocal skeptic of COVID-19 vaccines, in an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast that aired last month.
Later in the interview, Clapton criticized the media for perpetuating what he described as “completely one-way traffic about following orders and obedience” and implied he’d channeled his frustrations into music. In addition to “Stand and Deliver,” he released an anti-vaccination anthem, “This Has Gotta Stop,” in August of last year.
“These guys that were in power really started to piss me [off] ... but I had a tool,” he explained. “I had a calling and I can make use of that, so I set about it and started writing.”
Clapton, 76, has criticized COVID-19 vaccines after outlining what he described as “disastrous” health consequences upon receiving the AstraZeneca jab last year.
He later vowed never to perform at music venues that require proof of vaccinations, but seemingly backtracked on that pledge by taking the stage at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center ― where attendees were required to show vaccination cards or test negative for COVID-19 before entering ― in September.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.