I met a drug dealer once in a bar in the US and described him to my friends the next day as a hyena-like type with sneaky smile, thick throat and flickering look. To which they all laughed, and felt was “spot on” because they all knew him.
People have probably always kept a watchful eye on others don’t seem to have the best of the group, village, team or country in mind, but rather act out of self interest. Historically, these have always been described as something not really human but rather inhuman, predator-like, blood sucking or as some kind of reptile. Disney for example often uses metaphors to describe different types of people and human behavior. Robin Hood is a sly fox. The king’s calculating but cowardly helper is a snake. etc.
Regarding conspiracy theorists, that’s exactly what they’re doing. He / she sees destructive forces in society and often expresses these through metaphor that speak some truth, even if what they say is not true in a rational, objective sense.
The story of Snow White is obviously not true, but can still speak the truth about human jealousy (and a lot of other things). Similarly, a power-hungry, predator-like group of reptiles that play with and exploit ordinary, vulnerable, hard-working humans can speak a certain truth.
Looking at Hollywood, I think this feeling of powerlessness for the inhuman (the Predator?) runs as a backbone through all human storytelling whether including tales like Little Red Hood or Erin Brockovich (Lonely mother fighting big corporate), Sleepless in Seattle (Small book store fights against major corporate), Ratatouille (Small rat fights against oncoming frozen food empire), Wall-e (Earth and and greenery against AI and machine).
We see the same theme in all art and storytelling, as well as among eccentric conspiracy theorists – the small human against the big and blood sucking. The human versus the less human.
In fact, for a predator (Great White, Lion), a person is reduced to calories, or fuel. In society, you may similarly feel reduced to fuel for other people’s predatory instincts, perhaps as a consumer, employee, slave, prostitute, instagram or spotify musician – you’re something to be utilized, consumed and spit out when exhausted. And the analogy of being lab-rats on a Alien mothership (nothing but an older version of the Matrix-story) is probably something that will increase among conspiracy theorists (and in art) as that’s how it feels in today’s algorithmically controlled and digital society. The “Mother Ship” is Silicon Valley, the “experiment” is our screens, dopamine and behavioral-science – to the extent that many in the valley don’t let their own children use many of the behavior-optimized technologies that they themselves developed. They simply keep their own children away from the predatory, blood-sucking “beast” they created.
The drug dealer I met at the bar likewise had something very well-studied and calculating, almost prowling in his behavior that to me instinctively aroused machine, robot or predator images. Of course, wasn’t a Hyena, but according to my friends, that picture was more true than the objective and scientific description of his height, weight and hair color.