We are taught that the German National Socialists, specifically the "evil" genius Dr Joseph Goebbels, perfected the art of propaganda. On the contrary, it was highly efficient, but a long way from perfection. Compared to the way in which modern methods of propaganda have us thinking as other people wish, it was clumsy and clunky.
It was Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and "the father of public relations" according to an obituary, who took Goebbels' prototype and converted it into an art-form comparable in improvement to the jet over the propeller. Bernays though wasn't particularly interested in political propaganda. He was essentially a money grubber, seeing no gutter filthy enough to be deterred
from rolling in. It was Bernays, for example, who converted millions of otherwise sensible and healthy women into cigarette smokers. His "torch of freedom" lured a small band of female smokers out of their closets - it was unseemly for a woman to be seen smoking in public - exploded their numbers and had them puffing proudly on the streets (an early version of "girls can do anything" striking a blow for "liberation").
Public relations, or to call a spade a spade, advertising and propagandising, received a monumental boost with the proliferation of television. Because economists understood that World War 11 alone had lifted Western countries out of the Great Depression - every other attempt including FDR's fabled "New Deal" being dismal failures - widespread fears existed that with the conclusion of the war, capitalist nations would slip straight back into economic depression. The most effective way to prevent this, it was thought, was the creation of the consumer society to keep the pump primed and the wheels turning. Vance Packard, author of the fifty year old, million seller, The Hidden Persuaders, tended to agree with this analysis, concluding that the post war wave of advertising was a kind of necessary economic evil. So with television the left hand and hire-purchase the right, a glittering treasure-trove society was born. Buy now, pay later and the devil take the hindmost. Right away, the Joanses were leading the pack and no one wanted to be ignominiously left behind.
Although television was then in an embryonic state, its potential of being the Big Bertha of advertising was widely and well recognised. To this end the crusade to put a television set in every American living room was started in earnest. Well south of the border, the potential of television was also recognised as a powerful instrument of thought-control. Selling products which people didn't need and couldn't afford was not the main concern though. The thinking here was mainly along political lines. The drawback though was that most South Americans couldn't afford television sets. No problem. Governments would simply subsidise the cost so that no citizen need be without a TV set, through which could be beamed crude, undisguised political propaganda.
With the social revolution of the sixties, everything changed, including television. Wholesome entertainment such as Leave it to Beaver, and Father Knows Best was beginning to be considered hopelessly "square". And so began the televised race to the bottom to reflect the overthrow of values which had usefully informed societies for so long. Love scenes were replaced with sex scenes and the latter became de rigeur regardless of plot, setting or theme. Horror horrified. Violence became ever more realistic. (These days gun manufacturers are taking advantage of the time-honoured strategy of "product placement" to promote their wares to criminals and gangsters.)
The sixties revolution was of course a leftist revolution cementing in the keystone of the left/liberal hegemony that we suffer with today. The sixties radicals grew up and began their long march through the institutions - including television, in which, notwithstanding their obligatory atheism, they may have considered a god-given instrument with which to maintain the revolution. Coming years after the South Americans' joyous discovery of television as a political weapon, the now suited former hippies began bending television waves toward the political, but in infinitely more subtle ways than the Latin Americans.
Some time ago a valuable psychological experiment was conducted. Participants were invited into an experiment which they were told was to test their concentration. They were asked to view two teams - one blue, the other red - who were moving around and passing balls to other team-mates, and asked to keep count of the number of times the ball was passed within one of the teams.
Midway through the experiment, a man dressed in a gorilla suit appeared and began walking about among the ball-passers and then left. After the experiment, participants were asked how many times a ball had changed hands. Most got this correct. They were then asked if they'd seen anything unusual during the activity. "No," they invariably replied. None had seen the man in the gorilla suit - seen consciously, that is - who'd been in plain sight. It was proof of our inclination to see selectively.
This is how the best of televised propaganda works. Our attention is diverted to the central story and activity and away from the messages being inserted in the programme. This is a form of the subliminal advertising, or messaging, that caused such a hew and cry many years ago and was seen to be so underhanded as to be banned. Although the conscious mind has been bypassed, the message has still slipped straight through to the keeper - the subconscious mind. A new belief has been planted or an old one deleted.
Let's take a squiz at a few recent examples:
The Handmaid's Tale Something has gone awfully wrong in the lead up to the scenario around which this series revolves but we are never told exactly what. However, whatever it was has left the great majority of women barren in what used to be the USA (now the theocratic Republic of Gilead). We also know that this new republic has been given birth to by violent revolution - one that can only be maintained by the barrel of a gun. In a desperate bid to keep the governed from dying out, the government has decreed that the few remaining fertile women (the handmaidens) be rounded up and be mated with high value men, effectively forced into sex-slavery. The regime is every bit as brutal as it needs to be in such a desperate situation.
But what's going on between the lines as it were? Can the story be seen as allegory? A little applied inductive reasoning suggests it can. A few important details within the series: women, even the wives of the high value men who will become the mothers of the children produced by proxy, have few rights. It is beyond doubt a man's world, a world suddenly switched from Yin to Yang, from far left to far right. Homosexuals, "faggots" and "dykes" are objects of intense hatred and many of the bodies left hanging by the neck in public belong to those of the banned persuasion. Religion has been revived from near death and now forms a centre-piece of the new reality. It is in fact an extreme Christian fundamentalism. Female modesty has made a spectacular come-back and is de rigeur - no plump breasts bursting out of inadequate restraints or hemlines barely below the privates. Even female hair is discreetly hidden in public as indeed it once was in days dimly remembered.
Is perhaps the allegory veiled behind the facade a warning? Is it a warning of what the more unhinged of American liberal/leftist fear Trump's America will lead to? If so, the revolution that's resulted in Gilead is, more correctly, a counter revolution - a revolt against the liberal revolution that began in the sixties. Fabled feminism, for example, has been rolled back with a vengeance. A loud-mouthed, whining me-tooer would be distinctly out of place here and possibly in great danger. "Gay" liberation is also no more, and homosexuals are desperate for closets to climb back into.
God, which was thought to be dead or at least seriously ill, is also back with a vengeance. He appears to be more of a Jewish god than a benign bearded type - one to be feared rather than one shining love onto the world. However, religion in Gilead in used like so many others throughout history, that is, as a supremely effective form of social control. The Handmaid's Tale, seen this way, is a kind of bogeyman. This is what you'll get unless you are forever vigilant and ready to defend the liberal revolution - a caricature of the AltRight meeting the Taliban.
Homeland This is an American rip-off of a series originally produced in Israel. That's not to say though that it is not entertaining television. The protagonist, Carrie Mathison, played almost hypnotically by Clair Danes, is a CIA agent suffering with a Bipolar condition. As long as her finely balanced medication keeps the condition modified, it aids her in being a perfect fit for her job - fearless and as focused as a laser.
In season six, recently wound up, the American government is balanced on a precipice with right wing yahoo militia types racing around in the backs of trucks armed with the finest firepower allowed by the second amendment. The President has just narrowly survived an assassination attempt. The President is female. Perhaps it was envisioned that Hillary would be comfortably ensconced in the White House by the time the series aired. It doesn't really matter to the persuaders that this didn't pan out. They are sure that a female president will eventually prevail, especially after the public being softened up and gotten used to the idea by seeing a fictional female president. This runs along the same lines as the American public constantly being exposed to fictional black presidents which paved the way for Obama.
Cloaks, daggers, intrigue, complexity and the frenetic Carrie pin-balls from one crisis to the next but finally all is resolved. It was those damned Russians all along. Yes, it was the dastardly Russkis who never for once believed that the cold war had finished - it was they behind the attempt to bring chaos (one is almost reminded of Maxwell Smart's KAOS) , confusion and instability to America. This of course feeds nicely into the anti-Russian, anti-Putin vitriol that has been spewing fire-hose-like for years from the American media and their Neocon handlers.
For emphasis, President Elizabeth Keane pontificates in the denouement, about those Russians "who've been fighting us since the fifties". Absolutely no fault of the Americans who, just itching to get into World War 11, ignored the murderous track record of the Soviets, claimed them as their wonderful and eternal allies and armed them to the teeth in a combined effort to shatter Germany, and then when it was all over, ignored General Patton's advice, for which he was taken out, and allowed their good ol' buddies to devour half of Europe and then arm the communists in China, thus causing the US to "lose it". No, it was the Russians who were as singularly guilty as the Germans supposedly were in starting both world wars. The Soviet Union of course eventually collapsed under the weight of Marxist absurdities presenting an opportunity for peace and good will for all mankind. But where are you going to find an enemy as good as the Russians? Better move NATO right up to their borders and keep them ringed with nuclear missiles.
Berlin Station Coming in late here means being confused but nevertheless still gripped. The Berlin Station is a franchise of the CIA in Germany's capital. Season 2 which has just wrapped up in Australia is of most interest here. Cunning CIA agents have infiltrated a "far right group" with the moniker Perspektive fur Deutschland (PfD). This naturally is a thinly veiled stand-in for Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) which performed spectacularly well in the last national election, becoming "the first far right party to win seats in the Bundestag since 1945" when those dastardly "Nazis" held power. This naturally had liberal/leftists world-wide wetting themselves.
The association of the fictional with the real political party is a royal shit-smearing job and one can only wonder at how a major defamation case has been avoided. Unlike the real party, the fictional one is staffed with fanatics, its leader in particular bearing a close psychological similarity to an amalgamation of a high ranking National Socialist officials. Worse still, it is a terrorist group planning a false flag act of major destruction and murder for which Muslims will wear the blame. Remarkably, the leader (one has to imagine his black uniform) says things that any sane, non-mind-controlled, self-respecting German citizen should be saying, things such as, "we are tired of being under American occupation and control", "it's time to stop wallowing in shame and lift our heads high", "how long must we keep paying and paying for our past?" Interestingly though, he doesn't overtly deny the holocaust. That would indeed be a bridge to far. Why waken a sleeping dog that's better off dead?
But of course in a context, or rather, a bubble, of liberal sweetness, these mutterings are made to seem so shocking as to be a cause of mature women clutching at their pearl necklaces and younger women swooning and falling to the floor. It could though be classed as an exercise as hiding in plain sight - let's lance the boil and see how truly noxious it is.
Harrow Now that homosexual marriage has put the seal of approval on homosexuality, deeming it to be perfectly normal, television is proving to be a great aid in preventing us losing sight of this normality - backsliding, if you will.
This series pulls its weight in this regard. Harrow, the eponymous lead character in this, our own ABC series, just finished, is a slicing and dicing forensic pathologist who hasn't bothered to join MENSA (its members would probably be too dull for him). All in all, it's a well produced and entertaining programme featuring, apart from one character who is more of a caricature, high-grade acting. Harrow's sidekick cum assistant is the inclusion of inclusiveness. It's in fact a double-whammy of inclusion. He is not only homosexual; he's also Asian - and as sweet as can be. No, not that kind of sweetness, not flaming, but perfectly nicely masculine; in fact, the picture of normality. It's as though a young man you had just met told you he was going out on a date, and you asked, as you would, "dinner or a movie?", you asked instead, "boy or girl?" (Whichever, it's all right - perfectly normal - with me.)
In one episode when a man catches his teenage in flagrante delicto with the son's new best male friend, he reacts as most men would react - with rage, hurt and disappointment, perhaps not with the rage the character expresses but surely with intense emotion. When Harrow hears of this reaction, be explodes with moral outrage: "he did that simply because of his son's sexual persuasion!" To Harrow, the man's behaviour is pegged perfectly level with rage at finding his son was left-handed rather than right handed.
This though is just the thin edge of the wedge. Steel yourself for ever more, increasingly gut churning portrayals of "alternate" love and love-making. How about a new classification being added to TVs rating system to warn us of what's coming; something easily decipherable like HS - homosexual sex? Don't even ask. Keep your head down. You do want to stay out of those re-education camps don't you?
As well as drip-feeding a steady diet of homosexual homage directly into the frontal lobe, TV does an excellent job of spruiking the desirability of race-mixing. The character of Offred, solemnly played by Elisabeth Moss in the aforementioned Handmaiden's Tale, for example, was drawn to the dark side before her world was turned upside down, resulting in a milk-coffee-coloured piccaninny. British television, however, leads the field in race-mixing characters (as well as minority women bosses, particularly police chiefs). A brief sampling of British offerings could easily have one convinced that white people were legally prevented from having spouses or even short-time sexual partners of the same fair race.
All of the above, far and away the most pernicious and insidious aspects of television, has unfortunately only touched on the totality of its far ranging toxic effects. The reason it is an advertiser's and propagandist's paradise is that it alters the brain to make it more amenable to outside control. After a remarkably short time, for instance, a TV viewer's level of consciousness is lowered to one just above sleep with brain activity being less than in sleep. This is the so-called alpha level of brain-wave, one similar to that attained in meditation and the level preferred by hypnotists for best results. It is in fact a hypnotic state. Best of all, from the perspective of those who desire to share your brain, television is addictive. Try not watching TV for even a week. It is as addictive as chocolate in as much as the endorphin releasing effects are the same. But you can only eat so much chocolate and most humans have the sensibility to realise that even if you could, eating chocolate six, seven, or eight hours per day will not lead to optimum health. It's not so with TV. What's the harm? is the question most would ask. The old more jocular than serious saying that TV will rot your brain has been proven to be correct. For the entire litany of evil, check out, if you dare, the following:
And if you really, really must continue being transfixed by the glowing screen, at least try and remember that those on the other side of it do not really have your best interests at heart.