Sunday nights are movie nights. Not for the family; that’s Friday nights. No, for me.
Not every Sunday night (I’m not that rich) but about once a month, I try and go out and catch a movie, alone. It’s a way for me to refuel, collect my thoughts, prepare for the coming week, and just relax. But it’s also a place for me to be inspired/influenced/taught. Movies have always played that role in my life, even if my fault has always been being too gullible with Hollywood and allowing cinema to effect the way I see the world a little too much. Movies serve a number of functions, but mainly: a source of entertainment (used to make money), propaganda (used to influence people and sell them on an idea/concept/belief), and as an open ended art form (used to inspire and stir the imagination). There may be others, but these are the three categories I can think of now.
- Entertainment: The Hangover
- Propaganda: An Inconvenient Truth
- Art: Koyaanisqatsi
Again, there may be more or these may be bad examples, but this is what I can think of right now.
The movie I saw on this particular Sunday night, was “The Ides of March” (with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling, among others). Of course every movie is going to have some percentage of those categories I listed above, but I would mainly categorize this movie under Propaganda. That’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining or art. But mainly, I think it was propaganda.
I won’t get into the movie, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I do want to say this about propaganda: It’s not all bad unless you are completely unaware that it is, in fact, propaganda.
Personally, when I think of propaganda, I think of something like Nazi Germany – and the way they used art and ads and songs and film to convince people that Jews should be hated, even killed. Definitely not the birth place of propaganda, but it stands out as a horrifying way propaganda was used for bad in the modern era the Nazi’s utilized modern mediums such as film and poster art.
But I suppose not all propaganda is bad. I mean, advertising is, in fact, propaganda. It is trying to convince you of something.
You NEED this car.
You will be happy IF you buy this TV.
Boys will date you IF you use this face cream.
Girls in short dresses will talk to you if you drink Bud Light.
Maybe I should not have given those examples after stating that not all propaganda is bad. But, I suppose it will suffice to make my point. Propaganda is only bad when you are unaware of the fact that it is (whatever IT is) in fact, propaganda – a message that is being communicated to deliberately get you to change your mind, or change your perspective on something, some person, some product, or even yourself.
When people are unaware of this fact, they may mindlessly buy into the propaganda, which is usually aimed at their emotions, and thus results in horrible consequences, such as genocide. (that would be an extreme, and I won’t say that genocide is caused ONLY by propaganda, but you get the idea).
And what pisses me off is that propaganda is ALL AROUND us and most people are so UNAWARE of it, and in fact model their entire lives around the messages they receive from propaganda.
But here is the fascinating thing about propaganda: why does it work? How could some commercial of a hand holding a pretty little iPhone, make me desperately want to buy one and feel worthless if I don’t have one? How could a commercial cause me to buy something I absolutely do not need (not need, in the survival sense)? Why are we so manipulative… or not manipulative (though that is a valid question too) but, you know, so easily manipulated? We are like little lemmings (forgive the example if you have no idea what I’m talking about) who walk off the cliff because the person in front of us did.
I saw this video of this old Candid Camera episode (from like the 60’s or something) and they had a camera on an elevator door. Three or four actors would walk in with one unsuspecting person. The actors would all then immediately face the rear of the elevator – and all of these non-actors would walk in, look around, and then face the rear – not questioning it at all.
In fact, they had this one poor kid, probably in his early 20’s, come in and look around, totally confused, but wanting to not be the odd one out, so he faces the rear. Then the actors turn, before the door closes, to the left – and the kid does too! Then the doors open again and everyone is facing the rear again, even the kid!
I’ve seen other experiments like this too, where people do not want to be… I don’t know, wrong? The only one NOT doing something? Left out?
But why are we like this?
This is some people’s ENTIRE existence… to attain whatever it is they are told by whoever is doing the selling that they need to attain.
Seems so… controlling. NOT-free. Like a prison.
On the flip side, and I’ll end here, you have to at least listen to the propaganda, because like I said – it’s not all bad. Sometimes the message is something you need to hear, or be taught. To claim that you are an individual, in no need of instruction and teaching, is to be just as dangerous as the fool who listens and obeys, without questioning or at least contemplating what he or she has been shown or taught.