Socio/Political and Historical analysis necessary for my peace of mind.

Category: Media Analysis

What is Propaganda? (part 1)

As someone who lives in America but is of Salvadorian dissent, I have noticed something. That most American Citizens are astonishingly uninformed about American Foreign Policies. Importantly, they are amazingly ignorant about their own ┬áHistory of Militarism and Terrorism in regions like Latin America. If I talk to an American about what America has done and is still actively doing all over Latin America… most either won’t know, won’t care, or even worse still believe america is like Mother Teresa to all Latin America, and that Latin Americans are “too stupid” to understand just how “helpful” America is being. The third response is by far the most common response I have ever had, and this response is telling – it highlights a particular mentality Americans mostly share.. that they can not comprehend why the rest of the world “hates us” when we “do so much good.”

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Manufacturing Consent: A Necessary Framework for Media Consumption

So it has occurred to me that if I am to engage in proper media analysis on this blog, that I need to build the proper foundation first. In that, there are conclusions that will be reached in future analysis, that may seem like non sequiturs and thus destined to be misunderstood. That is, if someone is ignorant about the topic of media analysis, then they will not understand or keep up with the various conclusions reached. As such I would have to be forced to either lay out the basics in every single post about media analysis, or build the proper framework now such that everyone will be on the same page.

I hate constantly being stuck at a 101 level because the person I am talking to had not done their HW. As such, in order to bring this conversation to the level that I require… I need to lay out a proper framework that will be necessary for any future analysis of corporate media. That framework, can, in fact, be found in Naom Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent. However, the book is super duper long, and is written in a style that I know most people hate. I would just throw every mther fcker there… but… practically speaking very few will end up taking up that advice and end up looking at the source material. So, let me just instead summarize the very basics that would be found in the book.

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Modern Propaganda : How to Lie, Without lying.

Why do we lie?

Well we lie when the facts do not fit within the framework we want to push forward. We lie to make ourselves look better than the picture the facts reveal. We lie to cover our mistakes, to uplift our egos, and most of all, to cover up moral wrongs we were responsible for.

As we grow into proper citizens, we learn that lying, is actually kind of hard to do. You see when the facts are brought to light and they are compared to our lies, we put ourselves in an un-winnable situation. As we develop, we begin to understand that the best lies have the ability to have plausible deniability when caught.

So, we begin not to lie, but to tell half-truths. We tell one side of the story, we reveal only the facts that aid our framework and are careful not to reveal facts that work against it. However, half-truths have the same drawbacks as lies.. in that when the facts are revealed, we are then asked why we only presented these facts but not the others. While the situation is better than before, it is still not a good one to be in.

Finally, we figure out a different method – a method that often times can go completely unnoticed. We find a way to lead to the wrong conclusion without telling one lie or half truth.

How can I lead you to a false conclusion without ever telling a single lie?

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A Sociological Framework Around US Media

So I have been talking about social forces and implicit bias, describing how culture has the ability to impact our lives and points of views – often times more than we would like or be aware of. Now, if you are up on your social justice game and are culturally aware.. you are also going to see how easily this analysis holds when we analyze things like, US Foreign Policy and Corporate Media. Meaning, you are going to have a really good ability to spot BS – or as intellectuals like to call it, the ability to spot “modern propaganda” directed at you.

Now, modern propaganda is a term that is really mis-understood. When people see this term, they usually role their eyes and think that anyone who says it, must be a cooky conspiracy theorist. The reality is though, that modern propaganda is real – read Noam Chomsky’s Manufactured Consent if you want your mind blown. It does not take the form of shadowy figures controlling the world through subliminal messages.. that is just Hollywood donkey piss. (subliminal messages actually do not have a strong scientific bases, and their effects, when measured, are actually pretty trivial. Of the studies that measure an effect, a lot of them have technical issues such as sample size or selection bias)

The reality is that supraliminal messages, live advertising or movies or news, has a much larger impact radius which can be, and often is used (see the success of american anti-cigarette campaigns), to change cultural pressures. Modern propaganda is not some fool-proof way to actually brainwash someone… what is instead, is the outcome of various social pressures. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon due to social structures built around US ┬ámedia. The various social pressures we have already explored through racism, sexism, homophobia.. etc… Those same social pressures that we accept can have impact on us… are the same social forces that can be used to shape what we call “modern propaganda.”

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