Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
Yesterday I watched The Brainwashing Of My Dad. It’s a film about the rise and socio-cultural effects of right-wing media in the United States (Fox, Limbaugh etc.) It’s interesting but comes off as highly partisan in that Michael Moore sort of way. From my point of view it was a missed opportunity; an analysis of the manipulative tactics of politicians in general would have been more interesting and could have mainstreamed the documentary.
The goals may be different (or are they?) but politicians use many of the same techniques to make us believe what they want us to believe. Even the reasonably benign ones. Remember that speech at the 2004 Democratic convention given by Obama? Notice how they’re playing gospel music before he goes on stage to set the tone. He begins slowly and starts picking up rhythm, at 13:20 in the video he gets into full southern preacher mode a la Martin Luther King:
“…Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.
There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America…“
That doesn’t mean his message is bad or wrong- but the manner in which it’s delivered is magnificently manipulative. He emulates the personality and manner of speech of an archetype people have been taught to respect and look up to. A completely different approach to that of Donald Trump. The closest I’ve ever seen to the Trump method was Benito Mussolini. Watch him speak for 4 minutes and say absolutely nothing at all (subtitles are in English)(He makes faces and pouts like Trump, which is slightly disturbing):
Now here’s another one which is also fascinating. Fidel Castro from the early days. It’s a short video, indulge me. It’s extraordinary to think that he wasn’t just laughed out of the room for the ridiculous telenovela style acting- with the absurdly overdone rolled R’s and caressing the microphone.
Now you’re probably thinking, “but if people on every side do it, why is manipulation so bad?” It’s bad because when people are being manipulated they don’t focus on the real issues that affect us as a society. If one believed (and many did) that Obama was some sort of saviour that would come into office, snap his fingers and bring about world peace- they’re probably a bit disappointed at this point. Guantanamo is still open, isn’t it? And Obama’s not alone, just look at the mess David Cameron created with the Brexit referendum. Or the catastrophe Mrs. Merkel created by saying yes and then no to refugees. Note that when Germany was inviting them in she was touting it on television, now that they’re turning them away, she’s nowhere to be seen.
And case after case where manipulation is used ends badly- and that’s because if issues could be argued and justified, manipulation would simply not be necessary.