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Life at № 42

The Brainwashing of My Dad + Pick a dictator, any dictator.

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.
(APPLAUSE)
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.

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14 comments on “The Brainwashing of My Dad + Pick a dictator, any dictator.

  1. Hariod Brawn
    May 2, 2016

    Perceptive, Pink. The comparison of Trump with Mussolini is quite uncanny. Cameron had to offer a referendum to stop the surge in UKIP’s popularity (including Tory backbencher defections to it) and to appease much of the Tory Party. Not defending him!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes… he was catering to the xenophobic vote and by doing so he sort of justified their positions. Sarkozy did the same thing in France, the result was he made xenophobia and racism acceptable. Now the FN is stronger than at any point in its history.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hariod Brawn
        May 2, 2016

        I don’t know if all Brexiters are xenophobes, Pink. The EU feels, to many, something of an anachronism as it stands. In any case, now the referendum is upon us, we’re seeing the Tory ranks split publicly. If we go for Brexit, then Cameron may be gone by the end of next month. Boris!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not all the Brexiters are xenophobes, but there’s a very loud contingent who certainly are. The ones I’ve encountered online “campaigning” were campaigning on the basis of xenophobia. Posting pictures of migrants and so forth.
        And that brings me back to my point- we should be discussing the merits and demerits of the union, how it works. What could make it work better. That debate isn’t going on at all. When they’re not pushing xenophobia they focus almost exclusively on the financial side.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ruth
    May 2, 2016

    All of the politicians here seem to use some sort of “Southern Baptist Preacher” style. With the exceptions of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, but still, there’s the mood setting and the build-up and the frenzy making. Donald Trump is more entertainment and marketing.

    I’ve said a few times recently that, thankfully even if Trump wins his hands are just as tied as any other President’s has been. All the promises he’s making are just as much bullshit as any other. And those who see him as the Great White Hope will be just as disappointed as those who saw Obama as Savior in Chief. It will be the same old, same old. The right will fight the left, the left will fight the right and the American people will suffer because politicians don’t really care about the American Public. They care more about their own egos, their own bank accounts, and their own ideals than they do about the people they’re supposed to represent.

    Even though I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary here, I don’t think he could have gotten much of his agenda through Congress.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. foolsmusings
    May 2, 2016

    In sports trainers and handlers make the difference between great athletes and elite athletes. In movies it’s the directors who make a good actor great. The same goes for politicians. They are the advisors, the speech writers etc who take a good politician and make them great. The problem is that the policies and platforms are essentially irrelevant at that point. Who gets the best advisors, trainers, directors? Follow the money 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cara
    May 2, 2016

    Trump IS the American Mussolini (they even make some of the same ridiculous faces). Of course Mussolini’s reign of terror ended with his own people hanging him, so I’m willing to skip ahead to the part where the American people hang Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Helen Devries
    May 3, 2016

    Castro is in the school of the Latin American football commentator….

    And why do politicians manipulate? Because they believe that if you let people come to their own conclusions the politicians won’t like them…

    It’s the same reasoning that allows the Serious Fraud Office not to bring cases to court because ‘the issues are so complex that a jury won’t understand them’. What they actually mean is that the jury will get to the heart of the matter in a trice and the big boys will be off to jug…so things must not be allowed to get to court.

    And Obama? I was on a plane when some American came prancing down the aisle shouting that Obama had won and this was the equivalent of heaven. I remember thinking that if Obama had won it was because he was an Uncle Tom – and thus permitted to win.

    Liked by 1 person

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