Posts Tagged ‘Propaganda’

Visuals

May 2, 2021

            Large item in the national news this past week was the President’s address to a “socially distanced” (to put it mildly) joint houses of congress. This was followed by the institutionally de rigueur rebuttal speech by the opposing party. Both were meant primarily for the prime time television viewing audience. That kind of explains the institutional requirement of a follow up address by the party opposed to the president. Which makes little sense in an age when folks can choose where and when to “tune in” on a device of their choosing. Also the institutional obligation to have a party in opposition. Analysis finds it not so hard to imagine both, if not multiple parties, without opposition but difference. But back to the visuals of the two events. Front and foremost was that of the addressors, one an old white guy, the other a young black guy. Background is important. It contributes context (which is why all those weathermen get blown over standing outside in a hurricane, or wading with alligators during a flood). Behind President Biden were the official government trappings of our representative democracy. These consisted of the leaders of the house and senate as well as one big flag which back dropped all three. Any head-on shot showed the flag behind the president even if it didn’t show Speaker Pelosi or Vice President Harris. The president always had a red or white stripe rising up vertically behind him. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s background consisted of the mandatory flag, only this time it was in the multiple. The surprise wasn’t the number, or kind (there were flags of the US as well as SC), but the angle at which they were presented. It was hard not to notice as one was forced to continuously “adjust” the upright Scott to the skewed backdrop while following his address. It was impossible not to notice that the multiple flags were arranged as a backslash diagonal (\), with the head of the flag starting above the speaker’s right side and sloping to his lower left. Coincidence? Was the senator leaning to the right?  It was hard to tell since, other than the senator himself, there was no vertical visual in the image field (such as a podium). Analysis concludes this was deliberate, and symbolic. Much as Scott’s address relied on flag, family and religion without any point by point rebuttal to the previous presidential address of specific policy proposals, so the special effects  folks at the opposing party relied on symbolic presentation to carry through this absence of any reasoned conversation (or argument). Multiple flags for multiple America’s. State flag given equal space and arrangement with national flag. Right at the top with left near the floor. Etc. Why the emphasis and reliance on symbol? Analysis finds it is precisely because symbols elide and negate reasoned conversation (debate) that they are employed as a means of political propaganda. The symbol embodies all kinds of feelings and fuzzy imagining, but only to the chosen ones who recognize it. Voila! Scott can say on television, in a short time spot, what cannot be verbalized in reasoned debate (conversation). So the backdrop contributed to the baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet speech, successfully creating a unified visual reply without voicing any kind of policy proposal as to why or why not.

Official Apology From The Ministry Of Information

June 14, 2020

There is a need for context with today’s blog posting. Autocratic governments around the world have historically, as well as currently, maintained official news outlets where the official government interpretation of what is considered official reality is asserted. The rest is dismissed as, officially and literally, fake news. Some of these news outlets are run through official government offices of information, etc. Others are government franchise “autonomous” enterprises whose primary existence is to be the government mouth piece. Most in the US don’t approach news in that manner. Between a mix of freedom of the press and Walter Cronkite, with a dash of radical marginalized outlets, the news is treated as a work in progress of contemporary history, a fact checkable reality. What could be official? The contemporary autocracy in America rearranges that outlook. With its emphasis on privatizing anything and everything official that it can, the current administration eschews an “official” line, preferring instead for a popular origin located and affirmed through private news sources (a Wall Street Cronkite nightly report, of sorts). Many sources have reported what was originally uncovered by the Seattle Times. June 13, 2020, Jesse Drucker headlines for the NY Times that “Fox News Removes a Digitally Altered Image of Seattle Protests Fox News acknowledged that one photo was a combination of several images, and a second was taken in a different city.” Notable in the report of what The Seattle Times had scooped: “On Friday, Fox posted on its site a photo of a man armed with a rifle standing in front of the shattered glass of a storefront. The Seattle Times noted that it was a combination of several different photos from Getty Images taken over nearly two weeks. Also on the website, Fox also posted a nighttime photo of a burning storefront and car, accompanied by the headline “Crazy Town” and a list of articles on the unrest in Seattle. But that image was taken in St. Paul, Minn.” Drucker also gave the official response: “In an editor’s note now accompanying the articles, Fox said the now-deleted image was a “collage” that “did not clearly delineate between these images, and has since been replaced. In addition, a recent slide show depicting scenes from Seattle mistakenly included a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota. Fox News regrets these errors.”” Since 2016 Fox News has been functioning as the de facto ministry of information for the Trump regime; privatized, of course. The protesters may chant “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like.” Well, Fox News is what privatization looks like for an official ministry of information. In the 5-28-20 post entitled “Decision 2020” Analysis referenced Latour’s Iconoclash and “Why do Images Trigger so Much Furor?” The original meaning of collage is given as “a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric onto a backing.” The origin of the word “propaganda” is given as “Italian, from modern Latin congregatio de propaganda fide ‘congregation for propagation of the faith’” Propaganda? Art? Or both? Fox news: We report, you decide.

The Wartime President

March 22, 2020

Anyone tuning in to catch the evening news Sunday, March 22, 2020, couldn’t help but view the latest episode of The Wartime President. Analysis isn’t interested in critiquing this episode, or the show itself. However, granted that The Wartime President usually airs daily around noon, it was quite curious that the Sunday edition entirely displaced the evening news so precisely, same time, all channels. In these days of self-isolation, the evening news is one of the view real time connections left on television (everything online is always available as now but rarely real time). The Wartime President show is complete political kabuki, all the way down to its “spontaneous” press conference incorporated to look genuinely informative. Analysis finds that in addition to the immense propaganda value of fabricating creation myths and rewriting history to serve the purpose of the Committee to Re-Elect the President, the show itself gives added value in uniquely powerful ways. Not only does it “make” itself the news but it gives the incumbent candidate for President free prime time air play. Sunday’s episode of The Wartime President had not a single commercial break for over an hour! The entire thing could compete with a paid for TV product infomercial. Where was Anthony Fauci? Short of mobilizing the War Powers Act, it likewise effectively took over complete control of all the nation’s Television News outlets. It determined what the nightly news would be, and how it would be presented. Analysis fears this may become a regular nightly show placing the nation’s media outlets on notice that they either displace their regular nightly news for the Dear Leader or face the consequences of being ostracized for failing to inform their viewers about what will keep them safe, officially, in this time of war. Analysis (along with multiple other critical thinkers) has cited Arendt’s admonition of an authoritarian regime’s need for a state of war to underwrite its legitimacy. Though brought to you by the same folks who gave us The Apprentice, the production of The Wartime President is a reality show that implicates an ongoing and tacitly accepted state of war.