What comes to mind when you hear the word Propaganda?
Personally, I think of information that has a particular motive; whether it is good or bad. Two of my favorite definitions of propaganda include:
Propaganda is a form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of a population toward some cause or position. -Wikipedia
Another definition of propaganda that I find accurate is:
Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. -Garth Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell
Any way you interpret the word propaganda, it is everywhere in the world, and has been for a long time. Propaganda is in our news, information, advertising, and entertainment. As social media has risen over the past recent years, propaganda has become inevitable. This blog post will take you through 5 examples of propaganda in my life though different channels. These channels include: Advertising, Entertainment, Education, Government, and Activism. Starting with Advertising…
“Truth is a national campaign aimed at eliminating teen smoking in the United States. “truth” produces television and digital content to encourage teens to reject tobacco and to unite against the tobacco industry.”
In 2018, TRUTH has incorporated many celebrities into their campaigns to make them more effective and appealing. For example, recently, they partnered with LOGIC (pictured below), a Hip Hop Artist, to expose the truth on smoking.
On Truth’s website you can join the action by hash tagging “#WorthMore” to “tell Big Tobacco why you are worth more.” They offer many free statistics and quizzes to test your knowledge about smoking and tobacco. You can also get involved by sending a message to someone from the military who is trying to stay strong while quitting smoking. Truth is a very interactive company that seeks to change the behavior of its audience. They seek to:
WE DON’T HATE. WE INSTIGATE.
The Truth Campaign fits the guidelines of advertising propaganda because as described, “Advertisers want to generate increased consumption of their commercial products and services by using a variety of forms of mass media and digital media to persuade readers, viewers, users or listeners.” Truth seeks to promote their services and ideals through their campaign. They are successfully doing this with their advertisements.
NEWS AND INFORMATION
In modern day we are surrounded by what the media calls, “Fake news.” Many people think President Trump is responsible for the term “fake news,” however, as I learned by completing a COM416 Media Lab activity, fake news has been around us since the beginning of media. Fake News is defined as, “a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain
financially or politically.” Fake news makes it hard for journalists to cover real stories because their material is overwhelmed by fake news. “An analysis by Buzzfeed found that the top 20 fake news stories about the 2016 U.S. presidential election received more engagement on Facebook than the top 20 news stories on the election from 19 major media outlets.” With fake news being so common, it is very hard to find a reliable source and a solid news story that is trustworthy.
THE INTERVIEW (2014)
Directors: Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg
The movie, The Interview raised a lot of eyebrows when it was released in 2014. This movie is about Dave Skylark and his producer, Aaron Rapoport – the two main characters – who run the tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” For their show, they land an interesting interview with a (unexpected) fan, Kim Jung-Un. When the CIA catches wind of this interview, Skylark and Rapoport are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang, for the interview, into an assassination mission. With a clear political aim, this movie was clearly set to expose North Korea as well as get a rise out of the country and their Dictator, Kim Jung-un. Doing its job, the movie created an uproar in North Korea. When the trailer was officially released, a spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry claimed the movie was “a most wanton act of terrorism and war.” Furthermore, this source said that the “gangster filmmaker” has incited “a gust of hatred and rage among the North Korean people and if the US Government allows the film to proceed, merciless countermeasures will be taken.” Soon after, movie theaters pulled the movie. When officially released, audiences were only able to view The Interview by streaming it online or buying it on demand. Director, Evan Goldberg’s statement on Korea’s reaction to the film: “Our stuff is in the news sometimes,” he continues, “But this is different – this is realnews.” In a Rolling Stone interview with Seth Rogan about the movie, he states: “It’s funny, because we’ve been in the world of North Korea for so long that when we heard it, we were like, ‘Yeah, OK,’ ” Rogen, 32, says. “They say crazy shit about America all the time. Literally, the opening scene of our movie is a little girl singing pretty much the exact thing they said about us.” He ties up his statement by saying, “At best, it will cause a country to be free, and at worst, it will cause a nuclear war. Big margin with this movie.” It is clear that these directors were trying to aim some political attention to what is going on in the world.
This propaganda works because as stated on the Where to Find Propaganda Worksheet, “Stories offer ideas and information about good and evil, right and wrong, thus embedding values and ideology into narrative form.” This movie uses comedy to reflect each director’s values on the current event in the world regarding North Korea and Kim Jung Un.
CRANSTON HIGH SCHOOL WEST: GIVE, GET, RESPECT.
The high school I went to, Cranston High School West (CHSW), located in Cranston, Rhode Island, was appointed a new Principal, Mr. Barberi, in 2012, the year before I graduated. When Mr. Barberi took over as principal, he changed the school’s motto to: “Give. Get. RESPECT!” With that, came a new school vision and mission. Our new vision stated: “Our vision is to be a top-ranked learning community that graduates productive, respectful citizens who are prepared to succeed in a global society.” The new mission stated, “At Cranston High School West, it is our belief that: We do not all arrive in the same manner, but we do all arrive at the someplace, Cranston High School West. Here, we all learn that there is no limit to our success; with hard word, dedication and respect, we can turn the impossible into the possible. Our school community is a family that helps us to develop our confidence and identities. Together and through our actions, we are prepared for our future. We are Forever Falcons.”
I graduated in 2013, however, as technology has increased, CHSW has advanced their propaganda with technology. For example, they have a twitter for the school as well as an account for the principal.
See below: Principal, Mr. Barberi’s Twitter, displaying school’s motto, “Give. Get. Respect!” in bio.
The description of Educational propaganda states: “From kindergarten to college, some forms of education are explicitly designed to lead people to accept a particular world view. Education can be a form of indoctrination when certain doctrines, ideas,
information, values and beliefs are not permitted to be questioned. Propaganda enters the classroom in many ways.” (Where to Find Propaganda Worksheet) As you can interpret from both the vision and mission, Mr. Barberi intended that the school embrace the ideals of respect and community. Without question, as students, we were to follow the new vision, mission, and live by the school’s new motto.
TEXTING AND DRIVING CAMPAIGN
AT&T: IT CAN WAIT
In 2014, AT&T started the “IT CAN WAIT” texting and driving campaign. They focused on educating the public on the dangers of texting and driving in order to put an end to texting and driving. One of their slogans was, “No text is worth a life…It Can Wait.”
AT&T took charge with their campaign by implementing a “No Texting and Driving Pledge.” This encouraged drivers to commit to never test and drive again by holding themselves accountable to a loved one. Drivers were urged to take the pledge at ItCanWait.com and then proceed to share their pledge on social media channels in order to get other people to take the pledge. This went along with the hashtag that promoted the campaign, #ItCanWait. Next, AT&T implemented a “driving behavior change,” which encouraged individuals to create a routine while driving to decrease temptation to text and drive. This was implemented to remind the driver of their pledge and signaled friends on social and on text that they are unavailable while driving. With that, they offered a free mobile app, called AT&T DriveMode offered for smart phones in which provided a customizable auto-reply message that would be received by anyone texting the driver. This notified the party that the phone user is driving and will respond when done. For the campaign, AT&T worked with filmmaker Werner Herzog to develop a documentary which included real stories of lives that were severely damaged due to texting and driving. The documentary was provided to every high school in the country and asked teens to spread the word by using the hashtag #ItCanWait. To deepen and further the campaign, AT&T implemented online simulators. An online simulator was available at itcanwaitsimulator.org to show viewers the dangers of texting and driving. The company showed dedication to their own campaign by having their employees take the pledge and advertise it. “More than 1,500 organizations, including USAA, Goodyear, the FCC, National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), National Safety Council and the U.S. Department of Transportation” were involved in this campaign.
This campaign falls under Government because according to the Where to Find Propaganda Worksheet, Government propaganda, “Often this involves the construction of messages that are oversimplified and that appeal to people’s existing beliefs and attitudes, sometimes exploiting their fears and prejudices.” Texting and driving campaigns often aim to install fear into people in order to change their behavior: not to text and drive. This campaign does this by saying, “it can wait” which is trying to make people fear sending a stupid text, as it is not worth their or anyone else life.
NOT MY PRESIDENT PROTEST (2017)
After Donald Trump was elected President of the United States in 2017, people began forming protests. In February 2017, a series of protests were held by people against Donald Trump. Cities across the country participated in “Not My Present’s Day” rallies preachinga strong anti-Trump agenda. Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City were few of the major cities that held these demonstrations. CNN reports “The rallies on Monday came amid what has been a fierce backlash from liberal grassroots groups to the Trump administration. That opposition has been voiced on a broad range of issues, including women’s reproductive rights, immigration, and climate change.” While reporting on this rally, CNN was able to interview one of the event organizers, Olga Lexell, who claimed that the events were intended to “show Trump there was widespread opposition to his policies and ridiculous executive orders.” While being interviewed, Lexell continued, “A lot of people are angry because he lost the popular vote and is ruling like somebody who won by a landslide.”
This protest is an example of propaganda because as the Where to Find Propaganda Worksheet states, “People who are trying to improve society or create social change use propaganda to influence public opinion. Activists try to promote social, political, economic or environmental change through using communication activities and public events that attract attention and influence people’s knowledge, attitudes and opinions.” This “NOT MY PRESIDENT” protest has clear motive of trying to reach the masses to influence opinions about President Trump. Furthermore, these protests were aimed right at President Trump and his administration.
Truth (anti-tobacco campaign). (2018, February 10). Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_(anti-tobacco_campaign)
Eells, J. (2014, December 17). How Seth Rogen Sparked an International Incident. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/seth-rogen-interview-north-korea-controversy-cover-story-20141217
(n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2018, from http://www.cpsed.net/chsw/
Texting and Driving…It Can Wait . (2014). It Can Wait . Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://www.att.com/Common/about_us/txting_driving/att_twd_fact_sheet0512.pdf
Levenson, E. (2017, February 21). Not My Presidents Day protesters rally to oppose Trump. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/20/us/not-my-presidents-day-protests/index.html
Fake news. (2018, February 10). Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_news