Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PR as Cheerleading

Rah, rah, rah....

Propaganda is like cheer-leading. You appeal to the crowd, asking for loyalty, belief, faith, contributions and the like but -- especially -- enthusiasm.

 You want your team to win -- whether that team is a football, hockey, or baseball team, a company, a political party or organization, even a country. What you don’t want is for people to think -- you want unconditional, uncritical allegiance to a cause -- and that support must be emotional and irrational. Fortunately for propagandists, we are social animals and natural joiners:  the most part, we  “go with the flow rather than exercise our powers of reason. Reason is a tool. And tools are for work.

Think of the Super Bowl -- how much time and effort and money goes into propagandizing the value of a few hours of steroidal men in grotesque plastic armor and codpieces fighting over a little brown ball. Professional sports = health and fitness? Nah -- wishfullment for the millions of fat people umbilically attached to their TVs, siphoning booze and munching potato chips. For the athletes themselves -- heart disease and cancer at 40, Alzheimers at 50.

Shoulders widened by protection gear, crotches bulging obscenely thanks to protectors, football players are sexual parodies of masculinity.  The whole thing is very gay.   But the whole country shuts down to watch, for a couple of hours, no longer individuals -- but a mob, hungry for blood and victory and beer and junk food. It’s not winning that matters? But playing the game? Nonsense. We talk of the “wisdom” of the Crowd. Here, there is only madness. Advertising companies make big money selling this craziness to advertisers. They make over a billion from the Super Bowl. But most of their clients actually lose money, not only when you factor in the cost of advertising but in lost productivity. Both management and workers just aren’t focused on the job.

Rah, rah, rah
The crowd becomes a mob. And, while, the Super Bowl may be written off as harmless fun, except for the people beaten up in bar fights, mobs can be dangerous.

 “Willing suspension of disbelief” is fine in poetry but not in politics and religion. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were Super Bowls writ large -- but their effects were catastrophic. “Our boys” wore uniforms and armor just like the Super Bowl athletes…. They are our Spartans, who (by the way) encouraged gay bonding.

 Rah, rah, rah!

Our Middle East wars cost a huge amount of money, and the lives of over a million men, women and children -- immoral, illegal and stupid acts of international aggression -- but supported by most Americans, cheered on by the media with pundits doing cartwheels to show off their asses. Oh, how we like to see “our guys” kick ass. The day after the war began 76% of Americans were in favor, almost 60% “strong”. Just 17% “strongly” opposed it.

Those poll numbers changed, of course -- and nowadays, people blame the insanity of the 9/11 Wars on “misinformation” and “disinformation” -- and George Bush, whose responsibility is somewhat diminished by mental incapacity.  But propaganda never sold the American people anything -- it only orchestrated the cheering. 

Rah, rah, rah.

Lest we forget, the Game was scheduled long before the Twin Towers fell. The fans waited in line eager to get in the stands, impatient to pay any amount to get in -- other people’s arms or legs or heads or testicles -- and money for schools and bridges and healthcare. 

Propaganda may push buttons -- but who wired those buttons and put them in place? Maybe your family or your friends or your church or your school in the beginning -- but you are the one who does the maintenance and keeps the system running. We set ourselves up. All part of going with the flow.

Rah, rah, rah. 

No matter what Bush and his cronies what told the American people -- the truth was always out there. We turned on Bush because we lost the game. And we looked for a new coach. Bush was a neo-con: Obama just a con.

And now we have Ukraine. Once again, we support neo-Nazis and fascists, as we have done consistently in the past in the Middle East and South America. 

But we are losing. Once again, the Other Side must be cheating -- so their coach just has to be gay

Rah, rah, rah.

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