I’ve just been reading this article, Information Control For Social Manipulation, which looks at the links between the military, big business and Hollywood. There’s also an abridged version in the Feb/March edition of Nexus magazine. The online article is pretty long, but worth a look through if you’ve got the time and eye-power.
For me the gold nugget was;
“18.) On average, individuals in industrialized nations spend three hours a day watching television roughly half their leisure time; only to work and sleep is more time devoted. At this rate, someone who lives to be seventy-five would spend more than nine years of their life just watching TV. Why do we watch so much? In studies, subjects claimed that television was a means of relaxation, to which electroencephalograph (EEG) readings confirmed via brain waves, skin resistance and heart rates of subjects while watching television. However, even though relaxation is associated with TV by the viewers, research also has shown that passivity and a lowered level of alertness also correlate. Furthermore, once the television is turned off, the sense of relaxation dissipates rather quickly, but the passivity and lowered alertness remain for a considerable time.
”Within moments of sitting or lying down and pushing the ‘power’ button, viewers report feeling more relaxed. Because the relaxation occurs quickly, people are conditioned to associate viewing with rest and lack of tension. The association is positively reinforced because viewers remain relaxed throughout viewing, and it is negatively reinforced via the stress and dysphoric rumination that occurs once the screen goes blank again. Habit forming drugs work in similar ways. A tranquilizer that leaves the body rapidly is much more likely to cause dependence than one that leaves the body slowly, precisely because the user is more aware the drug’s effects are wearing off.“ Like a drug, heavy television use has long-term negative effects. Generally, heavy viewers are more easily bored, more easily distracted, have poorer attentional control, are less likely to participate in community activities or sports, and are more likely to be obese; they’re more anxious and less happy than light viewers in unstructured situations, such as doing nothing, day-dreaming, or waiting in line. ”The difference widens even more when the viewer is alone.“
Part of the human attraction to television has to do with our biological orienting response. ”First described by Ivan Pavlov in 1927, the orienting response is our instinctive visual or auditory reaction to any sudden or novel stimulus. It is part of our evolutionary heritage, a built-in sensitivity to movement and potential predatory threats. Typical orienting reactions include dilation of the blood vessels to the brain, slowing of the heart, and constriction of blood vessels to major muscle groups. The brain focuses its attention on gathering more information while the rest of the body quiets . In 1986 Byron Reeves of Stanford University, Esther Thorson of the University of Missouri and their colleagues began to study whether the simple formal features of television cuts, edits, zooms, pans, sudden noises activate the orienting response, thereby keeping attention on the screen. By watching how brain waves were affected by formal features, the researchers concluded that these stylistic tricks can indeed trigger involuntary responses and ‘derive their attentional value through the evolutionary significance of detecting movement . It is form, not the content, of television that is unique’ .
Annie Lang’s research team at Indiana University has shown that heart rate decreases for four to six seconds after an orienting stimulus. In ads, action sequences and music videos, formal features frequently come at a rate of one per second, thus activating the orienting response continuously.“ Perhaps its time we heeded the wisdom of Umberto Eco who once wrote, ”A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection not an invitation for hypnosis,“ (Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002; Boihem & Emmanouilides).”
Even if I thought I could before, I won’t be able to stare at the box in blissful ignorance again.
Also, a little chunk from point 25 is kinda interesting —
“E. Despite having made changes to characters in Independence Day (1996), the Department of Defense refused help because, ”the military appears impotent and/or inept; all advances in stopping aliens are the result of actions by civilians.“
F. Other films to have received assistance from the Pentagon are: Air Force One (1997), A Few Good Men (1992), Armageddon (1998), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Pearl Harbor (2001), Patriot Games (1992), Windtalkers (2002), Hamburger Hill (1987), The American President (1995), Behind Enemy Lines (2001), Apollo 13 (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and A Time to Kill (1996).
G. Some films that were denied: Apocalypse Now (1979), Catch-22 (1970), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Full Metal Jacket (1987), The Last Detail (1973), Lone Star (1996), Mars Attacks! (1996), Platoon (1986), and The Thin Red Line (1998) (Campbell, 2001, August 29; Weiss, 2002).”
I always had Independence Day pegged as coming straight from the bosom of the system, the indicator being that They seemed to give a copy away with everything for a while — ‘Hire two videos, get a copy of Independence Day‘, ‘buy a burger, get a copy of Independence Day‘. They did the same thing with The Last Starfighter. That kind of thing makes me wonder what it is that’s so worthy that everyone must see.
Oh, and Mars Attacks! a trouble maker? hehe.
Lastly, here’s some choice quotes short enough to memorise and pull out at functions thus guaranteeing you that attractively subversive air;
popular nazi propagandist, Joe Goebbels likened the media to, “a piano … in the hands of the government”, and that the media should be “uniform in principles” but “polyform in nuances”.
“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one” — A.J. Liebling
“When you are the monopoly supplier, you are inclined to dictate”, Rupert Murdoch
“Three hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets”, Napoleon Boneparte.