Friday, November 19, 2010

Now, I'm really mad!


Now, I'm really mad!

Last night, I wrote about something that has bothered me for about a year and some of my dear blogger friends came over and read about "The Foundation for a Better Life", their spots on TV and their billboards about life values. The first link I put up was one I found last January about this organization. You can still investigate their crap stuff at http://www.ctheory.net/, but amazingly enough, the link I had supplied disappeared by this morning. I swear to you that the stuff was there last evening, as I wrote the blog and had been there all year. The second link http://www.values.com/ is still up and running with the propaganda they wish to spread all over the world. (It is available in ten languages) I really wanted y'all to read the stuff they have been bruiting about on the net, so being a true anal retentive type woman....I just happened to have copied a bit of their "stuff" last year and saved it in My Documents. The editors of this site are Arthur & Marilouise Kroker, who have published a ton of things concerning various nefarious doings on the net. If you Google them, you can see that some people are publishing things with a political agenda so advanced that we ordinary people are just not quite smart enough to understand how dangerous they are. Please read the following article that I was bright enough to save last year, before they wiped it out this morning. The very idea that it was removed scares me....and I hope it worries you, too.


(The misspellings and poor language usage are theirs, not mine)

The Foundation for a Better Life Website: A Critical Archeology
Patient Iteration of the Message
The Foundation's website (www.forbetterlife.org) contains several subpages linked off the home page. They are "Values," "Good News," "TV Spots," "Billboards" and "About FBL " (a generic mission statement). Clicking on "Values" brings up a page in which a facsimile of a continuous celluloid film strip (in frames) is exhibited; each miniature image frame (over a scroll bar) is captioned with a "value." (There are fifty-two "values," mirroring the number of cards in a typical deck). Typical value captions over the visuals are "Appreciation," "Class and Grace," "Compassion," "Cooperation," "Gratitude," "Hard Work," "Loyalty," "Right Choices," etc. When the web surfer clicks on a caption or its associated image, the graphic (Flash) opens into a new screen. The new screen displays a larger iconic image originally seen in the filmstrip frame. (Many of them are reminiscent of psychological projective test imagery). Then a short story on the selected "value" comes to the fore, such as the of the one below (graphically composed with an image of a son and father fishing on a small boat):
Patience
My fondest memory of my Dad occurred one summer day out in the middle of a mountain lake. "Don't jerk it. Just reel it in real slow," my father whispered. But it was so difficult. I hated to wait for anything. I usually took forever to decide what I really wanted, but once I decided, I wanted it right now. And right now I wanted to catch a fish.
My father seemed to sense my impatience. "The big ones didn't get that way by snapping the first thing to hit the water," he said quietly. "You'll soon find that anything big and worthwhile usually takes a lot of time." Then, with a smile that I will never forget, he added, "After all, I've already spent twelve years on you."
"The values we live by are worth more when we pass them on . . . [7]
The phrase, "pass it on" (as a linked icon) surrounds the story on three sides, as it does for almost all of the fifty-two parables of values on the site. This perpetually repeated suggestion to "pass it on" finds an echo in a famous 1928 essay on propaganda:
Winning people over to something that I have recognized as right, that is what we call propaganda. Propaganda stands between the idea and the worldview, between the worldview and the state . . . At the moment at which I recognize something is important and begin speaking about it . . . I begin making propaganda. At the same moment, I begin looking for other people to join me. Propaganda is nothing other than the forerunner to organization. Once it has done this, it is the forerunner to state control. It is always a means to an end.[8]
The narrative that surrounds this particular "virtue" of patience also unintentionally announces pieces of the methodology and tactics of the Foundation's campaign: These general tactics are patience, and repetition and iterative spread of the message ("pass it on"). This constant exhortation mirrors Goebbels' statement that such "clear" ideas "seek escape through the mouth." But the similarities between the FBL's campaign and Goebbels' ideas doesn't end with these general prescriptions:
Targeting the Message to Multiple Audiences
Propaganda adjusts itself to the prevailing conditions [and] is always flexible. That means that propaganda cannot be limited [because] it changes according to whom I am trying to reach. Propaganda should be popular, but not intellectually pleasing . . . The propagandist's speeches or posters that are aimed at farmers will be different than those aimed at employers, those aimed at doctors will be different than those aimed at patients. . The task of leaders and followers is to drive [our] knowledge ever deeper into the hearts of our shattered nation. [9]
This flexibility is mirrored by the diversity of deeply aestheticized and idealized racial, ethnic and class images, coupled to equally idealized narratives, targeted to different audiences on the Foundation's values sub page. As Guillermo Gomez-Pena notes, they clearly echo
a 'benevolent' form of multiculturalism [that] has been adopted by corporations and media conglomerates across borders, continents and virtual spaces. And our major cultural and educational institutions have followed suit. This global transculture artificially softens the otherwise sharp edges of cultural difference, fetishizing them in such a way as to render them desirable. [10]
And, as Gomez-Pena laments, the propagandists of this "new" capitalist multiculturalism have outsmarted "us" by so cleverly disguising the serious social contradictions and covert violence under the surfaces of these images and intended messages. It is equally obvious that the Foundation's hired and pro bono spin meisters have also learned from them. The Foundation appropriated, in the billboard portion of the campaign, some of the best recognized and diverse icons of 20th Century and contemporary millennial culture: Winston Churchill and Shaquille O'Neill; Mother Teresa and Whoopi Goldberg; Abraham Lincoln and Muhammad Ali; the 1989 photo of an anonymous Chinese student trying to halt a line of tanks into Tiananmen Square and hockey great Wayne Gretzky. In some of these, historical images of defiance to a repressive state apparatus (Tinanamen Square, Ali's refusal of the Vietnam-era draft, for example) are recoded as embodying consensual, conventional and "prosocial" values. The recoding of icons (the reframing, and often the inversion, of denotative and connotative meanings) is a constant, even a defining feature of the Foundation's website. But beneath the inscription of structural-functionalist themes onto postmodern life lies a genealogy of money, and power.

5 comments:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

that's some strange stuff honey!

hugs, bee
xoxoxoxoxoxo

"Lois Grebowski" said...

Whenever I saw those ads my mind immediately transported to the rise of communism and state-sponsored values in those old posters. Words like proletariat and the like pop up.

Yep, propaganda. Cleverly disguised.

Amazing Gracie said...

You like Echo Herron! Yay!!! I read your post on Sarge's blog - about the TSA, and I read your post about the Opera. It seems we have a lot in common...
Good reading here.
~~~Blessings~~~

Anonymous said...

http://www.theportlandalliance.org/2002/april/billboard.html

check this link out chica...very very interesting

T.

Anonymous said...

and i think this is the post that was removed..


http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=353
Dion Dennis is Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology/Sociology, 
Texas A&M University - Kingsville, System Center San Antonio.