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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are we more like puppets than we think?

How often do we think about propaganda? Often times it seems outdated, we associate this term with Nazi Germany, Anti- Woman Suffrage in 1909, or Rosie the Riveter. But, if we don’t think about how propaganda emerges we wouldn’t think twice about the visual representations painting the world we live in.
When we think about history and the times when propaganda emerged words like war, depression, and disaster surface. It seems safe to say that propaganda gains an immense amount of power during times of CRISIS. It helps relieve people’s fear and anxiety with comfort and control. But, is it real stability? In Nazi Germany it wasn’t, it was cruel. During woman’s suffrage it wasn’t, it was cruel. Can we look past even the simplest form of propaganda to see the true intent? Are we being manipulated today in this current time of crisis?
In an article called, US Army Recruitment at the Mall With Video Games Jon Hurdle reports on this updated hazardous recruitment strategy costing 12 million dollars, it “looks like a cross between a hotel lobby and a video arcade.” He says,
The U.S. Army Experience Center at the Franklin Mills shopping mall in northeast Philadelphia has 60 personal computers loaded with military video games, 19 Xbox 360 video game controllers and a series of interactive screens describing military bases and career options in great detail.

Potential recruits can hang out on couches and listen to rock music that fills the space.
Hurdle goes on to describe the different rooms all including high tech video games seeking to replicate the experience of war. One room has a real Humvee military vehicle projected on a 15-foot tall battleground with deafening sound effects. Another room plays out an attack using an Apache and Blackhawk helicopter.

Do most, especially young recruiters, view this arcade in the mall as propaganda? It trivializes war and convinces recruiters that war is fun. In a video game, the player is protected in front of the screen, at a distance, connected by a remote control. After effects of depression, anxiety, shell shock and physical disabilities do not even play a role. Recruits are put in a relaxed environment and taught to believe war is for them. They are taught to be killing machines, killing all insight.
James J. Kimble in Whiter Propaganda? Agonism and “The Engineering of Consent,” discusses the roles an internal protagonist and external antagonist play in the means of propaganda. He says, “domestic propaganda that constructs both protagonist and antagonist is at the very least an invitation, one that suggests to its audience that its way of viewing the world is at once rational and logical.” The U.S. Army Experience Center is a form of domestic propaganda constructing a protagonist US player and antagonist Iraq player. There is a limited scope in which to view war. This is not the kind of place to question both sides of a war. Soldiers are taught to want to be the protagonist and kill the antagonist through a game. And how is this influencing our army? Do we want our soldiers to be trained with a limited scope? The fear is that they won’t join with the appropriate knowledge.
And so, propaganda lies in casual nooks and crannies manipulating the world around us. If we do not think twice about it we will become ignorant or worse…
Krystle Aldana
Photo credit- Political Humor


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