“All art is propaganda.”

George Orwell

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At first that sounds a bit absurd, mainly because we think of the word, “propaganda” in a negative context. Yet all it ultimately entails is a message to get us to change the way we feel, perceive or believe.

So yes, an artist, writer, anyone who communicates is engaged in propaganda. An artist can alter his or her message in many subtle ways to affect your perception. Let’s say a photographer and is doing a photoshoot with a model in a forest. If she wants to convey an esoteric message she might have the model in a dark robe in a state of reflection. If she wants to convey a divine femininity she might have the model pose nude against a moss-covered tree, with her face appearing as if she is in deep introspection. On the other hand if she wants to use contrasts to convey a goddess-like strength she might have the same model post nude with an outstretched bow with an arrow ready to fire at an imagined adversary (for those who have read my first book, “Freedom from Conscience – Melanie’s Journey” recall the scene where our heroine takes out a foe in the forest http://finest.se/jasmincroft/ ). Here you would have vulnerability and primal strength not in contradiction, but blending together to create a message.  And like in the other two shots, we understand the photographer selects scene, subject and message.  We see her vision through the final product; we ultimately see the world through her eyes.

Okay, so artists use propaganda, but aren’t the people in our media artists to a point? Don’t they employ the same techniques as our hypothetical photographer? The media chooses what stories to cover…and not cover. There is a lot of power in that. They also choose the message. How? Well, just like a director might shoot thousands of hours of footage for a movie, the ultimate proof of talent is how it can be edited and put together to give the audience a story. The media can select who they interview, what kinds of photographs you use of the subjects (bright and youthful pics of a politician, or something that looks old or sinister) and what questions they may ask, such as in a debate.  Also important are the words used to describe a politician – is he described as a devoted father or just “married with three kids?” Yes, all media, including is propaganda, but unlike the artist who is usually trying to provoke something deep in us, the media propagandist is often trying to manipulate us – we are manipulated by the commercials to buy products from their advertisers…is it any different with corporate-dominated newspapers and TV’s other fare, the “news,” except the product is more the ideas or values they want us to conform to?

There are an endless number of examples of what we are told we must believe in the mainstream media today – for instance, Putin and Russians are bad, America is always on the side of truth and justice in the world, the living standards of middle-class Americans are on the rise, and politicians care about the average working person as much as the representatives of trans-national corporations. Yes, all art is propaganda…but sadly all propaganda is art – and those who control most media today know their power, and use it to their advantage whether it is to get the public to buy a new toothpaste, or get them to hate/fear an entire people or nation.

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