Hollywood Manipulates through Movies
by Advaita Mihai Stoian
Art used as a tool for expressing ideas and transmitting messages of manipulation
Among other things, art has always been used for expressing ideas and notions. The strong aspect of art is that the transmission of its message easily penetrates beyond the rational barriers, going directly into the subconscious area of our being. This is also one of the reasons why the quality of art should become a subject of better awareness than it is at the moment. In this respect, movies are no different from other forms of art.
Movies have become an entire channel of transmitting messages to the public. Yet, there is a fundamental difference between the expression of some ideas in a rather neutral way and the manipulation of the public. The difference is in the fact that in the case of manipulation, the ideas being transmitted are not clearly presented to the public, they are hidden – the attention is directed elsewhere and the ideas are introduced through ”the back door” – whilst the conscious mind is focused on other things, the subconscious is left unguarded and passively assimilates the message. Today, movies are widely used for this kind of manipulation of public opinion. There are many arguments to prove this last statement but in this i will refer to only a few. This subject will be developed more in the future.
Methods of manipulation
One method of manipulation which is often used in film nowadays, is that of ”putting a face on an idea”. The method starts from the observation that everything that has a visual representation in our mind becomes familiar faster than something which remains as an abstract concept. Indeed this is just the result of the very low level of consciousness that people normally have today… but this is the situation and we deal with it as it is.
The ones who have a higher level can operate with abstract concepts as ones who have a materialistic view deal with material objects. In order to introduce an idea to the public, explaining it will not suffice, for people will forget about it in the next moment, lost in the maze of their desires and perceptions. Even if we come with the most powerful explanation’s they will still not accept it as a common reality and tend to remain on the old concepts. However when they can have an image about that concept and they can relate to the visual representation of it, then the concept becomes credible and they will accept it as a part of their inner reality.
This manipulation technique that are used in many movies today identifies an idea with a character, and then, through the audience’s sympathy towards that character, the idea is assimilated directly into the subconscious. That idea is not accepted because of its own value or on the basis of considering the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’, and it does not appear to be the subject of the movie as it is disseminated using the manipulation of a subconscious psychological mechanism. This is very much like the scam’s that take place in the circus, when the illusionist is doing something with one hand that steals our attention whilst in the other hand he is preparing the trick that is outside our attention. The subject of the movie catches our attention while the character that we start to like introduces some ideas and life principles that we would otherwise never accept if directly presented to us.
One example of the use of this technique is found in the movie Body of Lies ( (played by Russel Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio). In this movie there are two characters, (played by Russel Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio) each representing a different perspective in a discourse on whether it is acceptable to manipulate and use people in order to fight terrorism. However, both perspectives rely on the basic assumption that terrorism exists as it is presented and is a real danger. This movie draws our attention to the debate on what is and is not moral in the war on terrorism, and while we pay attention to that, it introduces the perception that terrorism is indeed a reality and the war on terror is a necessity. There is no question regarding the sanity of the whole concept of “war on terror” or the fight of terror with terror. In this way, the movie creates a paradigm based on a perceived reality of terror. Once this paradigm is accepted, further discussions on the topic are of secondary importance because the idea that was manipulatively introduced to the public is already there. No matter how we find this war’s morality, we will do it and the profit from it goes where it was meant to go by the ones that originally initiated such movie.
The two characters – C.I.A agents – (Lenardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe) depict a reality in which manipulation is perceived as being conducive and, arguably, even necessary if the public interests request it. Most people normally consider such a perspective to be totally absurd and unbelievable. Yet through the agency of these two characters – portrayed by the actors with great skill, turning them into powerful and credible figures which the audience can understand and even identify with – the reality which they represent becomes easily acceptable to the public opinion, their work becoming interesting and easy to explain. One condition for the technique of manipulation based on this mechanism to work is: the characters have to be very natural and credible, therefore great actors are needed and much effort in producing a virtual reality that is “alive”. This is also why such productions – even if carrying very strange messages – are heavily promoted and internationally awarded in order to give them glamour and credibility.
Another character in the movie, the terrorist sheik, puts a face on the image of ”the terrorist”. We have all heard about terrorists in the news, yet we have rarely been shown any, which gives the terrorists an increasingly vague image. Most people find it hard to understand what kind of mentality would determine a human being to engage in terrorism, and this makes the image of ”the terrorist” become less and less credible to the public. The character of the sheik in this movie resolves this ”problem” by putting a credible face on that obscure (and imaginative) public menace, presenting it as a real person with motives, history and mentality that we can understand and we can somehow (even if poorly) link with some terrorist activities. Due to the realism of the movie, the public usually overlooks the fact that the sheik character is, nonetheless, only imaginative and manipulative. After seeing the movie you can put a “face” on the “terrorist” and on the “good guys” that sometimes have to use ‘bad’ methods for higher purposes. In a sneaky way the whole war on terror gets an image that looks a little more credible because it comes alive in front of our eyes, while we are following the particular story of the movie.
Other examples of manipulation techniques are used in the Israeli animated documentary film ”Waltz with Bashir”. This movie was nominated for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film (another way to push forward the manipulative method: supporting the production to reach the top of the film hierarchy using the network of jewish film producers and directors). In this movie, the subject of Israel’s responsibility for the 1981 Lebanese war, and in particular for the massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps, is associated with the image of one Israeli soldier, who, some 20 years later looks back at the events with a guilty conscience and makes a documentary about his own story. That person is portrayed in the movie as regretful and generally as a positive figure, and therefore, the audience can easily identify with him and ”forgive” him. Even though the movie addresses the subject of Israel’s responsibility for the events, the fact that these events are linked to that specific person, means that in the mind of the viewer the attitude towards the version is projected also towards the subject itself.
Therefore, the public opinion that this movie creates is of ”forgiving” Israel for its part in the Lebanese war. Having an objective look at the events as they appear in the movie (and subliminally introduced to the viewer), the guilt of the Israeli army for the massacre is minimal and can be easily doubted. At the end of the movie you get the feeling that it was just a mistake made by someone and the whole scandal is unfair. In this way the responsibility for the whole massacre of the refugees camps in 1981 Lebanon war is taken away in a manipulative way from the Israeli army by using this technique. Note: the official stand of Israel on this subject is distinctly different from that of the Israeli soldier/director of the movie, but this doesn’t stop the process of projection from taking place in the mind of the viewer. That is the point with the manipulation: to create another version in peoples minds that will make the official version ready to change in the right moment.
Another film in which this manipulative technique is used is ”The Day After Tomorrow” (with Dennis Quaid). In this movie, the notion of climate change as an immediate threat to humankind is depicted through the personal story of the hero of the movie – the meteorologist (played by Dennis Quaid). While the audience follows the plot, their minds are fixed upon the drama of the character, they assimilate the reality which is seen through that character’s eyes – climate change. Indeed, this movie was a highly significant tool for promoting the topic of climate change in the public – but all this was done without quoting any scientific research. It was amazing for me to see how this movie triggered another public opinion about climate change.
Before the movie one can hardly hear about this debate, and even if it was a debate it was immediately falling into oblivion because the public cannot depict this notion of climate change. After the movie, the whole perception of the topic of climate change took another turn. The movie was heavily advertised in most of countries and the story of the meteorologist is very much alive. The public really got “a face” on this climate change phenomenon. Later, putting ‘the cherry on the cake’ came Al Gore’s “An inconvenient truth” . but even so, as a contrast to these coherent and powerful images about the climate change, lets remember the pathetic failure of the UN expert panels that were disclosed (during the Copenhagen climate change conference) with hidden data and cynical lies about the real climate change patterns (see the debate about the e-mails that were published and later confirmed by some of the authors as being authentic). On top of this we have the strange outcome of the biggest conference on earth, problems that did not even have a final end agreement. Can you imagine what would have been COP 15 in absence of “Day after tomorrow” movie to prepare it?
A new example of this manipulation is the apocalyptic movie ”2012” (with John Cusack). By seeing it one can already discern the use of the same method of manipulation. The idea of a cataclysmic event in the year 2012 which will wipe out humanity is shown through the individual experience of the hero of the movie – (John Cusack) his struggle to survive, together with his family, becomes a symbol of humanity’s struggle to continue its existence. In this way, the audience becomes familiar with the scenario of a cataclysmic end to humanity as we know it. We can anticipate that following this movie, the public will become much more open to discussions on various cataclysmic scenarios and will become increasingly predisposed to consider them to be real threats to human existence. Perhaps we will witness the assembling of some international expert panels to investigate various data on the subject. This will contribute to the intensification of the atmosphere of fear (which already exists), further promoting the feeling of crisis. Today building up the crisis mentality is essential for those that are pulling the strings of power. This also brings with it a perception of the individual as being helpless in the face of such events and consequently it empowers a demand for the authorities to take charge and provide solutions to this problem. The greater the fear and the perceived threat, the more radical the solution the public is willing to accept, and this, let’s not forget, is happening even when the threat only exists on the movie screen.
The apocalyptic movie “2012″ is a part of a vast campaign of increasing the attention of the public upon natural catastrophes that might strike and keep them busy with these issues while the real economical catastrophes are set in place discreetly. This was also the point in putting an image and a clear scenario on 2012 events.
Of course the fundamental question that arises here is: how can one protect against these manipulative techniques, especially when the emotions that are triggered by these movies are so strong and we are usually so poor in dealing with emotions? The answer comes from the awakening of the SUPRAMENTAL structure, being able therefore to contemplate such movie from a SUPRAMENTAL state that will allow an objective view and the instant detection of all the patterns that might exist on the background of the movie. In this way, from the level of the supramental structure one is out of reach of the manipulative actions. See here the article about the Supramental.
Another Movie Using Techniques of Manipulation is “Shrek: The Final Chapter”. From the beginning these sequels were filled with all kinds of strange messages, putting a face to mediocrity. in the same way the gross character Shrek promotes the idea that being gross, primitive or ignorant is not such a bad thing, as if anyone was pretending that! Now the idea in this final chapter is even worse, in my opinion! Some background information: in the Tantric spiritual tradition the Supreme Consciousness has 10 fundamental manifestations or aspects, amongst them we find time, space, beauty, love… and one of them (named Chinnamasta in the Tantric tradition) is the Great Cosmic Power of Courage.
In human life this aspect of Superior Consciousness is manifested as the courage to confront yourself with your own limitations, the courage to stand up against your own mediocrity, the courage to say no to compromises. When this Divine energy manifests in the life of a person, that person has the courage to transform something and in the first moments of that transformation the person rebels against the old habits, the person suddenly has the revelation that his/her life is changing course.
This movie, shows the perspective of the main character ‘Shrek’ who faces a life of ‘eternal mediocrity’ and he stands up not wanting to accept it. Yet because he is tricked by some strange forces (the force here being represented by the character Rumpelstiltskin), he then realizes that his life could have been worse, and the life of all the people he knew would have changed for the worse without him. Apparently this conclusion is right, we are here in this life for a reason and maybe without us things would have been worse. However using that as an argument for not doing anything in the spirit of evolution and transformation is strange to say the least.
The movie insinuates (in fact is almost “shouts”) that its better to blindly accept things as they are, otherwise things will end up being worse! Since the end of the movie is similar to the beginning, any intelligent person should ask themselves: “what will happen if the feelings of unhappiness return and there is no longer the alternative of Rumpelstiltskin, because that alternative was ruled out due to the previous terrible experience?”
Realizing What You Have for the Moment Is Not the Reason for Remaining As You Are Forever
Evolution will knock on door sooner or later and you cannot always hide under the idea that you have already everything you need because otherwise it may get worse! The ideal world that is depicted at the end of the movie, with a false and exaggerated optimism that is actually based on ‘nothing’, reminds me of the ideal world that the freemasons want to create on this planet, their famous PAX MASONICA that is a remake of PAX ROMANA from ancient times. For the natural aspiration of people for transformation (transformation which will continuously transform the structure of power- dangerous idea for the establishment ;) ) the freemasons come with the simplistic argument of fear for the worst: “Take care, it could be worse”. This is the reason why sometimes they will allow a true independent democrat to lead a company, country or bank, because they then gather all the forces to make that person fail and to use the failure as an example to anyone who will try those revolutionary ideas again.
In the Shrek movie the real alternative which one will have when confronted with that moment of lucidity (depicted in the beginning of the movie when he realizes he is not happy with his life as it was), doesn’t appear at all. The alternative of the spiritual of transformation is covered by the play of the characters even if normally, the one who is unhappy with his life as it is will not go back to what it was before, because “what it was” will lead (in absence of transformation) to “what it is now” closing the circle (as in fact the movie shows). The one confronted with such resonance with the Divine Courage and as a result dare to look into his own life and even to challenge its paradigms will be also given the alternative to evolve and to transform for good what it is instead of this black and white alternative: you like this or you loose it.
The dirty trick the producers of Shrek are playing with the minds of viewers is that normally one will not deny the present life unless able to transform it, and when transforming it then it will not be the same but it will become better. That is why the choice presented in the movie is not even the real choice life presents to us, its just the choice we are made to believe by most of the hollywood movies.
Of course some will argue that Shrek is not back to where he started because now he appreciates what he has. This is a superficial argument normally covering the refusal to see the problem. Even if you realize from another perspective what you have, still there is a lot to do in order to improve it. The subliminal message of Shrek is “go back to your life and be happy with what you have, even if that is being a looser otherwise it could be worse”. Is that a message that will uplift the soul or inspire a child to grow to his aspirations? Or it is the message to give to the sheep that you want no trouble from?
I am looking forward for the main stream Hollywood movies that give a positive and inspiring message without using it as a hook for some dirty subliminal messages.
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