“Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”
― Peter Hitchens
The only part of the human body which doesn’t benefit from being washed is the brain. But on average it gets washed more times than our hands.
Brain washing is a form of marketing. Selling. There are two kinds.
One kind is the hard sell you get from salesmen at car dealerships or advertising with special deals, discount prices and the like. Unvarnished capitalism; retail sales, where the rubber meets the road. There’s not much subtlety here; little in the way of subliminal messaging. Just exaggerate the features and benefits of your products. Now, bordering on subliminal messaging is timing; advertise juicy hamburgers and pizza at dinnertime, when stomachs are growling “Feed me!” And the old reliable; SALE!
The other kind of selling is far more subtle. Because it’s not selling products or services. It’s selling a way of perceiving something such as how a corporation, a person, a political party or politician, an industry, a religion or anything which lies outside the realm of a product or service. I know something about this. I practiced this special art for decades. Journalist Vance Packard described it in his book, “The Hidden Persuaders.” Persuaders? Bull. It’s unadulterated brain washing.
I and my cohorts were tasked with changing the way people think about certain products, services and issues: make them think a certain way, believe a certain way, whether or not that way was right, or true, or to their benefit. Often, it’s to repair negative perceptions of something or someone. In our particular case, it was done through the vehicle of national advertising. But there are many other ways.
In image messaging, subtle, almost subliminal layers are employed. Cultural overlays abound. An eye-catching message contains more than meets the eye. While stimulating images are the bait, cultural signals are the hooks. At its worst it’s political propaganda.
Let’s say that a few decades ago, somebody decided it was time for Americans to accept ideas which, culturally, traditional America had not accepted in the past. Take cigarette smoking; in one era it was portrayed as cool; done by rugged he-men, cowboys and celebrities, every third actor had a butt hanging off his lip, smoke drifting up into his squinting eyes, sexy ladies exhaled smoke into their admirer’s face. Then, cigarettes went out of fashion after millions were spent portraying smoking as seriously dangerous to smokers’ health. Now those same cultural forces which washed society’s brains with the dangers of tobacco smoking are brain washing gullible Americans with the virtues of smoking weed. Judging by the recent polls on the subject, the average American is believing. Again. Lining up to jump on the next cultural bandwagon, with little regard for where it may take them.
Let the message include all the “good” aspects which can be demonstrated about what is being sold. But let it not include the possible faults. Most people are not equipped to think critically. So, over time, they are seduced.
Mindless cultural forces have infected our national thinking to such a degree that our children are not being taught the essentials so much as they are being brainwashed. Today, by the time your little girl or boy reaches the age of ten, their still-growing brains have been washed, bleached, pressed and folded to the point that the kids will almost certainly grow up filled with counter-intuitive cultural ideas which most will not question.
Children, children! are being confused in schools by teachers asking them to “choose” their own gender identification. Or to behave like the gender opposite their natural gender. What can be more confusing to young kids and their parents than forcing them to think or act in an unnatural way; making them think about something not based on science or nature. This, and other subtle types of brain washing go on day after day in K through 12, and gets worse in higher “education.”
Today, for example, in cultural messaging, despite statistics demonstrating its many down-sides, single motherhood is portrayed as a normal, even desirable, part of American family life. Culture promotes inter-racial and same-gender coupling, and any number of “progressive” ideas; global warming, women in military combat, gun control. Or how pharmaceuticals are the answer to all your ills. Or something as blatant as increasing sales of alcohol by getting women to openly drink more booze. Portraying drinking in social situations as if it somehow makes women more alluring, more independent; gals just want to have fun. This type of brainwashing goes on throughout the whole gamut of social and cultural subjects.
Do manufacturers care about the cultural issues, or are they just using it for profit? Dumb question. This is capitalism.
Of course, blunt presentations of non-traditional ideas are almost always met with ridicule and hostility. At first. But inserting them, virtually subliminally, with an overlay of advertising or entertainment, over and over, has the long-term effect of changing attitudes, especially for younger malleable minds.
Our culture has turned upside down. America has abandoned her old mores in favor of new sentiments which have swept, like a devastating tornado, across our cultural landscape. Many cultural “trends” start out on the mean streets, in the closet, or dark basements, and gradually find their way into the raw sunlight of Main Street America.
How many everyday ads have you seen for a common product such as XYZ brand breakfast cereal, or soft drinks, fast-food, or whatever, portraying parents and children in a cozy kitchen, happily consuming XYZ. In earlier decades it was taken for granted that the parents and children would be portrayed by attractive actors, all of the same racial background, be they a white family or a black or Hispanic family. Nowadays, it’s mixed-race couples, and moms and children without husband-fathers. Not very long ago, these all would have been met very negatively by viewers. The XYZ corporate offices would have been inundated with letters from viewers threatening to stop buying the product. The company knew audiences were heavily skewed toward the majority white viewers. Depending upon the company’s sentiments, they might or might not drop these controversial portrayals.
Today, it’s the minority lobby groups which make the loudest and most threatening noise. If a company doesn’t recognize the minority’s particular issue, that minority will virtually threaten to bankrupt the company.
Oh, a commercial doesn’t directly address cultural issues. It doesn’t have to. They are right there, unspoken, digested by your eyes and washing your brain. Let it show up in commercials for food, restaurants, cars... over and over and over, and after the initial emotional reactions subside, the idea sinks in, the washing is complete, and audiences for the most part begin to accept these things as the “new normal.”
The ad purports to be selling breakfast cereal. And it is. But it’s also selling cultural change which you might not expect to find embedded in a message about flakes. Now some may ask which is the chicken and which is the egg. Does the commercial reflect societal and cultural change which is already happening, or is it somehow encouraging, selling, the change? The answer is both.
Certainly it makes sense for an advertiser to appeal to emerging markets; to be relevant. But how exactly does it make sense to ignore the sensitivities of the majority in favor of the minority when trying to sell products? Some marketers believe it’s expanding the user base. Again, illogical. Some subliminal cultural ideas turn off the majority, who in return may decide to stop using the product. In today’s ultra-sensitive culture, one never knows exactly who will be offended by what.
“In the business,” we always thought of it as being “edgy.” If there’s a new trend in fashion, music, relationships, whatever; the creative folks will glom onto it. Not necessarily because it sells a product better, or even brings more attention to the message, but because it satisfies the creative folks’ and some of the clients’ need to feel edgy. It can otherwise be a pretty boring business. But somebody in a position of authority in the ABC-to-XYZ advertising departments is championing the cause, so is perfectly happy to let it be part of their advertising messages. America’s new all-embracing brand identity.
Think of how this brain washing has impacted your own thinking. Examine the attitudes which you may have which are not really a product of your own thinking, but which were implanted by outside influences, influences on your way of thinking which you may never even have realized were a factor in your attitudes. Your challenge is to recognize the way you are being manipulated in virtually every facet of culture, including health care, finances and politics.
When this technique became more and more in demand by our clients, I decided it was time to lose the career or lose my soul.
If you are smart, you look beyond any attempts to have you think as someone else wants you to. You think for yourself. But you need to know how. You need to clear your thinking of what you have been fed by the culture all around you (almost always without you realizing it). Free yourself from tribal thinking. That is thinking according to what your tribe says you should think. This is cultural brain-washing at its worst. If you can’t do it, you have not reached your potential and you are not a complete person.
Remember: the only part of your body which doesn’t benefit from being washed is your brain.