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Videocracy: Media Control & Mind Control

Topics: Popular Media | 1 CommentBy admin | September 12, 2009

How Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi controls public sentiment by controlling television

I’m looking forward to seeing Videocracy, in spite of the fact that many sources – Variety, for instance – are giving it rather mediocre reviews. The film, by Swedish film director Erik Gandini (who also brought us Gitmo – The New Rules of War), explores the evolution of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s political power in Italy, which has largely been fueled by his near-total control of the media. Although most early reviews describe the movie as being light on hard facts and meandering in content, I’m looking forward to it the way one might look forward to a Michael Moore film: the facts may be skewed, there may be a significant lack of objectivity, but the subject matter is certain to provoke some thoughtful conversation, and probably needs to be brought to the broader public’s attention. I personally knew a little about Berlusconi’s almost cartoonish gangster/macho Italian style of leadership, but was completely ignorant of the fact that he had such a tight grasp on Italian television. After the bizarre shift in American values over the past decade, largely fueled by a media that catered to the propagandizing of the Bush administration, one can almost imagine one or more of the NeoCons having gotten their inspiration while vacationing in Italy and watching Berlusconi in action. If you doubt the power of television being manipulated as a powerful tool to shape popular sentiment, review and ponder some of the campaigns distributed by the Ad Council over the last few decades. More recently, the spots created early in the Bush administration’s paranoia-inducing “war” on terror, spots like those in the “What if America wasn’t America?” campaign – like Library, Diner and Church – helped convey that feeling that some mysterious enemy was trying to steal our freedom and we needed to go get that enemy, even if we had to create it. Remember, the Ad Council also brought us Rosie the Riveter, Smokey the Bear, McGruff the Crime Dog, and the Crash Test Dummies, some of the most enduring images in American popular media. Although the campaigns were all brilliant in their own ways, one has to wonder if their sheer pervasiveness has perhaps not perhaps been the more important factor in their success. If, like I am, you’re obsessed with this kind of media, the Ad Council has a YouTube Channel. And look for Videocracy in limited theater release until it’s available on DVD. In the meantime, I’m going to watch the moronic Idiocracy again, to prepare myself for the coming Idiocalypse.

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