The Sneaky Ninja Warrior On Your Subway Wall

“The vast majority of the world’s nations are virtually defenseless vis-à-vis the onslaught of Hollywood’s content.”

-Silvio Waisbord, Media and the Reinvention of the Nation

Today’s top three stories highlighted on the English version of are about anti-hunger efforts, Afghani elections, and Green Government.

On the French-language version of the site, stories focus on Hilary Clinton, the importance of global partnerships, UN Millennium goals, and how the US is finally starting to embrace nuclear power plants.

And on the Russian-language site readers are presented with an image of Obama making eyes at Medvedev during a non-proliferation talk, info about American students’ new image of Russia after visiting with their ballet troupe, and US forestry service work to preserve nature in CIS countries.

Now, staff members aren’t sneaky mind-control propagandaists- it’s not hard to identify the different messages they’re trying to send out. [Hey France!  We’re actually liberal and engaged in international partnerships and aren’t just angry war-making oil fiends!   And Russia, we don’t REALLY all think of you just as bad guys with missing nuclear missiles and leaky nuclear reactors. Except, hey, if you have either of those, we’re your friends.  You can tell us- we’re here to help! And, oh, look, I just happen to have this radiation detector right here in my bag… ]

And, SHOCKINGLY, is not the image of America that reaches the most sweet, impressionable minds.  Instead, as Waisbord mentioned, we have Hollywood, McDonalds, Nike, and (oh, fortunate us,) Snookie.

Here is where Waisbord’s media-as-a-nation builder intersects with that Ukrainian radio which couldn’t be turned off:

What we see every day – the images on street signs, the music playing from a passing car, the amount and color and shape of the world around us – enters into our consciousness, shaping more than just opinions… shaping what we think about, and what we fail to think about.   Watch this youtube video to see a carefully planned example of subliminal messaging in action. (Beware: you’re about to contract paranoia) (

What’s interesting is that globalization-paranoids haven’t been proven correct.  As Waisbord details “there is no persuasive evidence that the media, regardless of other conditions, are able to induce and perpetuate long-term cultural transformations.”  We haven’t all become one homogeneous culture. Why the heck not? may not be stealthy ninja propagandaists, but little pieces of culture that slip around in magazines, clothing, what kind of paintings are on your subway walls, etc, ARE. How deeply ingrained is culture/religion/identity?  Is it somehow filtering the constant stream of messages we’re receiving and shaping that data into something that fits its ideology?

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One Response to The Sneaky Ninja Warrior On Your Subway Wall

  1. Claire says:

    Subliminal messaging is a great topic to consider, and relates to the discussion on “banal nationalism” — the everyday images which shape the way we view our or other nations. Even if we don’t consider the context, the way nations are portrayed in the media relate directly to how we view our ‘nationiness’ (to steal a word from Stephen Colbert)! These messages of subtle nationalism also become subliminal messaging that seems so natural to us. Much in the way that the seemingly everyday drive across London added to their creative message without them even realizing, the media that we absorb on a daily basis adds to our relationship that we feel with our community in a way we hardly realize. Thus, the type of media we consume, be it the BBC, Fox News, or our local news channel, all has a slant towards one point of view or another. We watch content that we can relate to. My question is, does this then create an ‘us versus them’ mentality among people? Can we become so entrenched in this particular view that we refuse to see beyond to the rest of the world? I’d say there is some potential for this to occur, and is why we will never be one homogeneous culture, but also contributes to the conflict we see in the world.

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