“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 America.gov 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, America.gov 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, America.gov 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) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyQjr1YL0zg)
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?
America.gov 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?