Desensitization Through Television Programs And Commercials
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:9, NKJV). Another technique used stemming from the amalgamation of propaganda and mind manipulation, is “Bypassing Reason.” Ordinarily a person will analyze a piece of information before taking action.
They receive the information, they use reasoning then analyze the information, weighing the pros and the cons and finally take action to whether to accept or reject. However, when it comes to human beings, there is the emotion factor that plays a key part in making a decision. Emotions can be manipulated in a way that will take over reason, even though emotions were designed to support reason. Emotions increase joy at joyous events; bring out sympathy during times of bereavement or display anger under attack. Emotions are designed to be subordinate to reason, but if emotions get out of control, there is no reasoning. Manipulation can cause reason and roles of emotions
to reverse in normal people. It is possible to bypass reason in advertising, because emotion-manipulation and propaganda techniques are interlinked. This is how it works: the mind is fed the Contrived Information or advertisement; the Emotion-dominated Reasoning, then the Emotion-dominated Analysis, and finally, Emotion-controlled Action (Philip, 014 p. 10).
This simply means that reason (objectivity) is overtaken by emotions. This is generally done by the use of cunning and loaded words that are design to bypass reason and hit the emotions like a dart on the bull’s eye with manipulation. Catchwords and deceptive phrases permeate advertisements and all forms of media with the agenda of touching the emotions to win over support. How many times have you cried when you sat and watched a “feed the world” type of program? It is possibly a worthy cause deserving of all that you send in, however, the program is still designed to bypass reason and manipulate your emotions.
In a book entitled Mediaspeak, (2001); written by Roy F. Fox, there are several methods of speaking used in persuading an audience, two in particular are “doublespeak” and “salespeak.” Both are design to be deceptive and persuasive. Doublespeak is communication that is obscure, arrogant, vague and confusing. Its intention is to make that which is bad sound good or inviting; “Doublespeak is slippery. Although it often communicates a big fat lie, it more often nips at or shades the truth rather than telling obvious, black-and-white lies” (p. 48). Salespeak is perhaps more believable because it involves presenting facts that include logic, language and numbers to dominate the message. Exactly what you might see in a “feed the world” program or medical related
commercials. Generally, they will use words like “statically” or “4 out 5 doctors believe” to convince their audiences that the majority supports their products. Salespeak can be persuasive directly and indirectly, especially to buy into political candidates’ beliefs, values and lifestyles. This type of persuasion can also entertain and permit escapism “as an end in itself, where we are more focused on the experiences surrounding consumerism (e.g., browsing through an L.L. Bean catalog) than we are on actually purchasing something. Salespeak occurs when messages are crafted so as to ‘hit’ a specific, ‘targeted’ audience. Therefore, salespeakers collect and analyze information about their audiences to help them shape their messages” (p. 87).
In the opinion of David Chilton, author of Productive Christians In An Age Of Guilt-Manipulation (1981), his view of advertising is a little skewed. He states that advertisers’ reason for slick, sugary, gross, stupid or infuriating tactics in their commercials is because, this is what the public wants. “The advertiser’s job is to inform potential buyers of his product.
He must get the information to them in such a way that they will not miss it” (p. 135). Using these tricks are the only way to gain the attention of the consumers, is very difficult to believe. As Christian consumers, we have a right to watch television programs with the invasion of commercials that are decent. Sure sex, inflated tales and fantasies sell, but they are not necessary. Quite naturally the advertisers have to sell their product, but many commercials are extremely misleading.
They are not only selling their product, but also selling promiscuity when they display half-naked beauties that have starved themselves and have been airbrushed to perfection. When in advertising beer and wine, they forget to add how many people died due to alcoholism, drunk driving and abuse; but pleasantly remember to add the pretty girls, the party and the elusion that drinking makes one cool and accepted. They sell hopes and dreams of what is being viewed in the commercial far greater than the actual product. The consumer associates the product with the fantasy, and buy not because the product is good, but because of the hopes of the fantasy being fulfilled.
This happens to many people because all have fantasy-creating minds. Preying on this fact as an advertiser or propagandist is called Fantasy Manipulation, a manipulative technique where titillation and teasing is the heart of propaganda. Johnson C. Philip explains this volatile method in Analysis of Propaganda Techniques, (014) as a way of playing with the human sexual desires.
Out of all the emotions people have, Philip states that sexual feelings produce the greatest impact upon the body and the spirit. Fantasies in a sexual manner produce explosive emotions, causing the average person to loose common sense. “The theme of sexual gratification dominates the thinking until they can find relief” (p.7). This is an awesome device in the hands of an advertiser or propagandist. It is the usage of direct sexual overtones to catch the attention of the viewer by which manipulation takes place in the subconscious mind. Advertisers, propagandists and producers of television programs use sexual overtones in a similar way as discussed previously on repetitious exposure.
The first time being expose to particular sexual overtones may cause a Christian to be embarrassed or offended. Continued teasing becomes a turn on for the Christian. Gradually this continued teasing breaks down the resistance causing the viewer to be lured into buying a product, desiring to see a hyped program or to participate into some sinful act. How this is able to occur is explained by Philip, “Recent psychological researches have shown that fantasy might be powerful beyond imagination due to an added reason. It has been found that an average person speaks at the rate of 100 words per minute. The same person thinks at the rate of about 250 words per minute. But when he indulges in fantasizing, it becomes equivalent to about 1800 words per minute. Obviously, our minds will surrender and yield under such an onslaught of ideas flashing in such quick succession. When the power of animated TV pictures is added to it, the power to manipulate becomes incredible” (Philip, 014, p. 7).