When I was young I loved cartoons of all kinds, ranging from Tom and Jerry to Popeye The Sailor Man to Dragonball Z. Through this simple, animated medium I saw continual rivalry, heroism and the power of spinach. A well-made series broke down larger, more complicated concepts in a way a child could understand and did so in an exciting and captivating manner. This being said, it would make sense for any group wishing to promote an agenda to use cartoons to communicate a message to a wide demographic. In the following cartoon, Dr. Utopia’s wonderful formula promises to cure all the ails of the America population.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/KkXTd9v56LQ" width="600" height="400" wmode="transparent" /]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkXTd9v56LQ
For the farmer it promised a great yield and favorable weather, for the manager massive profit and no strikes, for the politician government control and the ability to choose your salary, and for the worker higher wages and security. All each of these individuals had to do was sign on the dotted line and they would receive their bottle of ISM free of charge. The only person who chooses to question the contract is John Q Public. He discovers that the contract actually offers the signer’s freedom and that of future generations in exchange for ISM. When he tells the others to sample the product, they imagine a world of slave labor in which the government determines all and they have no power to retaliate. Ultimately, Dr. Utopia is run into the distance by the other characters as they hurl ISM bottles at him.
Through the oversimplification of both positions, the cartoon exalts American freedom and government while demonizing the ideals of communism. This is a feature of many of the films of the Cold War era we have read about and seen in class presentations. Furthermore, it continues to be a feature of the modern day media, especially in times of questionable governmental action. It is easy to unite against abstract forces that seem to be the root of all-evil, no matter which ISM they are. The media develops blanket terms that threaten our way of life and anyone who does not unite against the forces is deemed un-American. It is a divisive strategy that, on the surface, serves to give credibility to the actions of any group, especially the government. Recently a friend of mine directed me to an article I found most disturbing.
Simply put, it states that the Texas Board of Education is debating legislation that will alter textbooks in a radically conservative way. Among the proposed changes are decreased emphasis on the influence of the Latino population and the addition of country music as an important cultural influence (hip-hop is to be dropped from the list). More importantly, Texas sets standards for approximately eighty percent of the nation’s textbook market. Potentially this could alter the way children learn, inundating them with false and biased concepts about the nation’s history. In middle school we all learned about the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. We learned about his three ships and the first Thanksgiving. However, many of us did not learn about his massacre of the Native Americans rivaling that of any conquistador. Early education system tends to have a conservative slant, almost denying the atrocities the United States has committed in its history. It is yet another method to generate blind patriotism in the nation’s citizenry. It is only as I have developed a more cynical, yet pragmatic, view of the world that I have truly realized the half the media sounds like this underneath all the jargon and propaganda.