Manchurian Mean Girls

Hi everyone,

This is the video that my group (Maria, Jenny, Cham, and myself) put together! I hope you enjoy the subtle, maybe not too subtle, undertones of brainwashing that we mashed together with the Ladies’ Garden Society from “Manchurian Candidate” and a table scene from “Mean Girls.”

Why Believe in Paranormal Fraud?

I don’t know if you guys are aware of TED talks, but I am a huge fan. I find the website and the talks incredibly thought stimulating, like nothing else.

I recently watched this talk (posted above), by James Randi, a former stage magician and now a paranormal skeptic ( a cool career title, huh?). Since we just had a topic of supernatural activity in contemporary horror, I found it useful in relation to some of the movies we watched and topics we discussed. However, this is a little different, since Randi is not talking about a fiction world of the movies, he is talking about real facts and real people, who actually truly believe in supernatural forces and pay their very real money to come in contact with this make-believe world. And why are there so many people around the world convinced that this works? As Andy suggests, it’s because the paranormal activity is highly publicized to please sponsors.

If you think about it, there is sense in it. We watched all these movies like The Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity and the Sixth Sense. Well, just tell me you are not a least a little nervous to go get some water in your house at night in the dark now? Ok maybe you are not like me, maybe you are more sane. But really, would you travel to the woods at night after watching Blair Witch?? And now imagine that the next day after watching this movie you see a talk show, a documentary and read a magazine article about similar supernatural occurrences.In such a case, it’s all around, from different sources, must be somewhat more credible.

This is how psychics work, psychics just like legendary Sylvia Browne. They are publicized all over the place, they are talked about, and most importantly they play on people’s feelings. Just like Randi says, they take advantage of “innocent, naive and grieving” . Unlike movies made for entertainment, these frauds are not fun, he is right. They not only convince vulnerable people that what psychics are doing is true, but they also take fairly earned money for it, for fiction. So where is the line between fiction and reality? Why is it that people are having such a hard time distinguishing this line? Can it be that such movies as Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity work not only to entertain and scare people, but also to deceive and create more room for the multi million-dollar psychic industry?

Whether you believe in supernatural or not, watch the clip, you would not regret it. (James Randi also talks about homeopathy.)

Jesus Camp

After reading Stephen’s post, I was inspired to write about how children in the US are brainwashed. I had recently watched a documentary called Jesus Camp and I thought it was an excellent example of the indoctrination of children. It reminded me of The Manchurian Candidate and Melley article (Stephen covered most of the points so I won’t spit them back out).

The movie is basically about an evangelical Christian summer camp. Like the video below says, these children are training to become preachers or “warriors for Jesus.” As you can see, all the attendees of this camp are children.  Children are most susceptible to new beliefs and ideas. The pastor in this documentary also compares her teachings to Islamic schools that prepare their children for jihad.

Although this is not as extreme as the topic Stephen posted about, there are obvious signs of brainwashing. In the trailer (below), one of the boys was talking about how he was saved at the age of 5 because he wanted more out of life (:40 mark). When I was 5, I barely knew what life was; I went to school and had friends and family; that was pretty much it. I wasn’t thinking about what life had in store for me or if there was something more to life.

This next clip about Harry Potter pretty much speaks for itself.

I feel that it’s sort of over the top. Both the camp and the parents of these children are just pumping certain information into them and the children will obviously believe it all.  They home-school their children so they won’t be influenced by information that might be contrary to their beliefs and they even pray to a Christian flag, for instance.

So I was just wondering how you guys feel about this now that you’ve seen faith-based brainwashing in two different cultures.

Also, I recommend you watch it if you get the chance!

The TUBE: Can you handle the truth?

After looking at the blog assignment, a YouTube video popped into my head. It was over a year ago that my friend sent me this clip from the 1976 satirical movie “Network.” I didn’t think too much about it then, besides finding it ironic that the clip showed a man ranting against the “Tube” while being a YouTube clip. To provide you a bit of background, the movie is about tv anchorman Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch and how he is shaken by his network for his poor ratings. He goes mad while live on camera and his ratings skyrocket. The network then gives Beale his own show where he rants and raves. In this particular segment, he speaks about his disillusionment with the media and how the television, man’s miracle invention, is filled with propaganda and lies that the public feed into without knowing any better.

Barely three minutes long, this clip touches heavily upon the topics of fear, anxiety, and paranoia that our class is based on in relation to the notion of “truth”. I have below the part of his impassioned speech that really hit home for me:

“We deal in illusions, man! None of it is true […] We’re all you know! You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here! You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you– You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even THINK like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God’s name you people are the real thing, we are the illusion!”

The words were so powerful, especially in the frenzied way Finch plays his character. With each angry word, I was filled with anxiety. We take what we see on television and other digital media, as the unspoken truth. We learn our values from television, and we just hope that we’re being taught the right things. Isn’t it worrisome that what we see impacts how we think, and if we just watched or heard something else, maybe we wouldn’t think/act a certain way?

I know this kind of diatribe against the media is nothing new. No one can trust the media because it is biased, no matter which way you cut it. From Fox to CNN, all major news channels have their own motives for getting out certain stories while minimizing others. Then again, if we choose to never watch television or connect to the world through the media, does that mean that we’re too paranoid and choose to be ignorant of the world?

In relation to the movies we’ve watched, I thought the idea of truth, how we consciously (or subconsciously) try to hide from it, and how it can destroy the best and worst of us is evident in movies like in Touch of Evil and Memento. Quinlan in Touch of Evil hides the truth and frames people for committing crimes. Yet it catches up with him and he dies for what he’s done. Then in Memento, Leonard is forever on a quest to find the truth behind his wife’s murder, yet he’s actually sabotaging his own pursuits to fulfill his own needs. Just as striking was the fact that in this YouTube clip, Beale was a man denouncing the media while he himself is a player in the arena. It was insane that right as he was on the verge of finishing his speech telling people to turn the television off in the middle of his sentence, that he should faint in the middle of his sentence!

I don’t know whether he was staged to faint, but it’s still nevertheless an eerie omen–as though the truth is too much for one man to bear alone.

Also, you can find a longer version of the movie clip here:

Brainwashing Children

After watching The Manchurian Candidate and reading Timothy Melly’s “Brainwashed! Conspiracy Theory and Ideology in the Postwar United States” I began contemplating the issue of brainwashing in our society. The idea of brainwashing was introduced to the United States during The Korean War, but was certainly not confined to that era. In fact brainwashing is still a huge part of American culture, especially commercial advertising. Although we all are victims of brainwashing through advertisements, children are undoubtedly one of the biggest targets. This is mostly because children are highly impressionable and easily manipulated. 

 The video, “The Corporation: Advertisements Targeting Children” shows how children use nagging to get their parents to buy them various products. Companies are able to brainwash children to buy their products by showing the same commercials repeatedly during children’s programming. The more the children are exposed to the products, the more likely they will want the products and nag their parents to buy them. For instance, while watching a movie on the Disney Channel, a child may say several commercials for the Bratz Dolls or Hot Wheelz. Commercials also make their ads very colorful to appeal to children and maintain their attention. Companies also have flashy logos or catchy songs to force these young consumers to remember their products. There’s a reason why children remember Oscar Mayer bologna instead of Boar’s Head bologna. Another method that is particularly effective is associating the product with a character that children like. Children are more likely to want to eat macaroni and cheese that is in the shape of Spongebob Squarepants than regular elbow macaroni. Children might even argue that it tastes better.

 When children see these products, they fuss and throw tantrums until they get their parents to finally give in and buy the products. Then the cycle starts over again. In the video, Professor Susan Linn says, “It’s not that products themselves are bad or good. It’s the notion of manipulating children into buying the products.” There are some great products out there for kids, but if the ads are not played constantly, or are not visually appealing, the kids will not want these products.

 Brainwashing children to buy merchandise is a long way off from brainwashing men to be assassins. However, if the children do not eventually learn to be educated consumers, they could potentially become mindless zombies who are unable to think for themselves. 

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