No, that isn’t an ad hominem, it’s my sincere belief.
It’s based on the content of the article here : http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-you-dont-realize-movies-are-controlling-your-brain/
Let’s break the article down.
First of all, the headline. It’s right up there with the National Enquirer or, for those of us with a UK heritage, the Daily Mail (I would say Express, but he never mentions Princess Di).
“You don’t realize” – yeah, because he’s somehow privy to knowledge you’re not; “Movies are controlling your brain”- right you are, sir. I’m being brainwashed every time I go to the cinema. I went in a peacenik hippy, came out and went straight to my local gun store. Won’t somebody think of the children?
As it happens, there is a grain of truth there, but “movies trigger emotional responses” isn’t exactly headline material, is it, David? It’s not like every form of art, ever, since the history of ever, has been trying to achieve exactly that. Not that that is art’s raison d’etre or anything. No, movies are somehow “special”. More on which, later.
So, there’s the hook to draw people in to reading the rest .
Now we get to the meat of it. One by one, here are the five “facts” presented in the article :
“#5. No, You Can’t Separate Fact from Fiction”
David contests that there are historical inaccuracies in ‘Braveheart’. No shit, Sherlock. There are in ‘Ben Hur’ too. And ‘I, Claudius’, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ and ‘Schindler’s List’. At what point did you think you were watching a National Geographic documentary? There are these two concepts known as romanticism and artistic licence. Present in all forms of artistic depiction since…well, since ever. Again. Unless you believe that the twelve apostles really did conveniently, and bizarrely, sit down on only one side of a long table for Mr Da Vinci to paint, of course.
As far as the “Jaws Effect”, I agree with that one to a degree – but again, that’s borne out of an emotional response, ie fear. Plus a lack of education, of course. However, and it’s a big however, it is NOT primarily responsible for the decimation of the world population of Great Whites. You can put than one squarely at the door of China.
Also, you can cause an O2 tank to explode by shooting it. As much as I love Mythbusters, Adam and Jamie aren’t the last word in science 😉 (There are a multitude of videos on YouTube demonstrating it, for example, and if you watch the last scene of Jaws, there’s no “traditional” Hollywood fireball).
I’ll pass on the list of examples (Top Gun, Karate Kid etc) because your point there is spot on. However, your corroborating point is not. Which leads us to…
#4. Stories Were Invented to Control You
This is the crux of it, as far as I am concerned. There are some distinctly disingenuous, at best, and downright misleading, at worst, statements in this section.
Hero mythology is about aspiration and self-improvement. It is not about telling someone “how to behave”. It’s to inspire and give someone a reason to choose that path for themselves. There was none of this “do this or else your forefather would have died in vain” nonsense – guilt tripping is very much a modern concept. People fought and died for their family and friends because they loved them. They had a much more personal reason to keep fighting too – if they gave up, they died. No Geneva Convention.
Now, while Campbell has written some excellent material on mythology, that is definitely not why stories were invented. They did, in fact, start as the “years-long recounting of the history of the tribe, which nobody has probably written down anyway” (sic) precisely because no one wrote things down. Mainly because they couldn’t..
Finally, I really hope you were using the word “literally” in that last sentence ironically.
#3 The Writer of a Story Always Has an Agenda
Yes, yes they do.
As mentioned earlier, that’s the entire point of art. It’s to provoke a response of some kind which is naturally going to be inline with the author’s own feelings.
What do these hugely popular hero characters have in common?
Nothing. So, about as valid as your cherry picked list, then.
And now we get to the most contrary part of the article :
“This is what everyone misses when debating this stuff — one side says, “Hollywood is trying to brainwash you!” and the other side says, “Michael Bay isn’t smart enough to brainwash an armadillo!” and they’re both missing the point”
So why the sensationalist title?
“Whether or not the agenda was intentional is utterly irrelevant”
So why the sensationalist title?
“I can’t emphasize this enough — there is no conspiracy.”
So why…oh you get the point.
#2. You Were Raised — and Educated — by Pop Culture
Everyone, ever, has been raised by popular culture. That popular culture might have been lions ripping apart Christians, but the effect was the same – instilling certain “facts”.
Christians are ‘bad’, if you’re a Roman.
That tribe over the river aren’t to be trusted, if you’re one of those villagers you mentioned earlier.
The French can be always be routed, if you’re in Shakespeare’s audience
All taught by virtue of their respective popular cultures.
As for the various scenarios you list, however, that might be a uniquely American viewpoint. I’m British but can tell you that I learnt about :
- How to behave on dates from my peers (with some embarrassment in one notable case – the sods)
- Armani was a fashion label in various magazines
- Smoking was cool because some of the girls at my school did it
So, while you’re correct in that I was influenced, it wasn’t exclusively by movies. But of course, that’s inevitable – everyone is influenced to one degree or another by various things. Peers, family, movies & tv, books, you name it. That’s the point of learning and growing up. To lay it all at the door of one channel is ludicrous.
#1. Everything in Your Brain Is a Story
You start off so well. I was nodding my head in agreement until this gem :
“we cared about World War II because it was a story: it had villains (Hitler and the rest), it had heroes (the Allies), it had a distinct beginning, middle and end”
Not that a marauding army was rampaging across Europe and slaughtering our neighbours and families, then? My mistake.
One final thought. The very last paragraph is spot on, in my opinion.
“So, yes, for the fucking love of God, movies matter. TV shows matter. Novels matter. They shape the lens through which you see the world. The very fact that you don’t think they matter, that even right now you’re still resisting the idea, is what makes all of this so dangerous to you — you watch movies so you can turn off your brain and let your guard down. But while your guard is down, you’re letting them jack directly into that part of your brain that creates your mythology. If you think about it, it’s an awesome responsibility on the part of the storyteller. And you’re comfortable handing that responsibility over to Michael Bay.
It’s just something to keep in mind, that’s all.”
I’m just slightly confused why movies were the only medium responsible until now. I can only assume the worst, stick to my original title and accuse you of some incredibly disappointing editorializing.