So I have been paying a little attention to this lecture series called Plausible Artworlds that have been put on by an artist collection named Basekamp. They are every Tuesday from 6-8 and you can access it over Skype, so I suggest everyone with an internet connection to check it out. Interesting stuff.
However, one of the more interesting lectures was actually the first that I listened to and it was in this that a man was talking about changing the meaning of words. That certain words have been taken out of their original definition and been given this society-friendly definition. He talked about reclaiming the word “value,” which I have discussed on this blog before, but I would like to talk about my word. The word that I have decided to be taken out of its original shell by society, especially over the past 80-90 years is propaganda.
When you first read that word what did you think of? Nazis? Stalin? Hell, Obama falls into both of those depending on who you’re talking to. Propaganda is meant to deceive the masses into eating Soylent Green. It is the stuff of historians and conspiracy theorists alike. Propaganda is what the Tom Tom Club is talking about in Wordy Rappinghood.
Well…actually that is closer to what I want propaganda to be.
I want to change the meaning of the word propaganda and try to dispel the negative connotations it holds. Propaganda has lost its face since the 20’s and 30’s and we should be reclaiming it as something good. Propaganda’s definition is direct communication that is used to sway someone. The second part lives on, but propaganda isn’t an explicit thing anymore. We are all under the powers of mighty news networks and government agencies that use subtle information that might be able to be interpreted as propaganda, but its never really known if this information is put out with the intent of persuasion or not. Yes Glenn Beck is pretty good at trying to be overtly persuasive, but some people don’t even see the explicitness of what he is saying and doing. It’s frustrating since it makes it seem that we have lost the ability to read media.
And since we have lost this ability, or so it seems we have, then we should simplify it. The increased technology has made it easier to make things more complicated and implicit. It’s easier to avoid directly saying anything. We don’t have to. But then we wonder why we have citizens who have no idea how to vote and we’re confused. Propaganda can be a solution if used correctly. Present facts and truthful arguments in which information is explicit. That is propaganda. The modern day debate seems to be as close to actual propaganda as we can get, but that too is filled with question dodging and politicians trying to dig themselves out of their own trenches by not answering explicitly.
Explicit comments and directions seem to be the only way that things can get done in the current society. This sort of direct communication puts people out of their comfort zones, making them want to return to it. People like to complain about tension, but it truly does perpetuate change if the option to return to the status quo is blocked off. Tension is great, but really only for a society that can handle it. I don’t know if the US is there yet, but hopefully the health care bill is a step.
And maybe if tension becomes a force to reckon with, propaganda will become more accepted. We shouldn’t give up on a word because of historical connotations. We should point out that much of what is classical propaganda is implicit and hidden, not overt as it should be. Facts and explicit argument is what the world needs. Simplify media in order when it moves outside of entertainment and starts affecting everyday life. Let’s get to a place where directly communicating with one another, whether that be person to person or media outlet to people, is accepted. Let’s narrow down the meaning of propaganda to something manageable. All that other shit is coercion.
Propaganda is a good thing little buddies.