Nowadays, one can obtain a lot of influence on public thinking through systematic use of mass media. Likewise, this very blogpost you are just reading is going for the same purpose by the way. But still you are on this very site by free will and its your ungoing choice to stay tuned or just leaving for a next virtual tabacco store were get some of your essential informations about what’s going on around the world.
There are other mass media and other ways to take influence on your thoughts and your perception. Remember Theodor Adornos and his fellows Bloch, Benjamin, Horkheimer and Marcuse from the Frankfurt School of critical theory. In his and Horkheimers famous writings on the culture industry in the Dialectic of Enlightment, he made some important points on the manipulation of mass society into passivity through popular culture. He discredited the consumption of easy pleasures of popular cultures made available by the communication mass media and argued that the inherent danger of the culture industry is the cultivation of false psychological needs that can only be met and satisfied by the products of capitalism.
The idea behind the Adornos culture industry lies in the paternalism of industrially produced culture and its influence on the people to behave no longer as producers of creativity and imagination but to be only consumers of culture which takes over the thinking for them. With mass production people get homogenized, movies become more and more similar, copying a pattern of success – economical success of course.
And throughout this appearence of mass media, ideas and thoughts made from above can be carried through the established information chains to the society. For example, most local news channels get their information from the same single source:
So, remember when you are watching the news that you should still rethink what you are told and maybe compare between different sources of your information gathering areas.
Another way to influence people subliminally is in big movies. In James Bond movies, hidden product placement is used very intentionally since the beginning: Smirnoff-Vodka in Dr.No, over Dom Perignon champagne in Goldfinger to Heineken which substitutes Martini as a drink in Skyfall.
In a similar way, Royal Society of Chemistry president says that evil characters’ hidden reactors have contributed to negative perceptions, found in the article of James Meikle in The Guardian:
The film version of Dr No, first screened 50 years ago and still a TV favourite, and other Bond movies have helped frame public perceptions of the hazards of nuclear power along with accidents such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, according to David Phillips, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
And here a counterstatement by Richard George of Greenpeace:
“A handful of Bond films haven’t tarnished the nuclear industry’s reputation. They have managed to do that all by themselves. I don’t think they have got a top secret fake volcanic island though. But if they did, it would probably be cheaper to build than a nuclear power station.”
After the terrific and lasting impacts of the nuclear incidents mentioned above, one has to admit that nuclear power is certainly one of the pillars for the energy consuming culture industry we are living in. But we should not be blinded by the comfort and easy pleasures that surrounds us everyday. James Bond is not here to stop an nuclear incident and its aftermath, as well there will be not a single super agent who could stop badly intended use of nuclear material in the final second. James Bond is fiction, nuclear power is real – as are all its consequences.