This blog was inspired by a discussion that was held in my Politics in Film class yesterday about hope and fear. Throughout the history of politics there has been two themes that politicians have used to get votes: hope and fear. Between the two techniques fear is the easier way to go, it always has been and it always will. Using fear a politician can demonize a group of people or institutions:
Jews, Germans, Blacks, Mexicans, Terrorists, Homosexuals, Communists, Big Business, Liberals, Conservatives
Once the group is demonized the candidate can accuse his opponent of being “soft on” the issue.
For an example let’s use glue sniffers.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the United States, we have a serious problem on our hands. These people will stop at nothing to get their fix. Reports and studies have been done that show that they will rape your grandmother, eat your goat, and sell their children to Madonna in order to get their hands on glue. In fact in some cases they will paste glue all over each other and sniff it off of them, what a depraved lot they are. My opponent doesn’t think that we should be concerned about glue sniffers, he thinks that we have other things to worry about like schools, roads, and health care. The fact is that he is soft on glue sniffing! Do you want a man that is soft on glue sniffing representing you?” (Speech taken from the Goldwater library)
After reading that I am ready to go and lynch some glue sniffers! Who is coming with me?
To me though the best thing about building this fear is the techniques used. When you look back you can really see how misplaced the fear was and how funny some of the things that the government or politicians would use to keep feeding the fear.
Senator Joseph McCarthy used to scream that he knew the number of Soviet Agents working in the defense department. In fact he said he had the exact number and would give out the number all the time, of course he had three different numbers he randomly used.
Much more recently we had the homeland security department preaching the importance of:
My favorite thing ever though is this:
(the duck and cover video was here… but the link broke)
In case of a bomb the safest thing to do is duck and cover. Yes, Sue and Johnny if their is a nuclear blast one of the safest things you can do is climb under your desk.
These tactics of building fear crack me up because let’s face it they are all rather stupid. It reminds me of when I was a child and my parents would use fear to get me not to do things.
“Don’t make fun of retarded people or your children will end up retarded.”
“Don’t pick your nose or you will scratch your brain.”
or my personal favorite:
“Don’t play with yourself or it will fall off.”
So my question to you out there, what was something that was told to you to create fear either by your parents or the government that looking back you know is totally stupid?