After reading through Pillar Tri, I was left feeling obligated to answer a question tacitly posed or assumed. Namely, what is communications & psychological warfare outside of my own encapsulation of it via GodFare?
We are constantly invading and being invaded mentally. How we invade and become invaded is through our communication channels be it Facebook or charismatic convincing conversation. While I can compartmentalize communications warfare as distinct from psychological warfare(which can be distinguished from another closely related, intellectual warfare), I would like to handle an interplay of both in this writing.
So, main idea time, right?
Subordination to an ideal or worldview. While I agree that wars are fought for land, I would add that they are only won when there is collective subordination to an ideal or worldview. This subordination should have as a feature a projection of expectations
vis-à-vis one’s role, “place”, or position.
Our role in this subordination can easily be programmed through visual means or even through literary interpretation. While in our own contemporary moment, being entertained is less about consuming images, but discussing images and identifying with images. In this way, outside of what has been successfully marketed as “an experience”, updating Twitter and Facebook, or even in some ways YouTube, has come to trump movie going, but not movie watching.
However, many of these images in movies are edited by military or government agencies. Most images in movies have to fit a particular social scheme that appeals to people with money to finance a film budget as well as appeal to people with money to finance a trip to a theater.
This is all to state that movie creators from writers to executive producers have to consider ideals palatable to a conservative, capitalist, imperialist nation of movie goers. These ideals have to mesh well with that audience despite whatever ulterior intentions of any individual working on that film in order for that show to gain viable viewership.
Black Artist, Red Scare
In 1922, author and filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux produced a film entitled, “Within Our Gates” as a response to Klan propaganda flick, “Birth Of A Nation”. A couple of years later in 1924, he would provide a football playing scholar from out of Rutgers University his first ever role. Paul Robeson would go on from his part in Body and Soul to legendary career marked by controversy.
According to US Black film historian, Donald Bogle,
When Robeson became associated with the Communist Party in the mid-1930s, when he spoke out against American discrimination and segregation when he began making trips to the Soviet Union, he was singled out and silenced.“Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks: An Interpretive History Of Blacks In American Films”, Donald Bogle, pp 95
After the better part of a decade being under FBI survellience, Paul Robeson would face the House Committee on Un-America for his views on USA foreign policy and domestic inequalities towards US Blacks. In his paper on HUAC’s psychological war against Paul Robeson, Tony Perucci explains how US Government used psychoanalysis to center dissenting views and voices in insanity. In his words, Robeson “emerged as a a domestic site for the waging of the cold war”.
To further demonstrate how intense this psychological warfare was, Perucci states:
“Robeson’s performance at the Paris Peace Conference brought just such conclusions from numerous professionally amateur, yet politically vicious ‘psychoanalysts.’ NAACP chairman, Walter White, diagnosed that in ‘The Strange Case of Paul Robeson,’ the patient was ‘oversensitive’ to discrimination, a ‘neurotic[…] bewildered man who is more to be pitied than to be damned’. Similarly, the professional informer and black ex-Communist Manning Johnson informed HUAC that Robeson suffered from ‘delusions of grandeur’ so serious that he was ‘desirous of becoming the Black Stalin’. As if in reaction to such diagnoses, the US State Department engaged in the practice conventional for both the treatment of mental illness and the threat of Communist contagion: confinement. As a result, Robeson’s passport was revoked, and he was forbidden to travel even to places where no passport was needed for US citizens, like Canada or even Hawaii. In the cold war political doctrine developed by George F. Kennan, this practice was known as ‘containment’.”“The Red Mask of Sanity: Paul Robeson, HUAC, and the Sound of Cold War Performance”, Tony Perucci
Here will be an opportune moment to remember our purpose here. Our objective here is to outline psychological warfare, communications warfare, and pyschological & communications warfare as methods utilized to instill and enforce subordination to an ideal or worldview.
Thus far we have discussed a historical portrait of Paul Robeson and his fight against an entire government using psychological tactics. This extreme abuse of power and waste of resources is justified by labeling it “cold war”. A cold war is ideological warfare typified by psychological, intellectual, communications, and proxy warfare.
What we have seen in Mr. Paul Robeson’s battle is that psychological warfare works to define and identify any dissident or supporter of ideals that diverge from those ideals promoted for subordination as ‘insane’. Not just insane as in weird or foolish, but clinically, “scientifically” insane. Behaviors that reflect subordination to ideals promoted by these institutions are considered ‘norms’.
There is one danger of interpretation here I would like to address. While I am pointing at a specific abstract set of occurrences, “psychological warfare”, it should be noted that there is always an interplay of other abstract forces. We are dynamic beings existing in a dynamic whole. There are no truly isolated forces. What I am suggesting here is that the US Government primarily used a campaign of psychological tactics to create subordination to an ideal in this particular case and framing. It could easily be argued that they also implemented tactics and strategies found in communications warfare.
Paul Robeson was not only target of United States’s war on its own citizens justified under auspice of “cold war”. Another talented US Black actor, James Edwards, also refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee –unlike Jackie Robinson who would testify against Paul Robeson– and his career suffered as well. Lena Horne would also be blacklisted due to her name being listed in anti-Communist piece, Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television as well as her friendship with Paul Robeson.
US Communications, Combat, And Castro’s Cuba
United States of America’s deep seated need to justify hostile domestic subordination to their ideals has persisted even into my contemporary moment of 2019. As a study of communications warfare, another grossly illegitimate use of US tax payer money was initiated by US President Ronald Reagan on September 22, 1981. On that date, he signed Executive Order 12323, which gave birth to the Presidential Commission on Broadcasting to Cuba and subsequently, Radio Marti.
Much of Radio Marti’s initial tactics were derived from lessons gleaned through USA’s Voice of America radio based communications warfare operation. Voice of America was a pure propaganda play against Cuba. Prior to USA’s botched invasion (Bay of Pigs), Voice of America was broadcast 24 hours a day at several various frequencies to fight against signal jamming. Voice of America, much like USA’s combat warfare effort against Castro’s nation, was a failure.
Those in Reagan’s administration determined that it would be better to program Radio Marti with entertainment and
A few vessels — from a tethered blimp named “Fat Albert” to a twin-engine Gulfstream 1 plane called, Aero Marti– have been utilized to accomplish this task. A
This is one example of United States failing in their foreign communications warfare. Let us take a look at some examples of domestic communications warfare.
Spies, Lies, & Star Power: The
Hollywoodifixation Of CIA
During George W. Bush’s administration, many US Government departments and institutions lost credibility domestically and across foreign sectors. According to Simon Anholt in a book entitled “Brand America: The Making, Unmaking, And Remaking of the Greatest national Image of All Time“, Barack Obama’s election to office of United States President helped to assuage global feelings of disappointment. Despite Obama’s actual legacy of drone strikes, unresolved civilian uprise, and IRS scandals, his symbol as first Kenyan-American in that office provided USA a means to rebrand its image.
Part of this rebranding effort includes an extension of the Central Intelligence Agency’s reimaging project. Two Hollywood productions reflect their communications & psychological warfare mission: Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.
Nick Schou writes in his book covering CIA involvement in media, “Spooked: How the CIA manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood“:
…Argo — which won three Academy Awards including Best Picture, and reaped over $230 million at the box office — arguably ranks as the agency’s most successful propaganda coup in Hollywood…“Spooked: How the CIA manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood”, Nick Schou, chapter 6
Starring a familiar face to CIA motion picture propaganda, Ben Affleck, Argo repurposed the Iran hostage crisis as slick James Bond style action adventure.
Zero Dark Thirty is another product of US Military propaganda creators: director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal. Both had already scored a communications win for the US Army for their 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker. Their Zero Dark Thirty would reframe Obama’s “Osama moment” as an intelligence officer’s battle against government bureaucracy and apologia for torture à la Bush-era 24.
Both movies would be nominated for an Oscar in Best Picture category. Through a series of events, however, Argo would defeat more dramatic and well written Zero Dark Thirty. “Defeat” might either be to strong of a word, or simply given to misinterpretation.
Let me explain by reviewing what others have provided
vis-à-vis Oscar selection process.
In a Hollywood Reporter article initially released in their March 2012 issue, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reported Oscar-related revenues in the ballpark of $89.6 million. “The bulk of that income is from the Walt Disney Co., which pays $75 million annually for the rights to broadcast the awards show on ABC through 2020.” So, off top, we need to be mindful that Disney, which owns ABC, foots over 84% of Oscar Award related expenses. For all intents and purposes, Disney owns the Oscars.
More importantly, there is a profit motivation attached to these awards. That motivation is used to being fed close to $100 million. Which may explain 2019 Oscar awards including a category for ‘Most Popular’ production.
What we also want to understand is how a process of campaigning for awards–refered to as ‘for your consideration’ campaigns– works to get a nominated film an actual Oscar win, especially as it relates to Best Picture category.
Tim Gray, Awards Editor and Senior Vice President of Variety, writes in a 2015 Variety article:
“Some people seem to think Oscar campaigns are a recent phenomenon. In truth, they are as old as the awards themselves: In Hollywood, creativity and marketing have always gone hand in hand.”
A January 2014 article published in Vulture details Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar campaign tactics. These tactics ranged from cold calling academy members as a form of awareness raising of new actors to setting up screenings of films at retirement homes where academy members resided. Apparently it is not uncommon for studios seeking Oscars to send screeners of their films to members or to toast expensive gala events doubling as star meet & greets.
For our purposes here, I need to address one more element of this for your consideration process: whisper campaigns. Basically a whisper campaign is high scale dirty macking. A studio covertly starts a negative communications & psychological warfare campaign that might sound like “Spike Lee’s Black Klansman is police propaganda”, which could influence academy members. It is important to note that these sorts of procedures must be covert operations because it is supposedly against rules of the Academy to overtly suggest not voting for a film.
Let’s bring this full circle with an example of a film that broke this rule to show a possible connection between public institutional influence on Hollywood decision making. As we have discussed, the creators of Zero Dark Thirty — director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal– both also worked on The Hurt Locker.
Producer of The Hurt Locker, Nicolas Chartier, violated these rules by “casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film”. According to a 2010 article on Deadline, Chartier spread emails to Academy voters dirty macking other contenders. His punishment was denied attendance to the 82nd Academy Awards. Yet, his film was still given the Best Picture award that year.
What might have occurred that caused a film of similar if not better quality and financial backing, with no direct violation of Academy rules of campaigning lose to a lesser film? That is: how might have Argo beaten Zero Dark Thirty?
A Study On Impact Of Argo And Zero Dark Thirty
Before we discuss Michelle C. Pautz’s survey of undergraduate student’s reactions to a film about the extraction of US citizens during the Iranian hostage crisis and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, we need to revisit our purpose here.
So far we have explored psychological warfare via US Government’s Red Scare campaign against Paul Robeson. Also, we have considered communications warfare vis-à-vis the US Government’s cold war propaganda and failed combat missions against Cuba. While both of these campaigns have different results, they both shared same objective
As well, we have covered CIA involvement in Hollywood in what I am framing as an admixture of psychological warfare and communications warfare. Continuing that discussion, I introduce Michelle C. Pautz study of the impact of Argo and Zero Dark Thirty on 69 undergrad students.
Alright, so Professor and Assistant Provost Michelle C. Pautz of University of Dayton published her findings in January 2015’s American Political Science Association’s journal. Inside this work entitled “Argo and Zero Dark Thirty: Film, Government, and Audiences”, she states her purpose as:
“Two recent films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, were chosen as case studies to explore how Hollywood portrays the intelligence community and influences opinions about the government more generally.”
While Pautz’s research captures data of what even she admits is a small sample size, it does give us a glimpse into what a focus group might have informed a CIA liason about these two movies. That information may have influenced CIA operatives to publicize an investigation supposedly undertook to uncover if director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were given confidential files.
One supposition that Pautz draws from her findings is that Argo had an easier narrative film convention. That is, viewers had an easier time telling who was a “good guy” and who was a “bad guy”. Due to scenes of torture in opening sequences of Zero Dark Thirty, some viewers had a more difficult time sorting out their own cognitive dissonance generated by such morally questionable imagery.
CIA involvement was not publicly revealed. In interview after interview, Zero Dark Thirty creators would be hounded with questions regarding source material and scenes of torture. That is, until First Lady of United States, Michelle Obama, announced that Zero Dark Thirty had lost to Argo. While Washington Post reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee closed its investigation weeks prior, it is interesting that Reuters did not report a closing until hours after Zero Dark Thirty lost.
Either way, I do believe we have substantiated an understanding of what communications & psychological warfare can look like.
Disney’s Afrikan Utopia As Anti-US Black Male Messaging
Before we move from our discussion here regarding CIA, FBI, and other Government Agency involvement in Hollywood, there is one more thing. On February 24, 2019, during Oscar ceremonies, the CIA Twitter account updated with a discussion about Disney’s Black Panther. As we have already seen with Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, CIA representation in movies tends to go hand-in-hand with CIA involvement in writing and narrative direction.
I also found it interesting that Ava Duvernay decided to walk away from Disney’s Black Panther project. I quote her statements documented in an Essence exclusive here:
“I’m not signing on to direct Black Panther…I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me…I loved meeting Chadwick and writers and all the Marvel execs…In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.”
I do not want to disparage Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, or any other Black talent associated with Disney’s Afrikan super hero project. However, Black Media Trust asks me to question US Black images, especially those that have been filtered through the Central Intelligence Agency’s editorial staff. Disney’s Afrikan Vs. US Black super hero project definitely presents CIA operatives in a highly desirable light while also placing US Black males in a highly damaging one.
Disney’s Afrikan Utopia Super heroes versus United States of Amerikkka’s Negro problems cultural product, Black Panther, exists in same space as modern and contemporary era journalistic endeavors to paint US Blacks as welfare queens, ghetto bastards, Hillary Clinton’s “Super Predators”, rapists, and every other form of criminal worthy to be put down or caged.
Media Retrial Of O.J. Simpson
Cultural products should not be limited in our minds to entertainment. Our society is also shaped by how we interpret current events and how those current events present parts of society we only experience through media. Further, journalists and reporters act within confines of media as
During the Democratic Party’s United States Presidential administration of Bill Clinton, Faria Chideya wrote:
“Another way that facts aren’t ‘true’ is when individual stories, each of them correct, don’t add up to an accurate big picture…if a newspaper does fifteen profiles of women on welfare, and each woman is black, the individual stories may each be correct but the message the entire series conveys is not accurate. Photographs can be just as misleading as words, either by being pictures of only African-Americans day after day, or simply by being misused. Both Newsweek and Time ran mug shots of former football star and accused murderer O.J. Simpson on the cover of their issues dated June 27, 1994. But while Newsweek printed Simpson’s photograph in naturalistic colors, Time magazine retouched the photograph to make Simpson’s eyes seem more deeply hooded, and his skin seem blotchy and darker than it is. It seems that when an African-American does not fit the crudest stereotype of what a black criminal looks like, members of the media may alter the evidence to convey the worst impression.”
In the year of this writing, 2019, Disney owned ABC acquired or commissioned, Former prosecutor of OJ Simpson, Marcia Clark’s series called The Fix. This show is promoted in a way that explores a plot
In a 1965 speech delivered by St. Malcolm X, he also discusses how journalism works as an arm of US communications & psychological warfare against US Blacks:
“They accuse us of what they themselves are guilty of. This is what the criminal always does. They’ll bomb you, then accuse you of bombing yourself. They’ll crush your skull, then accuse you of attacking him. This what the racists have always done — the criminal, the one who has criminal processes developed to a science. Their practice is criminal action. And then use the press to make you victim – look like the victim is the criminal, and the criminal is the victim. This is how they do it.”“Malcolm X: The Last Speeches,” Edited by Bruce Perry, pp 153-154
“…Here’s an example of how they do. They take the press, and through the press, they beat the system…Or through the white public. Because the white public is divided…So they don’t like to do anything without the support of the white public. The racists, that are usually very influential in the society, don’t make their move without first going to get public opinion on their side. So they use the press to get public opinion on their side. When they want to suppress and oppress the Black community, what do they do? They take the statistics, and through the press, they feed them to the public. They make it appear that the role of crime in the Black community is higher than it is anywhere else.”ibid
“What does this do? This message — this is a very skillful message used by racists to make the whites who aren’t racists think that the rate of crime in the Black community is so high. This keeps the Black community in the image of a criminal. It makes it appear that anyone in the Black community is a criminal. And as soon as this impression is given, then it makes it possible, or paves the way to set up a police-type state in the Black community, getting the full approval of the white public when the police come in, use all kind of brutal measures to suppress Black people, crush their skulls, sic dogs on them, and things of that type. And the whites go along with it. Because they think that everybody over there’s a criminal anyway. This is what — the press does this.”ibid
Last thing I want to quote here from the Great Malcolm:
“This is skill. This skill is called — this is a science that’s called ‘image making.’ They hold you in check through this science of imagery. They even make you look down upon yourself, by giving you a bad image of yourself. Some of our own Black people who have eaten this image themselves and digested it — until they themselves don’t want to live in the Black community. They don’t want to be around Black people themselves.”ibid
Black Thoughts, Russian Bots
Not only do media personalities misrepresent financial realities and extralegal predicaments of US Blacks, but also our political ideologies. Remember that the US Government utilized psychoanalysts as psychological soldiers to frame fighting for Black rights, fighting gay rights, or supporting any economic system other than whatever we have in the United States as a psychological illness, an insanity. Media personalities and journalists are drafted and sent on missions with same objectives in mind, at least with regard to US Blacks.
MSNBC’s Joy-Anne Reid prove just how similar McCarthyism era psychoanalysts and contemporary media pundits are when she attacked Yvette Carnell, Antonio Moore, and adherents to their movement as “russian bots”. An attack — not simply misstatement — that could have, if it has not put in motion, legal rammifications for those involved. Joy Reid adds modern context to the trajectory outlined in this work above where US Blacks are attacked as Russian supporters for their support of US Black programs of uplift.
Joy Reid’s comments and persistent harrassment of those attached to the ADOS movement is irresponsible and loathsome. It should remind us of Mr. Malcolm’s words regarding US Blacks digesting disparaging messages of themselves. It would seem that Joy-Anne’s platform is one of regurgitation of same vilification US Blacks had to endure under auspice of “cold war”.
Alright, let us conclude this, y’all.
We have shown that there are nuanced differences between psychological warfare and communications warfare. We have also developed an understanding of implementations of both. With this outline, we can present accurate and clear definitions of GodFare.
Subordination to an ideal or worldview dominates purpose for executing communications warfare or psychological warfare, or variations of both.