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Postmodern Village
est. 1999
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Battle of Symbols
by John Fraim

The real power in the world today is not in the western technology, economy or military. Rather it is in images and their use in a system of communication called symbolism. In effect, the real power of the world today is in the symbolism of western culture.

It is this power which threatens the religion of Islam.

The power of the western world to create and communicate this symbolism to other parts of the world, and particularly the middle eastern world of the Islamic religion, is at the root of the problem the Judeo-Christian west faces with the Islamic middle east.

If one accepts the hypothesis that symbolism might be at the root of the problem, it seems important to understand 1) the basic messages of this symbolism and 2) whether these messages might be manipulated or “recruited“ as “warriors“ in the coming battle.

Certainly the western world has been adept at directing its symbols mainly inward towards western culture in the form of propaganda and the persuasion of our advertising into a consumer culture. American consumer culture was created by the application and manipulation of these symbols.

Emerging questions of today are 1) whether Americans can come to see coming events of the world in a symbolic context and 2) whether this knowledge of symbolic context will help them direct their symbol making powers outward rather than inward.

Right now, America's symbol making powers are directed inward at persuasion and propaganda of the populace. Anyone who doubts this simply needs to push the button to CNN for about an hour. But, might it be directed outward towards propaganda of the western civilization into the Islamic culture?

We might say that it is not right to use propaganda to achieve goals. Yet, there is a vast amount of evidence that America's enemies use many forms of propaganda against America.

If our enemies can use propaganda against America, why shouldn't America enlist its greatest propaganda machines in Hollywood and Madison Avenue in the great coming battle?

Of course we do this on a simple Coke or McDonalds type of global expansion philosophy for American brands and the unrelenting promotion of that rather ambiguous beehive archetype symbol of ideas and emotions called “globalism.“

But here I mean more of a “kick ass“ Marine philosophy of putting Madison Avenue and Hollywood into the coming war that CNN constantly advertises to us in a ubiquitous logo. (Yes, now our war even has its own logo.) As well as its “brand“ spokespeople in all the happy and smiling faces of CNN's talking heads.

One of the real tragedies from the events of September 2001 is that the power of America to create symbols will be used against her own people, to brainwash them with propaganda. More of the same formula of the past. But in the weird postmodern world, so much better if this vast power of America could be directed outward at the real enemies of America. Right now, American media needs to contemplate more than ever the possibility that American citizens are not the ultimate enemies of American government and media. The enemy is truly outside.

Perhaps contemplation of the above will lead to a new type of revelation (and resolution) among our media, advertising and entertainment community. There've been greater odds in Las Vegas I'm sure. But it just might happen. That red ball might just pop into number 24.

So, what does this new force of American symbol making power with an outward focus go into battle against?

How's this for an idea?

One of the things that struck me in this whole nightmare episode of the past few weeks is the image of the last night of a few of the terrorists in a Florida lap dancing club, getting drunk, insulting the girls and making some wild claims about their next (and last) day.

Why doesn't America's greatest symbol making powers in Hollywood direct themselves to films and TV programs or series (directed and acted in by our greatest actors) about these terrorists? Show the Islamic world, in the same way we show them that a Big Mac is the Satanic food invader from the west, that their “heroes“ aren't really heroes. I mean using all the skills and artistic talents of Hollywood to do this. (Add in there the talents of Disneyland's Imagineers. I visited Disneyland right before the events on September 11th. What more of a contrast of symbols exists in the world?)

Or, why doesn't America's greatest symbol making powers on Madison Avenue direct themselves to advertisements selling the Islamic world on a different American “brand“ or symbol? Might America be “packaged“ and “branded“ in a better and more positive way than that presently being presented to the Islamic world? By the way, just how are we being presented to the Islamic world?

This is a wonderful challenge for the film and advertising industry of America. For the first time in their history, the history of the world's most powerful symbol making machinery, they have the possibility of creating not more propaganda for their citizens but rather the destruction of lies and untruths about America in the world. If American films and ads can blast away into homes of the Islamic world via world satellite networks and even Internet sources, and if they can simply tell the world about America rather than constantly re-create America in her citizens by propaganda. . .

Oh, the power of America then.