Every civilization has certain values which are the core of its culture. These values and norms are embedded in folklore, symbols, stories, hero’s and shared history. In today’s world, the use of cultural manipulation and the infusion of values are easily performed through well thought propaganda campaigns. Perhaps propaganda is a word with a negative connotation, but it mainly means the use of visual and verbal messages to reach a certain change in values, attitude and actions.
Propaganda always had a great role in social and political change. None would ever forget the effect’s of Goebbels’ propaganda machine in the Third Reich in Nazi Germany. An other example is the extreme and perhaps even obsessive use of propaganda during the cold war in USSR and the USA. Both the communist regime as the USA fought each over the opinion of the public.
In the new millennium the use of other propaganda tools are becoming more and more popular, such as the use of internet and television. Except for new tools, the public to whom propaganda is being directed to has shifted as well. The propaganda aimed at social change through creating new norms and values is being directed more and more towards children.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, this new target group was selected in an earlier stage, in the early 1980’s when the new babyboom was old enough to go to school and learn about the values of the Islamic Republic. Schoolbooks had changed, resulting in text books with stories derived from the Qoran, carrying values of martyrdom, submission to Islam, our brotherhood with the Palestinians and last but not least the fight of the good (the Islam) against evil (the West).
Not only schoolbooks were submitted to the metamorphosis of pedagogically correct children’s stories (pre- Islamic Revolution) to religious and politically infused texts (post- Islamic Revolution), but also cartoons on television were becoming more and more grim.
Children could choose between Ali Koochooloo (a litte boy whose dad had died in war and who was forced to face the harsh reality of life all alone) and Cosette (from the play Les Misérables, a little orphan girl who constantly had to endure injustice and cruelties of the people around her).
Those negative and depressing cartoons are quite likely to strengthen the sense of injustice that was supposedly being done to the Islamic Republic and the cause of the Islamic Revolution (the international isolation, the war with Iraq, the injustice being done to Palestinians, etc.).
In the new millennium this trend of religious and politically infused cartoons is being continued in Iran. I am sure that pedagogues world wide would be horrified with this cartoon showed on Iranian national television showing not only cruel violence and religous infused curse words, but also a political message about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The values that are being taught through such propaganda are violent, harmful and psychologically damaging.
Though it hasn’t been tested what the effects are of such propaganda on children- since doing research on such issues in Iran is politically sensitive and considered dangerous for the people involved- it is understandable that it adds to the base on which the regime of the Islamic Republic would like to build on.
A different kind of propaganda is when one adjusts a message on the target group to reach social acceptance. In this case the word propaganda is rather heavy. One could perhaps use the word communication strategy, or marketing. The European Union is an entity that uses this kind of marketing correctly to speak to its people in a proper way.
Since the beginning of the European Union it has been difficult to reach a social acceptance of the people living in the European Member States to create a sense of being ’European’. The people of the European Union have more ‘feeling’ with their own national culture than with a common ‘European culture’. An Italian has different values than a Fin and a Frenchman has different norms than the Danes.
Despite these cultural differences, these countries are united and are coming closer more and more through legislation, European organizations and European politics. For the European Union to work as a united entity it is necessary to have its people more involved in its politics, even if it basically is needed to support new European legislation, etc. Therefore, there is more and more communiation strategy from the European Union aimed at all age groups, including children.
A short while ago I found this comic that showed memebers of the European Parliament as crime fighting, hard working and socially engaged people. I found it funny and amusing and positive. A child who would read this comic would perhaps not immediately be drawn to the European Union more than before, but it would at least care more to know about its existence.
This example of the European comic compared to the Iranian cartoon shows the difference in approach when it comes to using cultural propaganda in order to reach social change or acceptance. One could use a strategy of hate and fear or a strategy of love and positivity. When we accept that we all are influenced by propaganda or advertisement or communication strategies, it would at least be nice to have an approach that uses positive values to attract its acceptance.
Apart from that, it would even perhaps create nicer people through communication that uses positive messages in order to reach its goal than one which uses senses of hate and anger. I’d rather have my child read the comic than watch the cartoon anyway!
|Recently by Tina Ehrami||Comments||Date|
|War propaganda, Obama style!|
|Apr 28, 2010|
|The Green Wave|
|Jan 24, 2010|
|Balance of deterrence, or a catastrophe?|
|Oct 02, 2009|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|