Seeing a very, very disturbing interview with the outgoing US President Bush this evening condoning the torture he has institutionalised in the name of 'democracy' has lead me to reflect on the effect of very subtle propaganda in an apparent age of video democratisation.
Now, I have to confess that, despite having an American flatmate at college, living in the States and even having been married to a girl from Michigan, Americans are more alien to me than pretty much any other nation or culture on earth. Yet I happily and voraciously consume their TV exports from CSI to the Superbowl.
But democracy, reality and what is right are becoming a muddled mess thanks to the US hegemony on content. Half of the US now believes that they cracked the Enigma code thanks to a Hollywood movie. The majority of the most media rich nation on earth believe that they are at war with Iraq because they were responsible for 9/11 (see Michael Moore’s Canadian Bacon for some prescient views on this).
Using the media to make torture seem commonplace defies any decent interpritation of the role of the media in a 'free' society and the lack of real scrutiny of the dreadful Bush pesidency gives no confidence that the media will be anything apart from manipulated in the forthcoming presidential elections. Unfortunately, internet TV and the rise of media such as Current TV has yet to have any real impact. Media can be a force for good but I see very little evidence that the democratisation of media through the internet has done anything to date. The opportunity remains for this to change.