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Article - 'Propoganda in Morality' by Xanqui

An item about Miscellanious posted on Feb 21, 2004

Blurb

An article that questions recent discussion involving creativity.

Body

I recently wrote an article about Science Fiction, and the fact that the use of the dystopia/post-apocalyptic worlds was becoming decreasingly original. But that’s not the case, as I’ve even more recently come to realize. The problem is that stories are no longer created for the sole purpose of entertainment. Stories are used as a tool of propaganda.

Let’s take a look at the history of story writing. The most obvious choice for a start would be Homer’s The Iliad. Many had already known this fantastic story, but the details of many aspects were forgotten in the time between the Trojan War and the story. The Iliad was possibly told at first, and not actually written until many years after Homer’s death. But originally, the story was told to tell history and to entertain the audience. Sure, there were a few morals thrown in, but they were generally common knowledge.

Now let’s fast-forward to today. The Iliad is analyzed as if every single word has a meaning. Homer had intended the story to be read quickly, and everything was to be taken lightly. It was a story for entertainment, not analysis. But now look at what I’m saying here. I’m assuming that Homer wrote for entertainment. How could I possibly know this? Sure, my Latin teacher told me this, but then how does he know this?

With that in mind, take a story that everyone knows. Mary Had a Little Lamb is a very widely known story, put into song form that has been translated in nearly every language. I sang this meaningless song for school so many times that I could never forget it. But for some reason, people think that even this pathetic excuse for an epic has a meaning!

Here’s how I could possibly analyze this story. Mary’s lamb represents communism, and her life represents the Soviet Union. Communism was an important part of the Soviet Union for many years, but everyone knew it was only a danger to the world. But when Mary goes to school, which represents USSR going to a Cold War with the United States, communism, the lamb, must be left behind, or else the nation, Mary, doesn’t stand a chance.

As much as that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, I’m merely trying to prove my point.

There is nothing wrong with analyzing stories. I have nothing against this. However, people are twisting the words around to mean anything they want it to. Stories are interpreted to mean anything anyone wants them to mean. It’s just a matter of labeling the nouns as symbols.

This is becoming a threat to storywriters everywhere. It’s impossible now to write a story that will be interpreted exactly as you wish it to. What appears to be written solely for entertainment in one person’s eyes appears to be an anti-communist essay to another’s. Why is it that stories can no longer be a form of pure entertainment?

There’s a saying that whenever you see a tragedy, you should feel better about yourself, but if you see a comedy, you should leave it feeling kind of down. Tragedies were a form of pure entertainment, and not meant to convince people to overthrow a government or anything like that. They were a way to show how a man with great fortune could be destroyed through a series of events.

Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, was my personal favorite. Sophocles wrote the play to have an underlying meaning that required some thinking to figure out. It was a story about how defying the Gods would only lead to an even worse version of your fate. The story was used to represent all of this. This was more of a moral, not a form of propaganda.

And then there are stories like Hitler’s Mien Kamf. This was purely propaganda, and every single word was used to flame the hatred of the Jews. Everything about this story was used to change the thought process of people. Oedipus was written just to make people open their minds.

With that in mind, where does one draw the line between propaganda and making one think?

I bring this whole topic up because of the recent claim that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ was made to be a tool against the Jews and other non-Christian religions. This is because idiots decided to twist the events in the movie around to make Mel Gibson look like some insane religious freak. Yes, Gibson did promote his beliefs in the movie, but the sole purpose of making it was to present a story that had not been presented in this way before. People are interpreting it in different ways Gibson had intended.

Many would say to me that the movie was politically incorrect. This is another problem I have. Why is it that entertainment has to be politically correct? Are people stupid enough to think that a movie like The Matrix is a pro-violence movie? Unfortunately, that answer is yes. The Matrix was made for an entirely different purpose, yet it is interpreted by some to be a movie that supports the killing of random people.

I’m not trying to throw my beliefs at you in any way. I’m merely trying to show that stories can no longer be presented to entertain the audience. Instead of searching for a meaning that was never intended by the author, look at the story aspects. How often do you hear about great character development by critics?

Fortunately, GamingWorld does an excellent job of avoiding these analyses. We tend to focus on the actual plot and portrayal of events, rather than the interpreted underlying meaning of the story. Even A Blurred Line, which could be interpreted a million different ways as an anti-corporation story, has been left alone.

Maybe bringing these topics up makes people look more intelligent, or proves some point of their beliefs to be true. We like to think that we’re always right, and if we can twist words around enough, we can make it look like everyone agrees with us. It takes a great deal of intelligence to do this, but to people like me, it looks like pure arrogance.