The Ultimate Love-Hate Relationship: Mass Media and Propaganda

Melody Erhuy | 47409393

Whether we would like to admit it or not, some form of media has influenced the way we think. Television shows, commercials, news articles, music videos, cinema, creative writing, Facebook, Twitter – pick your poison. In general, the media has been charged with creating and reinforcing stereotypes through a simplified depiction and unbiased opinion on any matter that presents itself. “For example, Japanese soldiers were depicted both as relentless, brutal, almost superhuman foes and as gun-toting apes and bucktoothed, near-blind pygmies jabbering away in pidgin English.” (Machida, 61) Media has and will remain consistent in its black-and-white mentalities – either something (or someone) is good or they are bad. Yet the lines that divide unbiased opinion and slander blur in the “bad” coverage – many historic campaigns and advertisements are masquerading as decent media while they originated as negatively fueled propaganda, like the plight of the Yellow Peril on American media.

The fear of Oriental competition cultivated the essence of the Yellow Peril. Think Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf’s obsessively competitive spirit to be Queen of Constance High School. People love to feel important, and Blair is no exception. When anyone even slightly threatens Blair, her guard goes up as her claws come out – she will never give up her power without a fight. And Blair’s usual weapon of choice? Slander. 

Western psyche followed the same patterns in the case of excluding the “others” – except their slander was not a simple Gossip Girl blast. “The Yellow Peril finds one of its most enduring and evocative expressions in the character of the evil Chinese genius Fu Manchu, created in 1913 by the British author Sax Rohmer one year after China threw off centuries of feudal rule and declared itself a republic.” (61) A man that is pure evil, Fu Manchu is a product of the multiple fears of the Orient and is comprised of many Asian American stereotypes of the early 1900s. Image

I do not know how people would feel if a mystical potion master were serving as mayor – and that was the whole point. In fear of losing their jobs and place in society, American mass media depicted Asian Americans as violent and uncivilized, a deceitful people that are the spawn of evil. Advertising Orientals as heathens? Blair would be proud.

The propaganda surrounding Asian Americans stemmed further into WWII as Japanese Americans were shot down (quite literally) in their own homes.

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Sadly, this type of abuse towards the “others” still continues to this day. The line between mass media and propaganda still has never been clearly defined; stereotypes still remain prevalent in many forms of social media.

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However much we want to blame the media, we are the ones listening. But do we even have a choice to tune out? Whatever your opinion may be, the status updates you read, the emails you open and even this blog post are all influencing you in some way.

In the end, can’t we all just learn to love each other?Image

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