Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Perception and Propaganda

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Perception and Propaganda

“The real war was tragic and ironic, beyond the power of any literary or philosophical analysis to suggest, but in unbombed America especially, the meaning of the war seemed inaccessible. As experience, thus, the suffering was wasted. The tricks of publicity and advertising might have succeeded in sweetening the actualities of Vietnam if television and a vigorous uncensored moral journalism hadn’t been brought to bear. America has not yet understood what the Second World War was like and has thus been unable to use such understanding to re-interpret and re-define the national reality and to arrive at something like public maturity.” (Fussell 268)

I found this quote particularly interesting because it suggests a direct connection between the use of propaganda and a countries status during wartime. It talks about how if used appropriately, the tools of the media may be used to sway and persuade public opinion in light of the war effort. In the passage, the author compares the media’s coverage of World War II and Vietnam. In doing so he notes that, hadn’t it been for a different approach of the press used during America’s involvement in Vietnam, the public’s insight might have been far different. Therefore, we’ve discovered that propaganda has a direct effect on a public’s perception, understanding and involvement in a time of war.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A thoughtful post.

Fussell felt that the fact that the American population on the homefront only experienced the war through the media rather than directly through an invasion or blitz had an important effect on their perception (or misperception) of the war. Did this romantic idea of war make it easier to invade Vietnam? What about the experience of Korea?

3/05/2008 10:58 PM  

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