An incredible summary of 20th century business and propaganda
This movie is a description of the gradual shift of democracy and business to cater towards the flourishing sense of self expression and self gratification following the great war. Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud championed the idea that the mob, was a gathering of unconscious, irrational desires and if left to themselves would destroy themselves in chaos. He believed that you had to tell them what they wanted. Idiots he called the mob, and by combining different symbols ingrained within the subconscious desires of the individual (He linked woman's freedom rights, with the rights to smoke cigarettes, which were at that time, only socially acceptable for men). He combined these desired symbols with products to make society conform around these capitalist desires. He was the king of capitalist propaganda because of this genius to control the mob. The film then followed the rise of the hippy culture and the growing need for self expression. As Freud believed that deep in the unconscious were bad desires, waiting to come out and wreak havoc on the individual the hippy movement expressed the opposite belief that if you allowed self expression to come out, freedom would be attained and beauty would flourish. Marketers operating under Bernay's old paradigm had trouble marketing to this counter-culture and thus was born the focus group. THe focus group involved sitting a bunch of people down and allowing them to express their deepest desires about a product. Not based on logic but how it made them feel. In this way they shifted from manipulating about how you felt about a product to designing products based around the self expression of the people. But perhaps this wasn't the end of manipulating as they found that the individual wanted something to make them feel like an individual. In this spirit of self expression, everyone wanted to be unique, and capitalists seized this new self-expression. The underlying theme being that, when you want someone to choose something a certain way, you play to their emotions not their rational. Bernays still being right in this as politics learned this move in the 50's as well. They learned that they had to discover the individuals desires not their rational to cater towards. Individuals said they would like to pay tax for welfare but when it came to voting time, they acted out of their desires. In this way Bill Clinton would get footage of him doing the activities that swing voters would find themselves doing, as they must have found that people wanted a president who could relate to them. It wasn't the change in policy that had such an effect on votes, but a change in catering to the persons emotions.
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