Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Subliminal living? Jeff Warrick's PROGRAM-MING THE NATION? explores the idea

Subliminal messaging?  Really? In this day and age? Oh, honey -- especially in this day and age. New filmmaker Jeff Warrick, in his new documentary PROGRAMMING THE NATION?, wonders if we're all brainwashed, or if we've simply lost whatever minds we may have once possessed. Either way, it's not a nice idea. From the infamous Vicary Experiment of the 1970s to playing the Judas Priest record backwards and hearing very bad things, from seeing sex in a glass of ice cubes to a penis in the background of a Marlborough ad, the various ways in which we might (or just as well might not) be subliminally targeted are all covered here

Mr. Warrick (shown at right) has bitten off a bit more than he can chew, let alone digest, in this documentary -- which is nonetheless pretty damn interesting from a sociological/cultural/
political/entertainment perspective. From a suicide due to rock-n-roll to the question of whether or not the media is driving us to anorexia and bulimia (or, what the hell, to obesity!), Warrick opens up all sort of boxes of the Pandora variety -- without ever quite defining what this "subliminal" thing actually is.

When I was a lot younger, it was thought to be the inclusion--  into movies, TV or records (yes, we called them records back then) -- of visuals or sounds so rapidly that the human eye or ear could not actually see or hear them.  Thus they effected our subconscious rather than our conscious mind. Yeah, maybe. In any case, as the movie makes clear, there are so many other ways  -- from simple repetition to including the word "sex" into advertising in such a way the the eye/mind does not see it via a normal viewing to parading violence against women into apparel advertising and somehow making it look natural and inviting. (Warrick's parade of "buried" images in ads is something to see!)

We get politics (the "rat" ad used during the Bush vs Gore face-off) and  war (getting into Iraq via lying and repetition) and Dennis Kucinich (above) pointedly asking why no one has yet been prosecuted for his/her lies. We get Amy Goodman (below), Noam Chomsky and "signal sending" of the sort that can jam our very brains into submission (supposedly used during the first Iraq war and on David Koresh and his Branch Davidians). We get Project HAARP (this is a scary one!), which means High Frequency Active Aural Resource Program. And finally we have one of the interviewees telling us that in Washington D.C., crime has been lowered due to meditation. Yeah -- well, where are the statistics on this, please? Unfortunately, this is the final bit we see and hear in the movie-- and it rather pulls the rug out from under things. Otherwise, as disorganized as Warrick's film often sounds and looks and feels, it's still alternately scary, frustrating, crazy, dumb and thought-provoking.

Programming the Nation? opens this Friday, August 19, in New York city at the Quad Cinema, and later in both Loa Angeles and San Francisco.  Click here to see past, present and future playdates, cites and theaters.

No comments: