It’s Time to Wake Up to Subliminal Messaging
Inserting subliminal messages into the entertainment we consume en masse is hardly new. After all, it is the birthplace of ‘product placement’; that is, strategically positioned branded products subtly suggesting you purchase them.
From the Beats by Dre headphones showing up in music videos by Lady Gaga, Ludacris, Pussycat Dolls, The Game, Snoop Dogg, Solange, Busta Rhymes & Linkin Park, Keri Hilson, the Volvo driven by Robert Patterson in Twilight, the Mini Cooper driven in the famous car chase in the Italian job, down to the Heineken downed by Daniel Craig in Skyfall – all are testaments to the power and persuasion of your subconscious mind.
Ask any psychiatrist who has studied the brain and how it works, this is pretty much accepted as basic psychology 101 – we experience certain emotional affects most times without even consciously realising it. From hypnosis, mind control and brain washing – this is all very real, persuasive and powerful stuff. In the words of esteemed psychiatrist and Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to clinical psychology, the late Antony Kidman “I think all of this exposure impinges upon our brains”.
The subliminal messages and hidden messages in the films, TV shows and videos we watch, the music we tune into and video gaming, is fast becoming the scandal de jour, as we are beginning to serious question if there is something more at play in the background and are starting to scratch the surface to see what is behind the curtain and what lies beneath. And when it comes to children, the stakes are raised high.
Earlier this year, the messages behind the release of children’s movie Show Dogs came under scrutiny, setting the internet alight after a popular US parenting blogger brought to attention what she (and subsequently many others including the US National Centre on Sexual Exploitation aka NSOSE) believed was a not-so-subtle inclusion of a scene that appears to be grooming the young audience instead of the films canine characters.
The suggestive subplot in question centres main protagonist Max, a Rottweiler and police dog who goes undercover in the dazzling world of pet pageantries. Keeping in line with his show dog pedigree, he is subjected to doggie pedicures, Botox and even Brazilian waxes, and it’s here that things get hairy when the Max must have his ‘private parts’ inspected par for the course to progress to the next level of success in the show. When Max is shown to be uncomfortable and wants it to stop, he is told to go to a ‘Zen place’, subsequently allowing the judges to pet his privates.
Dawn Hawkins, NSOSE Group Executive Director, stated, “The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children — telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort.
Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”
As a result of the furore, Global Road Entertainment announced they had pulled the Show Dogs movie from theaters and have re-edited it to remove the offensive scenes. The entire sage begs the question of “Who let the dogs out” in their ignorance of release in the first instance?
Only this week popular children’s game Roblox, aimed at age 7+ and with over 64 million players globally was exposed to the inclusion on its platform of hard-core porn themes including sex games, incest and gang-rape.
Speaking to The Sun, the NSPCC Associate Head of Child Safety Online Andy Burrows, warned against the game.
“It’s blindingly obvious a game aimed at kids as young as seven shouldn’t expose them to graphic sexual content,” Andy told The Sun.
“Gaming platforms need to be moderated properly so that young children are not exposed to such inappropriate material.
“It’s just as worrying that YouTube is hosting these videos that can be easily accessed by children. It shows why tough Government regulation to force social networks and sites to keep children safe is needed, with proper consequences for those that fail”.
Yet another high-profile example of subliminal coercion making the kind of world-wide headlines Kanye can only dream of and sparking enough mass Google searches of ‘hidden meanings behind’ to break the internet sans Kim, was the recent release of Childish Gambino’s (aka Donald Glover) music video ‘This is America’.
According to the populace, the release was a veritable onion with so many hidden meanings and layers in the film clip, it required repetitive viewing in order to begin to dissect and pull the real meanings of what the heck the American singer, songwriter, record producer, rapper, DJ, actor, comedian, writer, and director is actually saying behind the guise.
With Glover distracting viewers by dancing manically in the foreground, the background is packed with powerful imagery, extraordinary violence and more symbolism than can be consciously absorbed, he clearly delivers that by being distracted and by not paying attention, you can’t see what is happening in the background. With more speculation than the backward message of the Beatles “Revolution 9”, it’s easy to forget to even listen to the actual song, the tune itself taking a backseat to the myriad of conjecture.
Using his platform of fame and with over 65.3 million US streams in the US alone in the first week, Glover appears to have cleverly achieved his ultimate goal of trying to ‘wake us up’ by having society question and discuss the real messages behind what they are seeing, hearing and consuming daily.
And it’s a great message, as I only recently discovered (albeit 30 years too late), Tone Lōc’s 1989’s hit Funky Cold Medina despite its killer tune is, in fact, about date rape. The song details how the rapper is introduced to a date rape drug, Funky Cold Medina, labelled though proponents of rape culture as an aphrodisiac, and then details the ensuing escapades of its application in comical fashion. In hindsight, it’s about as funny as Bill Cosby, and just as dangerous.
Ultimately, what these examples serve to provide is a reminder that our minds are powerful, and that equally as potent is the influence (both consciously and subconsciously), that the films we watch, the music we listen to and the Influencers we follow. Particularly vulnerable are children, whose brains are yet to develop and are at greater risk to the impressionable effects of being bombarded by technology parents aren’t so savvy about.
Perhaps this article may be the beginning of your own ‘awakening’? I guess it will depend on your own interpretation of my message. In the words Alanis Morissette, “Isn’t it ironic”?