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Michelle Obama at the Oscars: Deconstructing America

"Entertainment is the best propaganda." -- Joseph Goebbels

by
Jeanette Pryor

Bio

February 27, 2013 - 2:00 pm

In his often-bizarre but oh-so-brilliant analysis of the disastrous Star Wars prequels, Mike Stoklasa of Red Letter Media (video embedded below) commented on the opening sequence of A New Hope:

Compare this fecal matter [the Phantom Menace plot] to the opening of the original Star Wars. You see, a guy named William Shakesman once said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” This just means “don’t waste my time.” You keep it nice and simple. Without saying one word of awkward, boring political dialogue that goes on for ten minutes we know everything we need to know just by the visuals. Rebels. Empire. We get a sense of how small and ill-equipped the rebels are and how large and powerful the Empire is. The low angle implies dominance and the length of the Star Destroyer implies the long reach of the Empire. This shot says everything we need to without saying one word. In fact, this is so genius I have a feeling that George Lucas had nothing to do with it and probably fought against putting it in the movie.

Having Michelle Obama, first lady of the United States, present an Academy Award was such a brilliant strategy for advancing the post-structuralist deconstruction of America, even the Obamas themselves probably didn’t realize how genius it was.

When the first lady’s name appeared in Oscar tweets I checked to see if they were posted by The Onion; it sounded like the perfect goofball story. My heart sank when I realized she was really participating, and though I am sometimes petty or partisan in spite of my best efforts, I know if Laura Bush or Nancy Reagan had been teleported to Hollywood, the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach would have been the same.

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It’s tempting to consider the superficial aspects of this story: Mrs. Obama’s constant reaching for celebrity status or the irony of the Golfing Marxist’s wife legitimizing the worst conspicuous consumers in the country. But there is a much deeper phenomenon on display in this incident than the surface impropriety of her behavior — one likely to do more damage to America’s soul. The harm was done by changing the way we think about America.

First, a quick review of two intellectual processes. The essence of human communication is the transferring of an idea from one human mind to another through words, symbols, or signs infused with meaning. This sharing of mental concepts reaches its highest quality when the thought received perfectly mirrors that in the intellect of origin. Communication is honest when it respects the recipient by sharing ideas without circumventing logic and reason.

Human beings understand the world about them by distinguishing people, events, and objects and arranging them in categories based on a process of differentiation and correlation. It is within frameworks of clearly defined essence and accident that we live in a context of reality, our native intellectual environment.

Theater is primarily communication through symbols. While it often claims to convey truth, its medium is illusion and make-believe, implanting conviction through emotion and sensation. Though it is a round-about way of sharing ideas, we’re not victims when we freely expose ourselves to what we know is a construct of imagination. We have no reasonable expectation of honest communication because we recognize that manipulation and creative license are often the heart of cinema. The American film industry also has a long history of promoting ideas and interpretations of history that are close to pure fantasy.

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The founding of our country established a unique government close to and answerable to the people, and while individual leaders often fail to live up to the original ideal as a nation we still instinctively cherish the concept of authority being removed from open fabrication and propaganda. We expect the distinctions, the differentiation between the domain of truth and the space of imagination. Truth, we believe, is the rightful locus of government. The cosmetic universe of subjectivity and myth is the natural habitat of celebrity and theater.

Mrs. Obama, as first lady, is a symbol of the government’s duty to serve its citizens with transparency and truth. By becoming one with the props and characters of make-believe, she destroys an internalized distinction between aspects of American identity. This fundamental blurring of one human social function with another is insidious because, in this case, it equates truth and fact with fantasy and myth.

By one tacky stunt, the unsuspecting mind is ripped from its logical system of classification and criteria of meaning. America’s ideas and ideals, along with the dignity of those who lead and govern, are embodied in our first families. At the Oscars, these values are confounded with showmanship and deception. The woman whose position should remind people of what is most serious and noble in our country is indistinguishable in the gaggle of this year’s blathering, sparkly dresses. The wife of the leader of the free world oozed identical insipidity about the cosmic importance of dress-up as Botox-blinded drunks. The resulting conceptual fluidity is adolescent, iconoclastic, and tragic.

Lady “Never-Been-Proud-of My-Country” communicated ultimately that America herself is nothing but a deception, another tripping, stumbling pretender. Viewers also conclude that those who lead the nation perform the same function as those who mass produce make-believe for consumption. By mixing the symbol of our government with those of Hollywood, the greatest nation in history becomes internally associated with what is most flimsy and ephemeral in our culture; America too should bask but a moment in glory before making way for the next big thing.

My husband noted that the last time a political dignitary officiated so invasively in a country’s film awards, Goebbels was minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany. There are certainly some parallels, but I hesitate to draw them. Our minds barely muster a yawn, let alone fear of the Nazi producer and director par excellence, though he was, in his way, a greater danger than the fuhrer. Ideas are always more destructive than weapons, the mind being the true human battlefield. We have become immune to the comparison; when everyone’s a Nazi, nobody is (to borrow a line from The Incredibles).

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Seeing Mrs. Obama’s face on the giant screen, a journalist couldn’t refrain on Sunday from asking whether we now live in North Korea, so perhaps the association of Michelle with the fascist Goebbels is not wholly irrelevant. The greatest difference is the final goal; the Nazi used cinematography and propaganda to inspire utter devotion on the part of individual Germans. He gave them a fabricated, romantic vision of their homeland. Obama’s Oscar message, intentionally communicated or not, was that America is herself nothing but a glamorous hoax, worth neither our loyalty nor our lives.

A response to this confounding of truth and myth comes from a Person who claimed, Himself, to be the measure of Truth:

Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. The children of this generation are wiser than the children of light.

We need to recognize that the war for our souls and the identity of our country is being waged thorough sophisticated manipulation of our intellectual grasp of truth; primarily by an ever-more frequent violation of the boundaries between our individual lives and the state. We see everyday the increased mixing of social institutions that should remain distinct. The Obamas, and in their person, the state, are becoming ubiquitous; we cannot escape them.

The proponents and practitioners of the Marxian-postmodern transformation of America have abandoned outdated structures and trappings of politics. We must bring the fight for objective truth and the primacy of the human person over the state to the screen and the classroom because these venues drive the culture; here our fate is being decided.  We must engage minds through every technology and medium available and do so boldly, but honestly. This was Roger L. Simon’s response to the election:

Politics is downstream from Culture.

Reaching Americans where they live is the crucial duty of those who do not wish to undergo the otherwise inevitable consequences of the shimmering, smiling fascism. The challenge is to resist the temptation to simply subvert the organic pathways of thought  in the way fully on display at the Obama Oscars. Nobody understood this principle better or sacrificed more to implement it than the late, very great, and profoundly missed Andrew Breitbart. His genius lay not in imitating the leftist propaganda machine, but in his determination to wield the medium without manipulating people, communicating honestly by respecting the mind.

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Jeanette Pryor is a native Californian residing in Topeka, Kansas, with her husband and five children. A freelance writer and blogger, her published articles focus on the growth of antisemitism and misogyny in conservative organizations. Her PJ Media piece "Toxic Activism: Is Politics Your Drug of Choice?" chronicles Jeanette’s thirty-year experience in the heart of the French religious far-right. A 2012 graduate of Kansas State University (Interdisciplinary Social Sciences), Jeanette is the recipient of the 2011 Washburn University Nall Scholarship for her speech, The Freedom Writers and the Transformative Power of Holocaust Education.

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Top Rated Comments   
The media destroyed the country culturally in the late sixties and in the seventies. It's being destroyed politically and economically today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I had the same re-action to the First Lady of the United States participating in the circus of the Oscars. That re-action was considerably aggravated by the use of members of the Armed Forces in formal, full dress uniform as a background, literally a background, for her own simpering obeisence to theatrical fame. My disgust for this abuse of her position cannot be adequately expressed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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Indeed, Michelle's appearance to present the Best Picture award serves as a great case for symbolizing what a joke our federal gov't has become.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Communication is honest when it respects the recipient by sharing ideas without circumventing logic and reason."

It is startling and wonderful that you can write a line like that. Looking forward to communication.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good article, except for Mike Stoklasa's cheap shot at George Lucas.

"In fact, this is so genius I have a feeling that George Lucas had nothing to do with it and probably fought against putting it in the movie."

Really?
Another disgruntled fanboy who is so enraged with George Lucas he's not even willing to give him credit for the original Star Wars movie.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm assuming that you haven't seen Stoklasa's reviews.

He's pretty thorough (the reviews are longer than the films themselves).

Stoklasa credits Lucas for the initial spark, but argues that the original trilogy's success was not solely Lucas's to take credit for. Watching other Lucas films, and reading early drafts and ideas for Star Wars, it is clear that Lucas is neither a talented director or writer. He needs other creative people to make his stuff work. Back then he had to work well with others to get everything done; now that he's a billionaire, he gets whatever he wants - and in the end, we end up with the likes of Phantom Menace and Red Tails.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have watched his reviews. Anyone who reviews a film for three hours shouldn't be in the review business.
By your argument, no director should take credit for a movie - after all, lots of people were behind the effort. Ang Lee came under fire this week from some FX people because he didn't thank them in his Oscar speech. With out them, they argue, Lee would have had nothing to work with. So who gets the credit for a film or film franchise? To say Lucas has always been coasting on other peoples ideas is an insult to the man.
And yes, I actually liked the SW prequels. I know. Such a person exists despite what the internet has led us to believe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't want to veer too much off topic, but in regard to your response I'll bite.

Stoklasa made the reviews due to viewer demand. Yes they are long, and much of it is fluff, but when he gets serious his points are very strong. He is not a film critic a la Roger Ebert - he observes where films fail to meet basic filmmaking standards one would learn in school, and stretches out the reviews with various eccentricities that he noticed. They are entertainment in their own right.

As for Lucas "coasting" I never said such a thing. Considering the health problems he encountered making the original trilogy, I would never use the word "coasting." I prefer the phrase "Art from adversity." It isn't hard to look up and read Lucas's early drafts and ideas for Star Wars - they were terrible. Being flexible with his project allowed for a better result in the end. Now, Lucas no longer has to be flexible, now he can get whatever he wants without compromising his ideas (and freely admits that such is the case).

When I was referring to flexibility I was mainly focusing on the story itself. I haven't seen Life Of Pi but if the FX were as crucial to telling the story as is claimed then those artists have a valid point; if not, then they don't.

It's fine if you enjoy the prequels - to each his own. I don't hold your opinions against you, yet you cry "disgruntled fanboy" when somebody references Stoklasa. Some people don't like the prequels and think that Stoklasa's points are valid - get over it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The media destroyed the country culturally in the late sixties and in the seventies. It's being destroyed politically and economically today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't think you went far enough! Am reminded of Jim Morrison's The End. See how I responded to Michelle's appearance at the Oscars here: http://clarespark.com/2013/02/25/potus-michelle-and-the-end-of-the-democratic-republic/.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I had the same reaction when Michelle Antoinette appeared on the screen. Only mine was accompanied by nausea.

How empty-headed has America become when they can't even get a whiff of how manipulative this couple is? Bill and Hillary Clinton are mere pikers to these pros.

And between the fawning adulation of this entitled and angry woman and the sheer, continual emptiness of her message, I was mad at myself for watching. Dear Leader had struck again and I was voluntarily in attendance.

One thing that cannot be debated anymore. All the kings horses and all the kings men can't put this country back together again. That is the legacy of Barack and Michelle Obama.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Joseph Goebbels? Really? Kind of an odd and naive set of imaginings, given the fact that as far back as the Reagan years, his people did not care what the press said as long as there was one positive visual of RR on the network news most nights. And then, I'm told, there were those fireside chats with FDR. Every politician since Jefferson has used whatever media was available at the time to advance their cause. I think the squawking about Mrs O's appearance might stem from the fact that, IT WORKED!! The bully pulpit is being a bully; I'm shocked. Just imagine if she had announced that "Beasts of the Southern Wild" had been chosen best picture. ;-)
But maybe that would have been ok, because it is about personal initiative in the face of very difficult circumstances.
Anyway, if you believe that the movies are about illusion, whereas politics are about cold, hard facts and the two never should mix, then you obviously have you own illusions.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
^^^ One of the millions of insipid Obama enablers that will be our undoing.

Believing themselves wise, they have become fools.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A reference to cranky, old Mr. Plinkett?

PJMedia - I am impressed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Brilliant analysis. It's truth is heartbreaking.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I had the same re-action to the First Lady of the United States participating in the circus of the Oscars. That re-action was considerably aggravated by the use of members of the Armed Forces in formal, full dress uniform as a background, literally a background, for her own simpering obeisence to theatrical fame. My disgust for this abuse of her position cannot be adequately expressed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well said. One problem we have in American expressions of art is that the once sarcastic, somewhat cynical and challenging eye that surveyed the social landscape is largely Leftist and is not going to draw conspicuous attention to the weirdest hypocrisies and madness in our culture since those mainly derive from that same Leftist ideology.

Such artists will make projects like "Big Love," something completely irrelevant to our society but the right target. What is relevant is ignored though a tempting, juicy and nearly endless stream of targets presents itself almost daily.

Employees at the USDA chanting against themselves in a racial Two Minutes Hate, the NAACP sending 6 Los Angeles Chapter members to hold a press confererence about a racist Hallmark card they say says "black ho'" rather than "black hole," an anti-racist President who spends 20 years in an anti-white racist cult, parents sending their 5 yr. old boy to school as a girl, GLAAD taking down Kobe Bryant for a gay slur in the heat of a basketball game and then 2 weeks later endorsing the 30th annual R-Rated festival of hateful slurs against Christians called the "Hunky Jesus Contest" - the list is endless.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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