Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Way Or Another (They're Sure To Get You)

We keep trying to tell the public that NewAge isn't just about people who join cults, but the effect and influence cults have in and on society. How that works eludes most people, since they think of themselves as too smart to be caught up in anything cultish, but that's a silly belief:

Do we understand how the advertising industry seeks to manipulate our emotions and decisions? Do our children? I'm not blaming the industry - that's its job. But as parents, it's great to know a little more about what we are dealing with.

The fascinating special "The Persuaders," a PBS "Frontline" show, looked at how advertising radically changed toward the end of the last century. It debuted in 2004, but its message fully resonates today. You can find it online.

Advertising executive Douglas Atkin explained that it used to be a brand manager who oversaw developing a product, its packaging and so on. Ads demonstrated that one detergent got clothes whiter than another. But now all detergents get clothes clean. So what to do?

"Emotional branding." In the early 1990s, there was a shift to the "pseudo-spiritual," one expert explained. Creating a sense that the product was about "a way of life."

Atkin said that the brand manager and the advertising agency now have a new calling - to "create and maintain a whole meaning system for people through which they get identity and understanding of the world." Think Benetton, Starbucks, Nike or Apple products. Atkin said he started hearing people in industry focus groups talk about products in a way that sounded cultish. He got the brainstorm to actually study cults to better understand what made advertising effective.

In a fascinating segment of the program, we go back and forth between groups of devotees of various cults and various products. The rapturous, evangelical language is indistinguishable. What did the groups of Mac users and Falun Gong have in common? The same core desires. They "need to belong and want to make meaning" of their lives, said Atkin. Wow.

Another advertising guru, Kevin Roberts, is revered because, as he put it, he understands how to turn an outstanding brand into an "object of devotion" leading to "loyalty beyond reason."

Again, wow.
So cultish thinking is being used on you - you're even used to it by now. And it doesn't stop at advertising. Consider this bit of information about Scientology:

Using Scientology’s own internal documents—many of which, penned by Hubbard and considered sacred, cannot be altered and must be followed to the letter—Young shows that Scientology has a rigid, paramilitary chain of command. Even non-religious entities that market themselves to the public as having no obvious tie to Scientology fall under the strict rubric. The Way to Happiness Foundation and Applied Scholastics, for example, are two organizations that market non-religious Hubbard writings to school districts and avoid mentioning a tie to Scientology. Narconon and Criminon, meanwhile, try to convince prison officials that they are effective methods for turning inmates from drugs and crime. “To the non-Scientology world,” Young writes, “they will say they are not Scientology and try to appear secular.” But internal documents, he shows, are explicit that these organizations fall under the command of the Scientology’s hierarchy.
There's no escape, and cults have been attacking the psyche of the American public, in this covert or subversive way, for decades.

Here's another great quote that describes the situation, using the example of "The Queen of the New Age", cult leader Louise Hay:
Though you may not know it, you live in Louise Hay’s world. Are you a black man who thinks psychics are nonsense but reads the affirmations of Tavis Smiley? Hay House has a special imprint just for Smiley. Are you a TV-loathing snob who occasionally condescends to watch PBS? The pledge-drive specials that Hay House has produced for Wayne (“Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling”) Dyer have helped raise more than $100 million for public television — they are one of PBS’s most-successful fund-raising tools.
And cult leader, Dwight York, who was a popular songwriter had this to say about the deception:
"You were listening to my hits back in the 60’s and did not know it, nor did you know that songs which were considered ‘message music’ in the 70’s were written by me."
So right there, you've got cult influences on the rest of us through advertising, schools, government, publishing and television, and pop culture generally - all without anyone joining a cult of any kind.

And, if you ask us, that no one is alerting the public to how this has worked - or studying what effects it's had on our nation's decision making - is a crime of epic proportions.