Modern Propaganda and Its Types (Speech)

9 September 2016

WarLet’s face it, propaganda is everywhere. It might not be in the form of war posters, so well-known and iconic to many of us, neither is it on big, obvious 1984-esque billboards; but it is it there, still influencing and perhaps even defining the way we see the world. The word “propaganda” is now defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “information, ideas, opinions, or images, often only giving one part of an argument, that are broadcast, published, or in some other way spread with the intention of influencing people’s opinions”.

Quite obviously, this has not disappeared, it has just become more subtle and involves different things. Today, I would like to bring your attention to some modern forms and examples of propaganda and explain how it works, for not everyone is aware of the menace surrounding us. There are 3 main types of propaganda today. Modern propaganda, unlike some time ago, is not used primarily in war situations anymore. This is probably the main difference from the past – that of today often aims to sell rather than to motivate to fight.

Modern Propaganda and Its Types (Speech) Essay Example

However, war propaganda has also not disappeared completely, although its features are used in politics nowadays. In addition to these two negative types, there is actually a kind that aims to benefit the people it is aimed at. Advertisement propaganda, whose primary goal is to persuade people to buy things, is the most wide-spread one and is encountered by everyone every day. It is different from simple advertising: by definition, advertising only entails informing the public about the available products and services.

However, our ads are anything but informative – even if we are given some facts about a product, it is usually one-sided and mentions only the positive features of it, leaving the drawbacks unbeknownst. Another technique it uses is that of association – by using, for example, healthy and young people to promote harmful habits such as smoking and drinking, the companies lead the public to believe using these products is actually good for you, even though it isn’t. Thirdly, the companies that use advertising propaganda often make unsupported claims about the things they are trying to sell, called “assertions”.

Every seller claims that their products are the best, their prices unbeatable – many of these things cannot possibly be checked, thus proven wrong, but they do seem believable if properly presented. Finally, the “bandwagon” technique, common in many fields but especially noticeable in advertisement, tries to enforce group mentality on the public. It is common to note the popularity of the product in order to plant the idea “if everyone uses it, it must be good” to the minds of the public.

Thus, advertisers use rather obvious forms of propaganda because they can get away with it – it is because the definition of advertisement has shifted from information to pathetically plain propaganda in the recent past, and there is no way to regulate it. Propaganda in politics is supposed to be more subtle these days: it is not acceptable to resort to name-calling in most situations, neither is it entirely possible to make up facts to shame opponents. The most common technique in political propaganda is perhaps convincing the voter that the party in question works for the “common people” and will benefit them as well.

This adds to the alleged sincerity and simplicity of the politicians. Additionally, the use of stereotyping and the choosing of words that have particular connotations, both of which were very effective in swaying less-educated crowds in war time, are still used in modern political scenes. It is especially noticeable when the stereotyping resorts to “transferring” the negative qualities of some past event of people to the current opponent in question, be it relevant or not. An example for this could be linking the crimes of the Soviets to any far-left party of today.

Finally, political propagandists often resort to using the “lesser of two evils” technique, especially in dire situations like war. This is done by implying that even though the fact that the party presenting itself is detrimental to the people, the other choices they have are even worse. It it especially effective if the opponents are or have been in power recently – then the mistakes can be fully blamed on them, leaving the propagandist party to shine in the positive light. The last type of contemporary propaganda I’m going to present is the rather positive kind, usually promoted either by the government or some non-profit organisations.

An example of this could be public service announcements about particularly wide-spread health problems like obesity, or social issues like drunk driving and suicide. These usually use exaggeration, even though the facts definitely have scientific basis. It is especially apparent on TV adverts, where the announcements involving social issues always have disturbing imagery and appeal to the emotions of the viewer. Sometimes, they use testimonials of people who have been in contact with the things the government is “warning” the public against – thus the disturbing stories of former drug addicts and people who struggled their whole life to get back to healthy weight are very effective at helping form the public opinion. While this form of propaganda is not exactly detrimental, it does provide the people with a rather narrow view on the subject, hence encouraging them not to research on their own, but to follow the governmental opinion blindly. Therefore, I think I provided enough examples to prove that propaganda indeed exists in the day we are living.

I do believe that each of us has noticed at least some of the things I have just told you about themselves. I am not one to say that propaganda is always harmful, as I mentioned a positive kind of it, but it is definitely detrimental to independent thinking in most, if not all, cases. And can “thinking” actually be called thinking if it is not done individually? Thus, as ending words, I will say that I view the exposure to contemporary propaganda as a way to test one’s ability to resist the influence of the powers that be. Thank you for listening.

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