The Power of Persuasion

The power of artistry and media for persuasion can be used for occasional malicious intent.

I know, I know…you just read that and said, “Well, duh!” Seriously, though, I stopped to think about the direction our culture might have taken had certain extremely persuasive expressions not have occurred.

This afternoon, I read an intriguing article in PRINT Magazine about the post-World War II marketing blitz for hygiene products, and how the result was a silent panic among Americans that their body odor and bad breath was a horrendous burden to those around them, and so off they rushed to purchase whatever miracle-cure hygiene product was depicted in the given ad. I wonder if our definition of hygiene might be a bit different today if that hadn’t happened?

I wonder how much better our nation’s health statistics might look if the definition of “beautiful” hadn’t been programmed into us as that of a overly-tanned, eating-disordered supermodel (who wasn’t so perfect herself prior to digital image manipulation), or a muscle-studded he-man (notice I’m omitting a crack about an Austrian accent…oops, guess I didn’t, did I?).

I wonder how many public figures have risen or fell solely because they upset or made good with the right celebrities, artists, and commentators?

I remember an old 80’s song (I’m dating myself) by Snap called The Power. A line in the song (I won’t quote here for copyright reasons) makes reference to getting off the artist’s back, or regretting the attack that his lyrics would prove to be; in short, an ominous threat that an adequately persuasive and public expression against someone could spell social or political disaster.

The power to persuade is never to be taken lightly. Those of us with that ability bear the weight of making certain that we are persuading to the correct viewpoint, which requires some objectivity instead of an overly permissive post-modernism. All of us should also remember the value of critical thinking when confronted (as we are daily) by a marketing blitz for some item or other. The last thing our overly-materialistic nation needs is to allow ourselves to be programmed by more faulty imagery and fluffy feel-good words.

Who knows how history could turn on an eloquent speech?

We should know how it already has.


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