Propaganda, Technology, and Woke PR

By Jacob Phillips

Of all the traumas of recent years, few can match the anguished cringe of watching last summer’s “I Take Responsibility” video, in which a raft of Hollywood celebrities virtuously signaled their taking responsibility for structural racism. With 14 celebrities all saying the same three words, repeatedly, along with sustained eye-contact, it was more akin to a failed attempt at hypnosis than an argument. Although the reception was mixed, even among those who share the BLM agenda, critics didn’t ask the basic question of why it is that celebrities advocate on social justice issues at all.

Such advocating is now so commonplace it goes largely unnoticed. Last month, Mitt Romney praised Paris Hilton for her work on raising the issue of the Troubled Teen Industry, sharing gratitude that she is now advocating at the federal level. Paris Hilton is a prime example of someone “famous for being famous,” going from It-girl to superstar after a homemade sex tape was leaked in 2003.

Ricky Gervais came close to questioning celebrity advocacy when his Oscar’s Speech of 2020 berated the assembled stars for being “in no position to lecture the public about anything” as they “know nothing about the real world.” What he failed to mention, however, was the public relations industry which drives celebrities to advocate on woke causes in the first place.

While woke capitalism is highly visible, woke P.R. goes below the radar. P.R., of course, is always in the shadowy space between product and consumer. Behind all the faux-sincerity of those celebrities clutching their pearls and gazing into the camera to say “I take responsibility,” there is the army of publicists and consultants out of frame—calculating how best to maximize reputational advantage from whichever social justice fad is in vogue (and in Vogue).

Is there more going on than just this pragmatic manipulation of the status quo?

Some will retort immediately that different political ideologies and P.R. synchronize at different times. This is to play the classically liberal card of “neutrality of form.” Publicity is a necessary but inherently neutral feature of a world with mass communications, they say. Whether or not it engages with content that is highly questionable merely reflects decisions made by individuals working in that field. This is as far as Ricky Gervais got, berating the lack of ethical compass but not asking if genuinely moral orientation is even possible in a world that cherishes fame: “If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”

It could be that public relations and wokeness are partly reflective of a general cultural entropy, to which celebrity publicity is acutely vulnerable as the most vacuous pseudo-culture. That is, people don’t ask whether advocacy is the best route forward, but are carried downstream by the current of making everything advocacy without even noticing it.

But even that doesn’t do it justice. Allied with the entropy is a powerful force that accelerates in direct proportion with the deceleration of culture: …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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