Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Child’s Play

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“Cuckold me? I’ve got you now, Mailbu Ken!”

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

One of the key concepts of advertising is “get ’em while they’re young”. Building brand loyalty in a child can make for a lifelong customer. The same adage applies to propaganda. Young minds are impressionable. There was valid psychology behind the Nazi’s formation of the Hitler Youth. Just so, there is valid psychology behind the production of war toys. When you teach children that American military might is always right (as well as hours of fun!) and that violence is not only an acceptable but the preferred method of dispute resolution, they are getting the message. You don’t see a lot of “Ambassador” or “Diplomat” toys. The G.I. Joe toys and plastic Army men of my youth were little more than jingoistic bits of plastic designed to give children the chance to vicariously be a “real American hero” without the trauma psychological and physical that we all eventually learn usually accompanies being an actual war hero in real life.

Back in the day, you could go to the store and buy your children all the war toys you wanted them to have. You still can. The only thing that has changed is the need to go to the store. Now the store comes to you via the Internet. An item currently for sale at Amazon.com carries on this tradition: the Maisto Fresh Metal Tailwinds 1:97 Scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft – US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator with Display Stand. You read that right. You can buy drone toys for your children or for yourself if you are so inclined.The sale of this toy in the Information Age is a bit different than the transactions of my un-wired childhood. Not only does the Internet bring shopping into the comfort of your home, it also allows unprecedented amounts of news and raw information to be at your disposal to help inform parents and children alike about the world around them. And on commercial web stores sites like Amazon, they allow for instant customer feedback. The feedback this toy is getting at Amazon is quite revealing as an example of propaganda gone wrong – from the government standpoint anyway. We’ll look at some of that sadly hilarious feedback, but first, let us discuss the inappropriateness of a drone toy in and of itself.

dronetoy2Toys that aren’t pure exercises in imagination like building toys such as Lego and Tinkertoy and even simple wooded blocks or art supplies are an abstraction one step removed from reality. They are – even when highly detailed – non-functional representations of the real world one step removed from reality by the very merits of their non-functional, scaled down design and manufacture with cheap materials. However, they do represent an idea in physical form. Communicating an idea and fostering acceptance of it is the heart of what propaganda does. The same can be said of advertising and branding. Old school toys like G.I. Joe and plastic Army men had a single layer of abstraction. This changed somewhat as G.I. Joe evolved into the 80’s and a fantasy/science fiction element was added to the toys, but even then the toys were a single step away from reality as the toys were direct proxies for individual action, i.e. you were the soldier in direct conflict when at play killing “the enemy”. This drone toy makes “play killing” even more distant from reality. Drones proper are an abstraction from the consequences of killing as pilots in Houston use video game-like systems to remotely control robotic assassins from above half a world away. A real distancing from the consequences of killing compounding the already existent layer of make-believe that toys inherently provide. A drone toy is simply a bad idea for that alone. Add to this picture that drones – a topic largely avoided by the mainstream media – are still managing to be both an international and a domestic scandal for their role in not just killing non-combatants as “collateral damage” but for the international diplomatic and public relations backlash they are creating and our government’s willingness to use them in whatever theater they wish whether we are officially at war with a country or not. Not to mention the issue of their desire to use drones domestically as “law enforcement support” and “solely for surveillance” Sure that’s all they’ll be used for, uh huh. Until, of course, it becomes simply more expedient to launch a missile to stop a high speed pursuit. Let’s also consider the sheer inappropriateness of the drone toy as represented by the following comment posted to Amazon by a user named “genevieve”:

this is crazy disturbing.
how am i supposed to explain to my child that these drones represent real murder robots that are currently killing CHILDREN across the globe?
a drone recently attacked a school because they “thought terrorists were hiding there’
BOOM! murdered children everywhere. you wanna know ‘why they hate us?’
drones and murdering robots. and our military has been murdering their families since the 90s.

buying this toy today in history would be like buying an atomic bomb toy right after hiroshima and nagasaki. disrespectful. ignorant.

or more accurately, would be like purchasing a toy torture cell for the toy inmates at guantanamo. these moments in history when our military violates the geneva convention should not be taught as fun to our kids!! our children should learn from these mistakes when they take american history class as adults.”

Which leads us to this toy being an interesting example of propaganda gone wrong at least as far as the adults paying attention are concerned. The comment section for this toy at Amazon is filled with snarky comments with messages similar to the one conveyed by “genevieve” above, but funnier. Here are some samples:

I just have to say that the educational value of this toy is GREAT. I just tell my son: This is what the West is using to kill the Rest. We fly these wonderful planes carrying bombs and we drop them on people we sort of think are terrorists and other people, including other kids (but no worry, only kids who are not white or citizens of countries that matter) and who happen to get in the way. It is a great development, you see, son, because during the Vietnamn war, the West had to have actual people dropping napalm and other things on the enemy and then some of us were upset because we had to face casualties of our own, and some brave men flying those planes were not too happy about killing babies and such, but now we can murder and pillar JUST LIKE IN VIDEO GAMES isn’t it great? No Americans or Brits coming back in coffins, well – not that many anyhow, at least we don’t have to see it on TV, we focus on sending these nifty white drones to do all the killing. So this toy is pedagogical in that sense because it describes this fantastic thing that happens when historical processes such as technology and imperialism sort of mutually reinforce each other!” – by “Rsel”

“My little Jeremy’s birthday is coming up and I just don’t know what to get him! He already has quite an arsenal of toy guns! Since this toy drone is out of stock, I need some suggestions! I was thinking maybe a toy rape kit? That sounds really cool! It would have to have real duct tape and a ski mask, though. Does anyone know where I can get one?

I know rapists aren’t nearly as glamorous as baby killers, but hey, I’m running out of ideas here!

Oh! I just remembered someone mentioned a toy waterboarding kit. Does anyone know where I can find that? Little Jeremy can practice on his friends, so he can grow up to be a good servant of the Nobel Peace Price Killer. After all, killing for pay is an honest job, right?

I’m just soooooo glad they’ve made killing so much nicer! Gosh, now they can just kill, kill, kill, all from the comfort of their gaming chair! I’ll make sure little Jeremy gets lots of violent video gaming practice! Then his adult job will just be another video game! Fun, fun, fun! And he won’t have to deal with blood and guts, or severed baby’s legs, like older generations of soldiers did.

sigh

Isn’t the world getting just better and better every day? What a nice planet we are leaving to our children! They can grow up to fight in wars without all that yucky stuff…just slaughter children from afar. They are so lucky!” – by “all love based paths lead to God ‘loveisthekey'”

“Unfortunately this is out of stock right now so I can’t buy it. But that’s all right because what really excites me is when they get the whole set. Eventually we are going to be able to buy the Army’s version, Homeland securities version. There will be different versions for different countries and states. I’m really curious about the design that my local police force will be using. I wonder how long before the toys will come equipped with toy weapons as well? Exciting!” – by “george”

“For month’s I’ve been very lost. I have tried over and over to purchase the United States Military Aircraft – US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator. However, the US Military claims they have the exclusive rights to kill things with this UAV. I have continually been refused the rights of owning one!

Until now…

A few days ago I came across the 1:97 scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft – US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator here on Amazon.com; I instantly knew what I needed to do.

I ordered the 1:97 scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft – US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator, and after a few weeks I received it via mail. I quickly ran to my refrigerator and grabbed my Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz, (also ordered via Amazon.com), and poured the contents onto my 1:97 scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft – US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator.

Just as I anticipated, it began to grow into a full scale UAV!

Yes! Now I have a fully operational full scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft – US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator. I’ll admit it does run a little bit heavy. I also had to replace the plastic propeller & wheels, but overall it runs great. Storage is also very simple now that I have a full size display stand as well.

I hate a lot of people and now I can finally take them all out. I HATE THEM ALL!

Thanks again Amazon.com.” – by “teofisto”

“What power luster would not enjoy being able to unilaterally order the deaths of people anywhere in the world?

Which leads me to my qualification: be sure you are a leftist darling of the mainstream media, else you’re not ever going to get away with playing with this toy.” – by “N. Joyce”

“When paired with the official ‘Fast and Furious Playset’ that I got from the White House gift shop, this drone is the funnest toy I or my kids have ever played with.

Now we can recreate little battles between American Border Patrol agents armed with beanbag-shooting guns and Mexican drug cartels armed with the latest firearms provided to them by the U.S. federal government. The drone flies overhead catching it all on video, and the video is then destroyed and its very existence denied by top government officials.” – by “Richard Nightwood”

“Great little toy, but of limited use. Apparently the current state of thought is 1) Killing American citizens without messy trials or meetings with the judge: Good! 2) Using it, even if it’s unarmed, to patrol our southern border and assist our immigration control personnel with enforcing our current laws: Bad! And shame on you, hater, for even thinking about it.” – by “C. Fox”

“When I opened the box, I was initially disappointed. I was expecting it to be, if not life-size, at least large enough to take out a hospital or a baby milk factory. But then I realized this mini-drone has potential right here in my office. There is this co-worker, who shall remain nameless, who babbles incessantly and moreover has atrocious personal hygiene (odor) and a generally slovenly appearance. Using the mini-remote control, I was able to successfully guide the little Maisto RQ-1 Predator from my own cubicle safely over the heads of the lovely Christie and Pamela, who share my disdain for this particular person, into the cubicle of the offending party. I will admit that the report was louder than I would have expected, and I certainly didn’t mean to upset my other co-workers, to say nothing of the custodial staff that evening, who had quite the job of it. But the RQ-1 performed flawlessly, and after a stern talking-to by the HR Director, all hands agreed that I had made the right decision. I also am pleased to report that Christie and Pamela are now looking at me with new eyes. We are going out on a double date this Saturday. Sweet!” – by “george4908”

“I’m an attorney and have found that the law and the constitution just seem to be always getting in the way. I was looking for a solution to help my clients and I thought to myself, ‘President Obama is a lawyer! He uses drones to get around silly laws and the constitution! Duh! I’ll do what he does!’

So I got me one of these drones and it does the trick. I simply lure my client’s nemesis over to my office for a ‘settlement conference.’ As soon as the evil-doer plops down in one of my comfortable chairs, the drone makes its appearance and zaps my client’s problem – dead!

My clients couldn’t be happier. And that makes me happy. And since I don’t have to worry about laws and the constitution anymore, I’ve canceled my subscriptions to Westlaw and Nexis and those other parasitic services.

These drones do the trick. No more water-boarding, no more long hours in the library and putting together cases. One punch of a button! Cool!” – by “Milton”

The vast majority of the comments are of this nature. To be fair though, some few are upset that this revolting toy is being met to snark and criticism:

You guys obviously have no idea what you are talking about! Why don’t you start writing reviews about the actual product and not some half witted made up crap.

I’ll start.
My son got this toy for christmas because it is the aircraft that his daddy flies. he loves it. he sleeps with it at night, because he knows that his daddy is helping other mommies and daddies come home safe from war and he is very proud of him. Toy is very durable. it has been buried in the backyard, has taken a bath and almost eaten by the dog and still looks brand new! would definitely recommend this toy.

see, not that hard to write an actual review on the toy itself and not some crazy propaganda that has just popped into your non existent brains and has absolutely no merit!” – by “Disgusted”

So it seems pretty much everyone without a vested interest in drones thinks this is a bad idea. Certainly it seems that people see the toy as propaganda in the pejorative sense despite “Disgusted”‘s objections that disapproving of drone use is being based only on propaganda rather than simply having a conscience, being well informed or having a desire to adhere to Constitutional law. As previously discussed, for propaganda to be maximally effective, it must not be seen as propaganda. When you see the man behind the curtain, the magic goes away. For the adults anyway. An uninformed child growing up with this kind of toy will likely grow up to think drones are perfectly acceptable even for domestic use unless they learn better somewhere along the way. After all, killing and taking people’s human, civil and Constitutional rights is all okay if you get your robot to do the dirty work, isn’t it?

Is this toy propaganda?

What do you think?

Source(s): Huffington Post, Amazon

~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

P.S. More to come on the topic of vested interests in a future installment of . . .

The Propaganda Series;

Propaganda 105: How to Spot a Liar

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Streisand Effect and the Political Question

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Sound of Silence

Propaganda 104: Magica Verba Est Scientia Et Ars Es

Propaganda 103: The Word Changes, The Word Remains The Same

Propaganda 102 Supplemental: Holly Would “Zero Dark Thirty”

Propaganda 102: Holly Would and the Power of Images

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Build It And They Will Come (Around)

Propaganda 101: What You Need to Know and Why or . . .

Related articles of interest;

Mythology and the New Feudalism by Mike Spindell

51 thoughts on “Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Child’s Play”

  1. It is called FPV (First Person View). The pilot wears special goggles and the view is in real time via video downlink from the model aircraft. Additional cameras can be pointed in any direction, but the pilot has a “pilot’s eye” view. Heads-up instrument display can be turned on an off, as can be seen in the video.

  2. Dredd: Utterly stupid of you. The amount of information it takes to make an intelligent decision on most fronts is beyond anybody’s ability to learn and absorb in a few hours of television watching after dealing with their regular job all day. As always, you are an idiot parasite trying to promote your own addled blog entries using somebody else’s audience. In fact, you are the evidence of my claim.

  3. Tony C. 1, February 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    … The typical person has no time to be reasonably informed; we we need to (collectively) pay some people to make it their full time job to be reasonably well informed and decide for us …
    =========================================
    Utter mythology.

    Anyone who thinks government far away in the clouds of heavenly Bullshitistan (a.k.a. D.C.) can manage the 320 million people’s affairs better than the people can has got to be on crack.

    Why the jury system was invented is also instructive.

  4. So what can the masses contribute in a ideal democracy. I don’t “know” but here is one view.

    Presented, with all its possible outcomes, and with the moral values not distorted, then the mass may give its decision. After all, it is their risk that the elite feel they can handle better. Would not this responsibility resting on the shoulders of the average man, provide a powerful incentive for self.improvement?

    We have something in this direction in popular initiatives. Yes?

    Many questions unaddressed, but a short one for once.

  5. Why the lowly drone should merit a commercial toy merchandising program may be explained by the proliferation of the weapon system:

    CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004–2013
    Total US strikes: 362
    Obama strikes: 310
    Total reported killed: 2,629-3,461
    Civilians reported killed: 475-891
    Children reported killed: 176
    Total reported injured: 1,267-1,431

    US Covert Action in Yemen 2002–2013
    Total confirmed US operations (all): 54-64
    Total confirmed US drone strikes: 42-52
    Possible extra US operations: 135-157
    Possible extra US drone strikes: 77-93
    Total reported killed (all): 374-1,112
    Total civilians killed (all): 72-178
    Children killed (all): 27-37

    US Covert Action in Somalia 2007–2013
    Total US strikes: 10-23
    Total US drone strikes: 3-9
    Total reported killed: 58-170
    Civilians reported killed: 11-57
    Children reported killed: 1-3

    (BOIJ).

  6. TonyC,

    I made my point poorly. That the elite is better equipped than Joe Blow is not the issue with me. It is rather, what says that the elite can cooperate to the benefit of mankind, if so impelled. And even in that ideal state, they can not know what is “best”. What is best? The hyperreactivity model we almost have today, or the seven generation model used by native Americans, which depended on slow changes in their environment.
    What is optimal?

    Whatever, we agree hopefully that the current elite is profit driven in a concurrence to death economical model.

    Some nomads tapped blood from living horses and mixed it with horse milk to live upon. That requireed care of the horses. Our corporations have no such limitations. So many examples, but WalMart’s laying the burden on Meducaid instead of paying foir health insurance is one.

  7. OS,

    You are a scary man! I wonder if the RC operator had a down link showing him in realtime the view from the RC vehicle. Techno music? Appropriately for displacement from the pains from exploding bombs at any rate.

    Anyone reminded of the SF story of the battle between our war toys and ourselves? The unresolved question: Having eliminated “us”, what will be the purpose. As if they need one. Drones don’t think, yet. And then come the AI questions.

  8. Idealist: then why should we believe that there exists an elite which can do a better job?

    For precisely the reason you outlined. The typical person has no time to be reasonably informed; we we need to (collectively) pay some people to make it their full time job to be reasonably well informed and decide for us.

    We do not expect everybody to be their own MD, attorney, plumber, carpenter and TV repairman; we shouldn’t expect everybody to be their own politician either.

  9. Not replying to TonyC or his discussion with GeneH

    But in general IMHO, intent has nothing to do with it.
    Any who wittingly or not, furthers concepts that lead to a higher probability of a certain way being chosen, is an enabler of propaganda approved by “someone”.

    On another subject, related, the vision of the ideal fully informed and engaged citizen is impossible in today’s world. Even becoming a philospher discussing angels on pinheads is losing contact with the breadth of our reality. My doc is a arythmi specialist, in climical practice. She is limited to that and hopefully one of the best. She can not follow the research, evaluate it, test it, etc. That is the task of others.

    So whíle agreeing on the above limitiations of the average Joe, then why should we believe that there exists an elite which can do a better job?
    They are humans, not gods. And thus the guidance by an elite falls on this point at least.

    Mass meetings on world questions on the basis of one man and one vote is not a reasonable way to go either.

    And if the commercial forces gain their ultimate goal,, what will that gain them as the world slowly dies a heat death. Insane!.

  10. Scrolling by all the preceding intelligent (assumption) comments.
    I dash to add my special view, risking against all likelihood it having been said. What? Dammit!

    Why doesn’t Amazon have realistic replicas of schools, hospitals, women, children herding goats, etc all victims of our “might”.???

    Surely we don’t want to prevent out children from developing into a better “super warrior, LEO, border guard, chaser of escapees**, etc”

    Gladden your child and make him a better citizen.

    **O Brother, Where Art Thou?, type modern without the laughs, etc.
    Drones instead of bloodhounds……Nightmares of horror instead of houris by the water, death instead of salvation by baptism, blood catharsis instead of release and freedom through the waters of fate releasing you, etc.
    The second greatest film of all time, after you know what by the Coens.

  11. don’t mess with gi joe, remember he’s got that “kung fu grip”. when he got back from nam and found out barbie had been riding around town in their vette with that 4-f ken (ken had flat feet). well, it wasn’t pretty.

    joe had a county cousin, so to speak. he didn’t get drafted. eighteen years old and already had 3 kids.

  12. During the late 1980s I was in NY doing an internship and my boss asked me to go to see a movie and come back and write a review of my impressions of the character of the main actor, Barbara Streisand. She played a prostitute who had killed one of her customers and the lawyer representing her brought out that she had been molested by her step-father. I can’t remember the rest of the plot. The only reason this movie was important to this discussion is that I had not been to a movie theater for years, and was not aware that before the movie, a long slew of previews would play…and play…and play…and play. UGH! I sat there bored to tears while one war movie after another or one “shoot-em-up” violent cop movie after another blared on the screen. I saw about a hundred bombs dropped and maybe four or five dozen people shot with assault rifles and probably ten buildings blown up and a few car chases and wrecks and the cars and buses flying over cliffs and crashing into mountains, running into the ocean, you name it. The body count in the previews was about a thousand, conservative estimate. The least violent death shown was one woman shot to the head who simply fell down without more ado.

    The last preview showed an Asian child out in a field, and suddenly there is the noise of a plane overhead, and the child stops and stiffens and looks up and the plane strafes bullets all over the place and the child flings himself down on the ground and then the plane passes over and the child jumps up and runs full-speed into a small house. His mother (apparently) comes in. The child stands at attention and says something to his mother in a language I don’t know (a far Eastern language) (there were subtitles but I didn’t read them) and the camera zooms in just as the mom hauls off and smacks the kid open-handed right across his face. The entire audience gasped loudly! They had been silent during the mass murder that had been displayed for the previous ten minutes.

    I came back and wrote, “The graphic representation of mass violence, murder, destruction, and all out war is less viscerally affecting to many Americans than a mother slapping her child once in the face. The really scary thing for us is not wholesale inescapable slaughter, but bad mothers.”

  13. Gene,
    Kids have been wanting the latest technology models forever. When I was a kid, I had die cast models of most of the warplanes being used in WW-II.
    These days we still have die cast, but injection molded plastic is taking over to some degree. Go into any hobby shop and you will find plastic models of everything from sailing ships to the Bismarck, the Arizona and the latest nuclear subs. Not to mention every automobile ever built. Airplanes have held a fascination for many since Otto Lillienthal jumped off a cliff with the very first hang glider.

    There are radio control models of the Predator, and its second generation iteration, the Reaper. The short video below shows a Reaper up close in the hobbyist’s workshop, and the second video is a FPV (First Person View) equipped model Reaper flying near a highway in Edmonton, Alberta. He violated several safety rules, especially the one about never flying directly at people, including yourself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP1PAzdiekw

  14. Cameron – you must not have enough time on your hands. Its obvious you didn’t read the very first comment on this post before you commented.

    Either that or you have so much time on your hands you have invented a brand new meaning for the word ‘everyone’

  15. “I pity the adults that buy that rubbish for their kids.”

    And yet to rush to the defense of this particular toy.

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  16. Oh come on. It is just another stupid toy that is no better or worse than a toy model military bomber or military attack aircraft or plastic toy hand grenade (a bunch of which I saw at the store yesterday). I pity the adults that buy that rubbish for their kids.

    How short are memories. Remember the Gulf war when everyone stood in awe as US and foreign attack aircraft lined up targeted sites in and around Baghdad (and other locations) and literally blew the cr@p out of them. That included many non military personnel that were working in those places and no doubt did not deserve to be blown to pieces. It made great TV though and the public just loved it and really lapped it up.

    Now we have drones that can do the same thing and its all…. ooh…. ahhh. Well I don’t remember anyone writing long articles about the scourge of selling model attack aircraft – the same type of aircraft used in the gulf war. (I have not even got to the Iraq invasion yet).

    Mate, I think you may have too much time on your hands.

  17. Tony,

    It’s hard to tell from the packaging if this is a licensed toy, but a great many military toys are which means the DoD at some level has signed off on their manufacture. Given the very specific name – United States Military Aircraft – US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator – combined with the use of the copyrighted term “US Air Force”, I’m going to assume this toy was licensed. It purports to be a “1:97 Scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft”, a direct scale representation of the real thing. The intent rests not with the manufacturer but with the owner of the names and patented material represented by the toy – the US Air Force. This isn’t a generic plastic sword.

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