“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.” ~ John Berger, Ways of Seeing
John Berger’s quote about the representation of women in the media serves as the perfect introduction to his groundbreaking theories about consumerism, that were laid out in the popular 1970s TV series Ways of Seeing.
Available on youtube, this programme essentially highlights the problem of cognitive dissonance and how it is used to create a purposeful conflict in the general public through entertainment and media outlets, although perhaps Berger wasn’t entirely aware of the depth of the implications when he wrote it.
In the clip below, Berger studies a magazine and shows us how, although an article has been written with gritty photographs depicting refugees on one page, on the one right next to it and presented as completely unrelated, there is an advert that sells a product by depicting a lifestyle. If you buy this you will be sexually desirable and at the top of the social ladder. (Magazine analysis near the end of this video):
This kind of study of the language of imagery in the media and our ad literacy has been familiar to me since I was at school. But it is only recently that I have begun to fully comprehend the significance of it. I always felt uneasy whilst living in London, which like any cosmopolitan capital meant being literally pumped daily with advertising and the message of consumerism; you are not complete until you buy this product. But it’s never struck me as entirely nefarious. It’s just the way the world works… right?
Cognitive dissonance is the experience of being psychologically unstable because you are simultaneously holding two conflicting beliefs that can confuse your interpretation of reality. But when you apply it to cultural narratives it can be likened to double think; a term popularised by George Orwell’s 1984.
The idea that we are purposefully being bombarded by conflicting and contradicting representations of the world, as Berger brought to light with his magazine analysis, means that we have no actual grip on the reality of the situation, or the trouble that is prevalent on a global scale. Like the adverts selling perfume in contrast to the reality of the factory workers that make it, our world is off kilter; psychologically unstable and dangerously so.
The gap between east and west; consumerism and poverty has been well documented by social theorists such Noam Chomsky, Jean Baudrillard and Naomi Klein. But beyond theorizing about these crippling problems it feels like the action taken has been fragmented and essentially futile. Or is that what the mass media want you to think?
Many grassroots movements and protests are constantly springing up across the world, perhaps precisely because of the deception and distortion that the media present, as soon as the movement starts to appeal to the human spirit and we feel we are getting somewhere, it suspiciously disappears from our news screens. All in all it ‘appears’ that the problems aren’t showing any sign of shifting or reaching resolution. Until now.
As the discrepancies begin to filter in to our mainstream media and the atrocities of deception and spin are surfacing, we can finally start to take action and decide for ourselves what is real and what is not. You don’t need to read Jean Baudrillard to understand the cultural narrative of the intelligence of evil; that presentation of good and evil the media thrives on which distracts us from the real undercurrents of evil; the enslavement of the human race.
As much as we know that 1% of the earth’s population make more in the first three days of the year than the most well paid of us do in a year (ironically, because we read it in a newspaper), we also know that this enslavement is occurring. And that only goes to show how enslaved we truly are.
It is probably because the 1% who own the media companies have created these huge gaps in society precisely by pumping the masses with feelings of disempowerment (you are only complete if you buy this product) for centuries. However, as the world wakes up, the curtain of illusion is beginning to part, it is now that these examples of inequality and gross breaches of human rights are really coming to a head.
As most of the world unwittingly manifest world war three (it’s not necessary, please visualize and believe in the realization of heaven on earth for ALL) and the gap has become so wide it is like teetering on the edge of a deep ravine (again engineered by the mass media) we see that the age of disinformation has plunged the depths of hype and is crumbling around our very ears. We don’t know what to believe anymore. It’s only by taking back our power and becoming autonomous and claiming back our sovereignty that will we overcome it. But first, we need to be able to spot it.
How to spot manipulation:
Notice how the media report on people’s downfalls and their ugly side. Notice how the themes of murder and sex are prevalent. Notice how the media thrives on character assassination and assumption. A picture tells a thousand words, but are they accurate ones?
The pain body.
The media thrive on triggering people’s pain bodies; that is, by reminding them they are not enough. It also strives on reminding us constantly of our own mortality. In fact, this is the main fear that is pumped into us; you need life insurance, you need to buy a house because time is running out, you need to get married because time is running out, you need to have children and sacrifice them to the system because time is running out.
There’s always this urgency to advertising and news stories alike, and it’s triggering the ego. That is because when we just be, we create wonderful things and step into our higher aspects or superhuman – that is, our true – abilities.
What the media sells us is grasping; the desire to be somewhere or someone else therefore triggering our original wounds. It reminds us constantly that we will not be loved unless we move away from ourselves. When anyone who has ever done meditation will know, that bliss and contentment lies in coming into ourselves and accepting the moment as it is.
The voice of reason.
I always notice that even seemingly benign media outlets and radio stations here in the UK adopt this male voice of reason (women are obviously encouraged to emulate it) that is delivered in received pronunciation and is immune to any emotion or flights of fancy.
It’s like the voice of your father; I’m going to tell you how it is and you are to accept it without question because I am the head of this family. This voice is particularly good at dismissing anything that cannot be reasoned with, and this really is the greatest fear of the British anyway. The lack of reason… which is probably how Gandhi defeated us with it.
Consider the motivation.
The motivation you need to spot is that of war. Become literate in how everything, even the above voice of reason, creates a gap between people. As insanity is seen as anything that operates outside the confines of what is acceptable in a society, so too is the threat of deviating from it. You will be sentenced to insanity if you disagree. That is also how character assassination works.
Character assassination could be seen as anything that doesn’t take in to consideration the human qualities of a person. This also applies to seeing a group of people as monsters or inhumane. Before you can overcome something you need to have compassion for it, but the mass media adopts more of a ‘they’re going to kill us’ kind of tone that sets off our fight or flight responses and drives fear deeper inside of us, again driving a larger gap between us.
The same applies to victim blaming; an analysis of the wording of rape culture is a good example. The headline ‘Woman raped’ removes the rapist and therefore their part in the crime entirely. This example of cognitive dissonance that Berger also highlighted because of its condemnation of women could also be seen as a device for keeping us from the divine feminine. Because what does discovering the divine feminine (in alignment with the positive masculine) within ourselves stand for when toxic patriarchy rules the world? It stands for Peace.
Overcoming all these programmes of fear the mass media has been pumping us with since the day of our birth is to consider the alternatives and take responsibility for ourselves entirely. Cut out all media for a week and notice how you feel.
Study your wounds; to do with women, your parents, society, being accepted or rejected without the white noise of the media interfering for a while. Then you can begin to see the moment that fear enters your body when you do read a headline.
What is the alternative in the world? Come into your own power by educating yourself on the wealth of spiritual practices out there that are available and don’t cost a penny. This is the future of the planet! Autonomy and peace. We owe it to ourselves.