Do you know the movie ‘Tail Wags the Dog’ with Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman? It’s about a media spin doctor (De Niro) who, days before an election, has to come up with a plan to distract the voting public from a presidential sex scandal. The plan he instigates is to hire a Hollywood film producer (Hoffman) to construct and then televise all over the world a fake war with Albania. This black comedy had me thinking for ever afterwards about the news we are fed and how that news can only ever come through someone else’s filters – and agenda. It was no surprise, then, that gifted copywriter Tom’s post (‘The Danger of Simple Ideas’) had me riveted to every single word.
I was engrossed in Tom’s premise on complicated news themes being distorted and simplified by people “grabbing terrible events and bending it to their own agendas by making it about one simple thing.” That “when issues are complicated, progressive ideas may just lose out to simple reactionary messages, even if they’re false.”
Tom’s plea for nuance gives salient examples where the subtle subtext would make a difference to our understanding of complicated issues – from the flawed and recently deceased marketing giant, Mohamed Ali, to the terrible shooting in Orlando, to the #Leave and #Remain campaigns currently rampaging the UK.
Not surprisingly, among scare tactics and negative promulgation, the issues on whether the United Kingdom should stay in or leave the European Union has become muddy and impenetrable by simple messages and biased agendas. My concern is that these simple (and often scary) messages are then targeted to a specific and uninformed demographic whose attraction to the scaremongers lies in this demographics’s ability to only grasp a simple theme (eg: immigrants = the devil’s work).
I witnessed this last week when a Muslim women walking down a pedestrian street, minding her own, was accosted by a very verbal and drunk woman. The drunk, waving her family-sized bottle of cider at the victim’s head, was accusing ‘her like’ of “coming over ‘ere and stealing our jobs.” The irony of her being safe of anyone stealing a job which involved standing drunk on street corners at 10.00 am in the morning shouting abuse at strangers wasn’t lost on some of the staring crowd.
As copywriter Tom says “simplicity as a tool of oppression, a blunt instrument to shut down debate.”
I therefore recommend Tom’s post without hesitation as the one not to miss this month. We featured it on Post-40 Bloggers’ under the title “News – almost never about one simple thing.” Believe me, it will get you thinking about a host of issues – but hopefully seeing the subleties in anyone’s narrative and thinking for yourself.
Tom can be found on:
Blog – www.abccopywriting.com
Twitter – http://twitter.com/abc_copywriting
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ABC-Copywriting-190388547659923
In the meantime, see you next month with another pick from talented bloggers and writers aged 40+. And do remember to join Post-40 Bloggers if you would like a chance to have your blog or work regularly read for features on the Post-40 Bloggers’ content-rich website. It might even be your post filling this coveted BritMums spot next month!