Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Psycological Warfare and Sexual Propanda

I saw this very interesting documentary last week on psycological warfare in the Second World War. Charting the reciprocal steps that both sides took in an attempt to out do the other, in order to undermine confidence and seed doubts in the minds of their opponents soldiers.

Both sides used combinations of propaganda that combined erotic images mixed with moral sapping messages about death or ones that cast doubt over the loyalty of wives and girlfriends left back home. The results were haunting and powerful examples of a new type of communication material. Due to thier pornogrpahic nature soldiers would keep the images, and pass them around, despite their darkly masked messages, and became one of the first examples of 'viral communication'. The British used similar propaganda techniques with their own soldiers for spreading information, claiming it to be more effective than the BBC at getting a message across.

Entire departments were set up to investigate and develop pornographic propaganda, and as the war progressed, it is clear to see the evolution from hand painted pictures to more explicit photographs, and ever more disturbing and dark messages.

The British set up a fake German radio station that titilated the German soldiers. It became an institution to which they would tune in religiously, hooked on it's upreviously unseen explicit content. The British would then slip in doubt enducing and depressing news, such as recalling all of the dead families killed in the most recent bombing raids on Berlin.

The images employed all sorts of sophisticated tricks, such as holding the image up to the light revealed a new darker message. In strict stiff upper lip seriousness, one British artist was asked to doctor an image of Hitler, to make him appear as if he were holding his penis. No doubt such an image would have appeared in everyones inboxes. What is funny is to think that such an image was commisioned as a military tactic - does this department still exist and are they responsible for the many videos of Bush and Bin Ladden that flood the web today? Much of the activity is likely a precursor to advertising strategies and certainly adhears to the old adage that sex sells!

Much of the documentary seems to have been based on, or at least included much of the content featured in this site. Well worth checking out!