It’s the second installment of Weekend Conspiracies. This has been quite the controversial segment so let’s keep on poking the bear, shall we?
Again, there are no editorial judgements here. We are just presenting various schools of thought that exist outside the mainstream.
This week, let’s look at the phenomenon called Predictive Programming. NBC uses the term “Behavior Placement” (check it out this Wall Street Journal piece on it). What is it? Think of it as the technique of someone saying “Don’t think of a purple elephant.” What happens? The image of a purple elephant is imprinted in your mind. Predictive Programming is that via mass media by way of television programs (there’s a reason they call them “programs” btw), films, music and fictional novels.
From Wiki, Alan Watt explains the phenomenon this way:
Things or ideas which would otherwise be seen as bizarre, vulgar, undesirable or impossible are inserted into films in the realm of fantasy. When the viewer watches these films, his/her mind is left open to suggestion and the conditioning process begins.
Predictive Programming induces the “hey, I saw that in that movie” effect.
Here’s some examples (with some help from the Predictive Programming in Movies blog):
- Soylent Green (1973) – Earth appears “overpopulated” (the cities are full but the countryside is reserved for the elite) and the only way to deal with the crisis is to euthanize the elderly and feed the masses the masses (think GMO). A concept unheard of before the movie (based on an obscure novella) but now within the realm of debate 40 years later.
- Minority Report (2002) – The classic Spielberg film based on the Philip K. Dick story is a panacea of Predictive Programming. Pre-crime (NSA, PRISM, Stop-and-Frisk, etc), personalized advertising (the entire internet) and detention without trial (Gitmo, NDAA) – these are some of the themes in the film which was conceived decades before 9/11. But let’s just look at a comparatively innocuous (on the surface) aspect of Minority Report: the self-driving car. Americans usually like to control their own transportation. Where the idea of the self-driving car would have once came with protests and suspicion now, thanks to the iconic scenes you long-forgot from Minority Report, the skids of resistance have been greased because of an 11 year-old blockbuster.
- RoboCop (1987) – The violent satire posited the idea of a bankrupt Detroit in which elected officials lose all their power to private financial interests (think Emergency Financial Managers who have left half a population without elected representation). And the line between military and police is destroyed, a concept that is widely accepted today.
And it is not just sci-fi. For years, various comedies and viral videos made tasers “hilarious” (now they are used by police on everyone), primetime family dramas have said that autism is ubiquitous (now the rate is approaching 1 in 50 children when it was once rare), and have you ever noticed how often TV characters drench themselves in Purell (hand sanitizers are everywhere as are super viruses and celiac disease – more on that another day).
We’re not saying producers sit in a dark room and plan out the future. The world doesn’t work like that. Big institutions are complex and compartmentalized. Those in them are apolitical. We are NOT talking about the “why” only the “that” of it. And there are films that are earnestly made to warn its viewers of future dangers not to get you used to it. These films are often mocked, criticized or called “confusing” by mass media (Oblivion, for example) because, well, that’s for another day, too.
Again, no judgements here. Listen to researcher Alan Watt and his analysis on the subject of Predictive Programming: