Cultural Messaging in the U.S. War on Terrorism: A Performative Approach to Security

Cultural Messaging in the U.S. War on Terrorism: A Performative Approach to Security

Cultural Messaging in the U.S. War on Terrorism: A Performative Approach to Security

Cultural Messaging in the U.S. War on Terrorism: A Performative Approach to Security

Synopsis

Sylvia focuses on the impact of the 'If You See Something, Say Something' advertising campaign in the New York City subway system. She demonstrates how ideas regarding security and terrorism are socially constructed; it shows how the narrative of the war on terrorism as a political project was linked to the narrative of a local urban security campaign. Her thesis suggests that this advertising campaign perpetuates the politics of fear connected to the greater war on terrorism and that this advertising campaign is a mechanism of social control. Sylvia's research draws upon and supports Michel Foucault's understanding of governmentality.

Excerpt

The making of one general will out of a multitude of
general wishes is…. an art well known to leaders,
politicians, and steering committees. It consists
essentially in the use of symbols which assemble
emotions after they have been detached from their ideas.
Because feelings are much less specific than ideas, and
yet more poignant, the leader is able to make a
homogeneous will out of a heterogeneous mass of
desires
.

– Walter Lipmann, advisor to Woodrow Wilson
concerning national propaganda & public opinion

My fellow Americans: America is at war. This is a
wartime national security strategy required by the grave
challenge we face – the rise of terrorism fueled by an
aggressive ideology of hatred and murder, fully revealed
to the American people on September 11, 2001. This
strategy reflects our most solemn obligation: to protect
the security of the American people
.

- President George W. Bush’s National Security Strategy
March 16, 2006
.

See Stuart Ewen (1990), All-Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture, New York: Basic Books.

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