Hollywood is a staunch and effective government propaganda machine
Hat tip to one of my favourite people, Josie Herbert (@phinessence), for this pointer: a rather disturbing article in El Reg. It shows that a surprisingly high proportion of Americans (nearly half) think that “the government should be able to review someone’s search history without court permission, and 55 per cent thought financial records were fair game for unwarranted scrutiny.”
On the much-debated topic of torture over half of those surveyed thought that torture of suspected terrorists was OK, and a similar number favoured “harsh interrogation techniques.”
Three in ten Americans urge feds to read their email
Compare this to the more reassuring view of Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, in the second of her BBC Radio Reith lectures:
The use of torture is “wrong and never justified”, the former head of the security service MI5 has insisted.
Eliza Manningham-Buller said it should be “utterly rejected even when it may offer the prospect of saving lives”.
Former MI5 head: Torture is ‘wrong and never justified’
I suspect, but have no figures to support this, that hers is the majority view in the UK. Which begs the question: why this difference between two peoples separated only by language (and the Atlantic, and history, and 9/11)? I have one suggestion: US social attitudes are shaped by Hollywood while UK social attitudes are shaped by the BBC. I’m being simplistic, and you could argue that the media is shaped by society rather than the other way round – but at the very least the media will reinforce social attitudes.
Consider the law enforcement hero in Hollywood. If necessary, he will beat a confession out of the suspect. Where necessary he will break the law in order to protect the public. He does what we don’t want to accept, reluctantly but efficiently, for our own safety. The BBC copper, however, won’t do this. He’ll find some other way to protect us. He’ll stay within the law and treat his suspect with courtesy, whatever he privately thinks.
Incidentally, and don’t just dismiss this but consider it: one reason why governments on both sides of the Atlantic seem so willing to do Hollywood’s bidding is that Hollywood is a staunch and effective propaganda machine.