01 April 2008
Fitna is the propaganda past: the future belongs to this lady
Let's talk about a topic dear to my heart - agitational video. As regular readers will know, I have long advocated the value of short videos that aim at getting the message out. With that in mind let's consider two propaganda videos that this blog has publicised over the past week. The first is Fitna, the Dutch anti-Islamic video, and the second the work of UKSecretCourts, an example of which we posted about last night.
On the surface, both videos are very similar. Both use clips that have been taken from the web and edited together with a musical soundtrack. However, that is where the similarities end because Fitna is an agitprop work that looks backwards; whereas the UKSecretCourts videos are the forward looking ones.
What does good propaganda achieve? At its best it does two things: it reinforces what people already believe and it turns neutrals into sympathisers. Fitna succeeds with the first, but fails with the second. The UKSecretCourts' videos succeed at both.
Fitna runs for just over 15 minutes, and that is at least ten minutes too long. What Geert Wilders, its creator, doesn't realise is that today's population has the attention span of a lobotomised goldfish. Anything that is over five minutes long will just cause them to switch off, either literally or figuratively. UKSecretCourts realises this, probably because the person behind that monicker is a young, very beautiful young woman who has been brought up watching MTV videos. Geert Wilders is, I am sorry to say, a middle aged bloke who doesn't really get all this new technology stuff. He cannot understand that in today's multi-channel world, less is more.
His video certainly appeals to the already committed. I spoke on the telephone to a good friend of mine who is vehemently anti-Islam and he was raving about Fitna. The problem is that when I spoke to other friends who fall into the "don't give a shit" category, the response was uniformly negative. Too long, too boring, too repetitive was the message that I got back.
With UKSecretCourts' work, the response was very different. Her three to five minute videos capture and hold the imagination of the audience and create just the state of mind that good agitprop should create in the minds of the uninvolved viewers: it makes them angry!
Yesterday I road- tested this lady's work out on some Mexican friends. They all spoke a bit of English, just enough to understand the simple captions that she uses. All of them wanted more information about the social work filth, and one went so far as to say that he thought that Englishmen were putos (poofs) for not shooting a few lumps of social work shit.
I think that the only criticism that I can level at the UKSecretCourts videos is that she aims too much at YouTube and similar sites. Increasingly, that is not how people receive their information. The future of agitprop videos may lie in the world of the mobile 'phone - in the third world it already does, as we can see from this posting that deals with how Iraqi propagandists get their message out.
Many people in the UK have a computer at home, but many more don't. However, the mobile 'phone is now so ubiquitous that all and sundry have them. Children and other young people are used to passing short, 30 seconds to one minute, clips around. Technically it isn't difficult to produce 'phone clips, so if UKSecretCourts can produce videos of that length, videos that capture the imagination as much as her YouTube videos already do, then she could very well become the Leni Riefenstahl of this century.