Saturday, May 29, 2010

BP: Ham Fisted Propaganda

So the BP site has photos of clean water and happy hard working people. BP says you can use the pictures. BP says just provide a link next to the pictures. BP says you can't sell the pictures. Oh, and BP says you may not use the pictures if you're going to be critical of BP:
these images will not be used in connection with any purpose that is prejudicial to BP, its officers or employees
So I'm not using any pictures.

Also on the BP site are several pages that are propaganda items, like their page "Report From the Gulf" by BP reporters Tom Seslar and Paula Kolmar, who tell us that really, being on site  is all a great privelege:
Flying out on the US Coast Guard HC-144 aircraft to see the oil spill and mitigating activities underway was a privilege that never hit my radar of possible experiences.
Aside from this "privilege" we're also assured that they were cozy and safe, as well as honored to witness such wonders:
As I was safely belted in an airplane that had opened its aft bay doors allowing a pristine aerial view without windows between us and outside, two realities came into spectacular focus: the oil spill and the beehive of activities. Both are astounding to witness.
We're also told of the hard work of the dedicated BP workers and other infra-structure authorities:
Fellow passengers returned to the Mobile Command Center more determined than ever to do what must be done to fight this subsea, surface and onshore – whatever it takes.

Seeing it real-time, up close, eyes-on is, oddly, an inspiration to shake off the weariness, to look ahead, not behind, to dig in and focus with vigour on the task at hand.
Using the language to manipulate our reality: good old fashioned propaganda of the more ham fisted kind. We're not horrified, we're privileged.  

The isn't any views of oil spills but "pristine" vistas to behold. BP and other authorities complicit in this aren't guilty of global crimes, but are trustworthy and working hard, ensuring everyone is safe while under their care while taking care of things:
beehive of activities . . . assuring safety barriers and seat belts kept everyone secure. . . the US Coast Guard's skilled execution of the flight . . .more determined than ever to do what must be done . . . look ahead, not behind, to dig in and focus with vigour on the task at hand. . . 
Each page, like the cheerful little piece about "Chasing Tar Balls" and framing tar balls as something quaint like UFO sightings -- implying that both the tarballs themselves as well as the 'witnesses' can't be trusted --  delivers news of BP's "progress" with non-stop blatant propaganda. Language is constructed to greatly downplay BP's responsibility, as well as the reality of the damage done to the planet . . . instead, we are given artificial and transparent pieces on how  BP and other officials are hard at work ensuring everyone's safety; from the use of seat belts to being guided, protected and escorted, patrolling areas, and operating "with vigor." The message BP would like to convey is that all is well, delivered to us in patronizing and paternal ways. They're hard working and in control, they have the authority and the knowledge; the rest of us need to sit back and trust, allowing them to do their job.

It's scary that there are those who fall for this, but it's clear many do, given some of the reporting I've been reading and watching.

As with systems everywhere, BP doesn't care if they're believed or trusted; it's not about that. They know that all it takes is the non-stop messaging: deny and spin, over and over. They know they're transparent, they know they're full of shit, they know they're dishonest, and they know we know. But they also know, as all global- corporate- government -industry knows, that the more you say something, the more life you give it, until it becomes real on its own.

Thanks to piglipstick for the link.

No comments:

Post a Comment