When I was a high school student, Vance Packard’s “Hidden Persuaders” was on our summer reading list. Packard shows all the ways advertisers trick us, using our basic human quirks against us, which quirks advertisers understand better than we do ourselves.
Forever after reading it, I would annoy people watching television by asking: “Do you see what they are saying? No one will like you if you don’t use their toothpaste?” or “Do you really think beautiful women will come sit half-naked on your hood if you buy that car?”
Of course, advertisers are not the only ones with something to sell. Governments, especially those with democratic pretensions, must “manufacture consent” among the general population. They use the same tricks that advertisers use, because, well they keep working.
As aware of all this trickery as I think I am, I see that I can fairly easily be fooled- and by something as shallow as good looks. Good-looking people cannot be evil, can they?
Yulia Tymoshenko, former leader of Ukraine, is quite good-looking. Why has the mean government imprisoned her? Look at her folksy blond peasant braid-what could she possibly have done wrong? As it turns out, she dyed her hair blond and added the peasant braid to appeal to the peasants. She is a crook and is all-around not a nice person. For example, she recently called for nuclear weapons to kill 8 million Russian separatist “outcasts.” The Gas Queen is a bloodthirsty rip. My bad.
How about the lovely Israeli PM, Ayelet Shaked? So young and sweet-looking. Yet in the recent Gaza invasion she advocated killing Palestinian mothers and their children, because they are “snakes” and little snakes grow up to be big snakes. If she knew a little history, she would know that is the same justification all terrorists use to kill innocent civilians. Pretty little genocidal racist, but young-maybe age will bring wisdom?
I want evil people to look evil, like Dick Cheney. But they do not and so the best I can do is to remind myself of that. Frequently.