Monday, July 30, 2007


Why is it that propaganda is so glaringly obvious when you're not in it; when it's not directed at you? The thought was inspired by a bit of Internet research into a little fellow named Farfour. He is the Mickey Mouse of Hamas' Al Qasa TV in Palestine. Quite literally -- the cute little guy is a dead ringer for Disney's smiling mascot. But Farfour's role is a bit different from that of his American counterpart. Farfour totes an imaginary AK-47 and preaches revenge (in the form, presumably, of murder) against the enemies of God.

I don't intend to take this opportunity to rail against the politics of hatred or the indoctrination of the young into a culture of war and anger, because I think the substance of those ideas springs to mind quite readily when one thinks of this Muslim Mickey Mouse. What fascinates me about Farfour is that those who partake of his particular Discourse -- both his creators, who must see him as an acceptable means to an end, and his consumers, who presumably accept him as a role model, a friend, a lovable companion in their journey through life -- are able to do just that. He is so transparent to me. Why not to them? Yes, it could be said (and has been) that our Mickey Mouse is the same kind of cynical tool for indoctrination, though on this side of the fence he advocates consumption, conformity, obedience ... family fucking values and Valentines Day. But I think that my awareness of those more sinister aspects of our murine mascot is only equivalent to the awareness of Farfour's creators about their mouse's function in the social order. It does not represent complete freedom from the Discourse -- because I am immersed in it. I can conceive of looking at such a thing with full objectivity -- of Total Enlightenment Re: Mickey Mouse -- which is a start, I suppose. But I can't actually do it. It simply isn't in me. The thing (and I've moved on from talking strictly about mice here) is just too ingrained in my consciousness.

Which brings me back to a question that I have been asking for as long as I can remember. How can we be sure that we're right, when others are sure that they're right too? Certainty is something that drives me to do a great many of the things that I do. In my work, in my leisure, in my interactions with other people, I act according to basic principles that I am certain of, and I do so because I am certain of them. But looking at the model of Farfour, something that is so clearly hateful and wrong and yet something that real people are absolutely Certain about, I can't help but question whether Certainty is a concept that holds any weight at all. I'm not talking about fanaticism, because we're all fanatics in our own way. I'm talking about that feeling you get when you know something is right. Beyond the unlikely notion that we're all better than everybody else, what conceivable basis do we have to trust that feeling?

No comments: