Friday, November 09, 2007

The Arias: Ten’s Breach of Trust

OK, so you’ve read Subliminal Advertising on 10. Seriously. And you’re thinking “Yeah, sure, Ten hasn’t acted above board, but we’re only talking about a total of around one second of a two hour show. Is this really such a big deal?”

A corporate-run broadcaster secretly implanting thoughts into the minds of over a million Australians? Well yes, I think that can safely be called a big deal! Still not convinced? Read on...

Captive audience: screens either side of
the stage carry the offending graphics

It is claimed we live in a free democracy. It is a capitalist one, but notionally we are free to buy or not, view ads or not, and so on. Choice, indeed, is supposed to be at the heart of the capitalist system: if there’s a better deal we’ll choose that one, so it’s in all suppliers’ best interests to offer the customer a good deal.

In the case of commercial TV, that customer choice is becoming a problem for the broadcasters and advertisers. Even if the consumer chooses to watch the station, they can easily skip the ads. The obvious solution is to make more engaging ads. New Stella ad? Cool. Girl in Holeproof undies? (“Sock ’em, Rex!”) Hot!

Instead, Network Ten has resorted to the unlawful, immoral and deplorable tactic of subliminal messages within the program itself. And the degree of cold, calculated premeditation is chilling. Take a look at the single subliminal frame added to the graphics for the Breakthrough Artist Album award:

Dying for Type 2 Diabetes? Try Chupa Chups!

First, the background: There are two triangular areas — the bright one in the middle and another highlighted in Fig. A — and these echo the Aria statue graphic (Fig. B) that darted across the screen repeatedly during the evening. Fig. A also highlights an area of spots, which mirror the ‘aria’ wording (Fig. C) — also a recurring theme.

And the logo itself: The actual Chupa Chups logo has a solid yellow background. But here some horizontal texture has been added, along with orange areas at the bottom and a bright highlight on the right. This is done very subtly, using a mixture of partial transparency and hand-applied highlighting.

Why would anyone go to so much trouble preparing a single frame lasting a blink of an eye? The reason can only be to deliberately avoid it being consciously perceived.

“And we would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids!” Rove can be pictured lamenting as he’s carted off to a prison cell! In reality, I suspect there will be few consequences for the culprits.

We get the media we deserve, just as we get the politicians we deserve. When Tony Abbot was caught out lying outright on Lateline during the 2004 Federal Election campaign — “ what?!” he exclaimed, after finally admitting to a clandestine meeting with a cardinal — his political career should have been at an end. But it’s somehow accepted now that politicians will lie.

Imagine how much, say, Family First or The Exclusive Brethren would pay for the ability to covertly get their propaganda into our psyches.

If people accept Ten’s subliminal ads lying down, we’re laying ourselves open to the Orwellian nightmare...

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Anonymous Natalia the Russian Spy said...

Yeah I feel your pain Guru - but as many before me - wouldn't know where to start...advertisers and media outlets have this very very bizzare little relationship not too far removed from Cronyism...another case of fattening up the haunches on the public purse -without the punter even knowing it! Capitalism is a joke...the C word is just a pretty name in flashing lights - powered by white neon diffusing millions into Swiss bank accounts..!!!

11/30/2007 12:21 am  
Blogger Al Cad said...

Often beyond even cronyism — many corporations are in cahoots with each other, as discussed in American Dream; Global Nightmare.

But there are few moral crimes a broadcaster can commit worse than subliminal advertising and it’s disappointing how little this has registered on people’s sense of moral outrage. Of the major papers, only the Daily Telegraph even ran the story, as far as I know, and the article was piss-poor.

Like I said, we get the media we deserve.

12/01/2007 1:37 am  
Anonymous Natalia the Russian Spy said...

...we get the media we deserve...that's implying our laziness and lack of outrage is to blame...we hardly have the power to influence or change these practices...commercial interests always have a way of being justified, as you would well know.

BTW I don't watch any commercial TV - and one of the reasons is the very case you've outlined GURU's GURU

12/02/2007 11:12 pm  
Blogger Al Cad said...

I wouldn’t quite call it laziness; more resignation. In fact, we do have the power to influence/change dodgy corporate practices, especially in an area where we can vote with our wallets/remotes.

1984 touched on subliminal messages with the TV sound that could be turned down but never off — the propaganda would seep into the mind even when the citizen wasn’t aware of it. But a scenario closer to the Aria subliminal messages was presented in a sci-fi film I saw, circa 1990. The baddies had employed a technology to embed messages within billboards and TV shows. A small band of goodies had developed special sunglasses that revealed these to the conscious mind. They doled them out and as soon as people saw what was going on they joined the cause to fight it. (Admittedly, the sunglasses also revealed that there were grotesque aliens walking among them — hey, I didn’t say it was a good flick!)

But Australia 2007 sees few people that bothered that Network Ten went to considerable trouble to secretly implant brand images into the minds of its viewers. They would have weighed up the consequences of getting caught before using the technique and doubtless were counting on an absence of serious fallout.

If Ten had thought there would be an outcry if they were rumbled they never would have tried it on.

12/04/2007 3:22 am  
Blogger phisto said...

in genral i think australians dont get outraged , look at ACA ,TT , these shows should be banned they are so amazingly racist and xenophobic , the black face on ch9 , the next night they are justifying it on prime time tv , there should have been extreme moral outrage over countless incidents on tv alone but the aussie public is backwards and easily controlled despite putting across this laraikn attitude .

10/29/2009 12:56 pm  
Blogger Al Cad said...

True, Australians don’t get easily outraged. And I noticed even Julia Gillard seemed to be defending the black-face performance on 9. Mind you, that number was probably done more out of ignorance than racism. However, the media is always trying to whip up populist outrage – see this post. The genuine outrage doesn’t surface, though, until someone tries to, say, take the AFL of free-to-air TV. ;)

Someone pointed out that Australia has never really had to fight for its rights (with certain exceptions, ie women’s suffrage) which could go a fair way to explaining the apathy over erosion of rights.

10/30/2009 3:50 am  

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