Super Propaganda

I watched (most) of the Superbowl last night. Before you accuse me of being a hypocrite for doing so after saying I’m not interested in watching millionaires who hate me give each other brain damage, know that this was part of a block party put on by my neighbors and I think it is important to have connections with the people who physically surround you. Since most of my neighbors are Gen X and older, they still view the Superbowl as an important cultural event and, even in 2024 with its fractured microcultures, it still is.

It’s not just the peak of a uniquely American sport, but it also the most expensive advertising night of the year, and so watching the ads and evaluating them is a kind of American event in its own right. Having not watched the Royal Handegg Championship in some years, I noticed a very profound shift in the type and kind of ads run during the game. Long ago, it was about products. Then, it became about brands, and now it is primarily messaging, that is, propaganda.

Familiar readers may know that I talk frequently about what I call the Corporate Period in the Arts, the 20th century pop-culture paradigm where large media companies create entertainment products for consumers. Going deep into that phenomenon, a pattern emerges where, over time, the corporate machine moves towards directing art popularity by fiat and attempting to use its established hegemonies to alter culture. In essence, corporate art becomes propaganda as power condenses and competition wanes.

It is interesting, therefore, to watch the same phenomenon happen with advertising, which was traditionally the monetization base for broadcast media. The first open propaganda ad from the superbowl I remember was from some 10 years ago, and was a piece paid for by one of the farming and ag associations (I don’t remember which). It was an art piece with a serious narrator talking about how “God made a farmer” to deal with the harsh realities of… farming. The thing is, working in the ag industry and living rural informed me that the piece was pure propaganda. They evoked the feelings of farming from 100 years ago, when a farmer maintained land and grew multiple crops and held livestock in a high-risk and self-sufficient manner. 21st century farming, however, is big business where the farmer uses expensive machines to harvest corn on his monocrop ranch or hires immigrants to pick oranges for low pay. Family farms still exist but the economy of farming is focused on large scale efforts.

One must remember with events like this that Gell-Mann Amnesia is a real phenomenon, and because you understand one ad as propaganda doesn’t mean the others are just ads – probably the opposite: they are propaganda which you are susceptible to.

This leads me to the biggest piece of propaganda from the 2024 Superbowl, the “He Gets Us” propaganda ads. In them, it shows “Christians” of various types washing the feet of “underprivileged” groups. Like any good piece of propaganda, its message is felt rather than articulated clearly, and in fact can be confusing to parse. Christians in particular appear to be confused about the ad. Let me make it clear:

It’s a humiliation piece. It’s about dunking on you.

Before we break down what is going on in the ad, we should know the purposes of propaganda:

1)        Improve morale of the base

2)        Demoralize the enemy

3)        Indoctrination

A great piece of propaganda does all three, but the third position is by far the hardest and only works in singular instances on those who are already sympathetic to your cause or believe implicitly. Indoctrination is a long process that propaganda can contribute to, and that is why it is so hard to get people to change what they think. Historical skimming will show that most propaganda is firmly directed toward the first two purposes. Typically, a government directs it toward its own people, to ensure the populous that they are right, and the enemy is wrong or even monstrous. If a government can propagandize the enemy, it is to tell them that defeat is imminent, that there is no point in fighting, and that they should give up and join the other side.

The war references are not accidental. One of the most critical pieces of war in the modern era is the information war. Rulers need to convince their citizens to continue contributing to the war effort, and that comes through belief in the cause, which is usually whatever the ruler decides people will accept as a reason for war. Propagandizing the enemy, if possible, can undermine the other ruler’s cause, foment rebellion or civil unrest, or reduce morale so that the soldiery are less committed to victory or even willing to surrender.

The use of the words culture war is therefore significant in this context.

The foot washing ad is very clever in that it is a demoralization exercise masquerading as something designed to convince “the other,” but it was in fact created by that “other.” This sort of thing can only happen when both friend and enemy are listening at the same time, which is a unique feature of the current American political zeitgeist and this one, singular event. Also of note is the shadowy nature of the group producing the ads, Come Near, which is new and funded privately. Similar ads from last year, backed by the Servant Foundation with likewise anonymous donors and cash sources, had a different reputation, and that change in control is obvious in the product.

One of the ways we can know the campaign is about demoralization is through the content of the piece. If you watch it, you will notice that everything goes in one direction. There are no Black Lives Matter protesters washing the feet of whites with MAGA hats, no drag queens washing the feet of priests, no immigrants washing the feet of Appalachian hillbillies or cowboys. Do transexuals go out and wash the feet of Christians? No, and in a darkly poetic twist, this ad aired the same day a trans person went and shot up an evangelical megachurch.

You really needn’t go further than that; the piece is propaganda designed to demoralize you and should be ignored. However, I think it was effective as many people (Christians and not)have been attempting to respond to the content of it and been confused with its meaning, so let’s break down the messaging a little bit. If you want it in meme form:

Foot washing comes from the bible, specifically the 13th chapter of the Gospel of Saint John, in which Christ washes the feet of Saint Peter and commands all the disciples to do likewise to each other. The scene from John is the beginning of a long series of humbling actions Christ undertakes or else allows to happen. There is no degradation that He does not suffer, not humiliation that was not put upon him by those who knew he was guiltless.

Beware, however, that demons can and do quote scripture, and will do so to deceive you and imperil your soul by leading you to incorrect conclusions about its meaning and causing you to doubt.

Notice in the propaganda piece who is being washed and who is doing the washing and compare it to scripture. In the bible, all of the people present (even the unclean Judas), were disciples of the Lord. They were fellow believers, not strangers. Christ serves those who are his (as the chapter says, “Having loved those who were in the world, he loved them to the end”), but he does not in all his suffering perform the same rite on Pilate or the high priest.

Foot washing is preserved in the Church on Holy Thursday, but it is a liturgical, not political, action. There are important restrictions on who receives communion and when, lest someone eat to his damnation, because that is a liturgical rite. It is not shaking hands, or making the sign of the cross over someone, or praying for or with him. This separation may not be immediately apparent to Protestants but it is present in scripture. Christ only gives his flesh and blood to his apostles at the last supper, a precursor to them offering it to all disciples.

The Old Testament provides context for this act as well. Aaron and his descendants (the priests of Israel) are to wash their hands and feet before entering into the tent of meeting (and entering the presence of the Lord), so they “will not die.” The ritual significance of this act is gravely serious. Christ is engaging in ritual purification in continuation of the Old Covenant and preparing the New Covenant which he would fulfill through his death and resurrection, and which would be continued by the men present, the apostles who are the new priesthood. This purification, performed by Christ’s grace in condescending first to Peter, takes place before the Last Supper and also the first communion, a new sacrifice implemented by Christ to his chief priests. The scene is weighty with meaning.

So, if we are washing the feet of a sinner, what does that mean? What are we preparing them for?

Putting that aside, the foot washing in the piece was not a literal display of ritual purification reenacted on Holy Thursday. It was a symbolic display of the Christian humbling himself before the ascendent woke left. Should we humble ourselves? Yes! But the service which Christ commands of his apostles was to serve one another. Are gay and trans people worthy of love and care? Should they be welcome in the church?

Absolutely, but we must define what love and welcome look like. All people, all sinners, are bidden to come and be forgiven and healed, and that means acknowledging that there is something to forgive and something to be healed. Repentance is critical in that process. Accepting a person means they are cooperating with God’s grace and striving to rid themselves of sin. Christ will meet people where they are at, but the real question here is where they are going. It is an invitation to change to be more like God, not an invitation to stay the same because you are just fine the way you are. Telling a person his soul is in danger is an act of love, not hate.

Demons remind you not to throw the stone, but they will conveniently forget “Go and sin no more.”

The desire of the left when it comes to social issues and Christians is not that they forgive sinners, but to Force Christians to say that certain sins are not sins. That is, they desire ancient dogmas to be rewritten according to their modern whims. This is why they constantly promote sacrilegious ceremonies in various churches and write articles about gay atheist Anglican priests. They want to redefine love and hate according to the current political opinion on relationships. They want Christians to affirm gnostic beliefs and give up their traditions. They want the bulwark against the reforging of man, religion, to be demolished or transformed into the cultural equivalent of your appendix.

All this is background to the foot washing scenes because demons want you to doubt your faith. Are you living it right? Are you a hypocrite? That’s the real intent of the propaganda, not to convince leftists to go to church.

Seriously, do you think that ad will convince anyone like those portrayed in the ad to go to church? I doubt it, and I also doubt it was ever intended to do so. Rather, it wears the form of something with that purpose, but its true intent to demoralize Christians into thinking they are doing something wrong, that they don’t have enough humility toward the people who loathe them, and that the people seeking to undermine their values and way of life have already won. Again, it is no accident that the who when it comes to this production are so nebulous.

I think the piece also works to improve the morale of the leftist base, because it portrays Christian’s being humiliated according to their own beliefs (which they hate anyway, to the extent that they understand them). There is always a dark Schadenfreude to the woke left witnessing anything bad happening to Christians and a perverse joy in any media meant to shame or demoralize them.

Remember that if you are a Christian, the woke mob hate you. They aren’t interested in washing your feet, but they think pointing out that you wouldn’t wash theirs could possibly shame you into shutting up and letting them have their way. Because this is propaganda and not the witch test, you can’t first demand that the ad proclaim that Jesus is the Christ and that God raised him from the dead.

There is a massive white pill to this, which is that the ad will strengthen the faith of the faithful. It may seem strange to some that God allows the demonic to interact with us to our salvation and his greater glory, but this is an example of that possibility. Have you ever considered the deep meaning of the events leading up to the Passion? If a person is subtly irked by the ad, demoralized even, and seeks study to resolve that tension, and comes out stronger, that is good.

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