The Marvelization of Man series juxtaposes the marvelous world of Marvel and its universe of Super Heroes against the not so marvelous world of real life human beings. Sometimes the men and women who present themselves as Super Heroes swooping in to protect us turn out instead to be deceiving and manipulating us.
Way too often in our Modern Era the men and women presenting themselves as the Super Heroes saving civilization are hiding behind lies and madman tactics designed to intrigue, confuse and shock us into their mesmerizing realm of thought control.
Recapof The Marvelization of Man Series
My series begins with Marvel origin story of Morbius who as a “living vampire”, which is an archetypal character for real life narcissists. Morbius flopped even though it should have racked in the bucks as discussed in depth in Part 2 of The Marvelization of Man.
Part 3 of The Marvelization of Man dives into how our minds work and why when a conglomerate company like Disney absorbs the universes of Marvel, Star Wars, Predator, and so many others, the movies they spin out can fall into the trap of creating transactional characters who are made to fit into a highly formula movie that is calculated to do one thing: make lots of money.
This results in weak storytelling and weak Super Heroes. Lacking strong Super Hero stories can water down our inner ability to resist mass manipulation of the kind Joost speaks about in his book: The Rape of the Mind, published in 1956. Super Heroes are our modern versions of archetypal stories and when we tell weak archetypal stories, we lack strong models to base the development of our own inner archetypal stories impacting every aspect of our ordinary lives.
Part 4 of The Marvelization of Man is delving deeper into the subtle art of mind control. It is something our Modern world has excelled at doing and perfected regardless of whether you live in a totalitarian system of government where overt mind control is used by nation-state like Russia, China, or Saudi Arabia OR if you live in a free-wheeling, capitalistic nation-state like the United States, Britain, Australia, or pretty much any nation aligning themselves economically and politically with the Western values and civilization.
The purpose of the second part of this book is to show various aspects of political and non-political strategy used to change the feelings and thoughts of the masses, starting with simple advertising and propaganda, then surveying psychological warfare and actual cold war, and going on to examine the means used for internal streamlining of man's thoughts and behaviour. Part Two ends with an intricate examination of how one of the tools of emotional fascination and attack -- the weapon of fear -- is used and what reactions it arouses in men.
-- page 65 | The Rape of the Mind
I will highlight parts of Chapter 5 discussing Psychological Warfare as a Weapon of Terror (Page 69 — The Rape of the Mind) and provide current models of how this continues to take place today.
Psychological Warfare as a Weapon of Terror
Chapter 5: The Cold War Against the Mind.
Every human communication can be either a report of straight facts or an attempt to suggest things and situations as they do not exist. Such distortion and perversion of facts strike at the core of human communication. The verbal battle against man's concept of truth and against his mind seems to be ceaseless. For example, if I can instill in eventual future enemies fear and terror and the suggestion of impending defeat, even before they are willing to fight, my battle is already half won.
-- Page 69 - 70 | The Rape of the Mind
The strategy of man to use a frightening mask and a loud voice to utter lies in order to manipulate friend and foe is as old as mankind. Primitive people used terror-provoking masks, magic fascination, or self-deceit as much as we use loudly spoken words to convince others or ourselves. They use their magic paints and we our ideologies. Truly, we live in an age of ads, propaganda, and publicity. But only under dictatorial and totalitarian regimes have such human habit formations mushroomed into systematic psychological assault on mankind.
-- Page 69 - 70 | The Rape of the Mind
The weapons the dictator uses against his own people, he may use against the outside world as well. For example, the false confessions that divert the minds of dictator's subjects from their own real problems have still another effect: they are meant (and sometimes they succeed in their aim) to terrorize the world's public. By strengthening the myth of the dictator's omnipotence, such confessions weaken man's will to resist him. If a period of peace can be used to soften up a future enemy, the totalitarian armies may be able in time of war to win a cheap and easy victory. Totalitarian psychological warfare is directed largely toward this end. It is an effort to propagandize and hypnotize the world into submission.
-- Page 69 - 70 | The Rape of the Mind
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with journalists after a live broadcast nationwide call-in, Moscow, April 14, 2016
We characterize the contemporary Russian model for propaganda as “the firehose of falsehood” because of two of its distinctive features: high numbers of channels and messages and a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions. In the words of one observer, “[N]ew Russian propaganda entertains, confuses and overwhelms the audience.”2
Contemporary Russian propaganda has at least two other distinctive features. It is also rapid, continuous, and repetitive, and it lacks commitment to consistency.
Russia’s years-long information war was instrumental in informing Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. This effort has failed to build support for Russia among Russian-speaking Ukrainians, especially in Donbas.
A key example is the myth of “Novorossiya”. The term, which means “New Russia”, is meant to conjure up feelings of a restored Russian empire and righting the historical “wrong” of assigning Russian lands under Ukrainian jurisdiction.
Since 2014, Putin, the Kremlin’s propaganda strategists, and insurgents in the “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk repeatedly referred to “Novorossiya” as one of the justifications for Russia’s invasion.
In reality, there never was a Novorossiya. As an ideological project, it has failed to take hold in the minds of those living on its supposed territories in eastern and southern Ukraine, and was abandoned by Russia and the authorities of the “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk as soon as it became politically inconvenient.
As far back as the early nineteenth century, Napoleon organized his Bureau de l'Opinion Publique in order to influence the thinking of the French people. But it fell to the Germans to develop the manipulation of public opinion into a huge, well organized machine. Their psychological warfare became aggressive strategy in peacetime, the so-called war between wars. It was as a result of the Nazi attack on European morale and the Nazi war of nerves against their neighbours that the other nations of the world began to organize their own psychological forces, but it was only in the second half of the war that they were able to achieve some measure of success. The Germans had a long head start.
-- Page 69 - 70 | The Rape of the Mind
Hitler's psychological artillery was composed primarily of the weapon of fear. He had, for example, a network of fifth columnists whose main job was to sow rumours and suspicions among the citizens of the countries against which he eventually planned to fight. The people were upset not only by the spy system itself, but by the very rumour of spies. These fifth columnists spread slogans of defeat and political confusion: "Why should France die for England?" Fear began to direct people's actions. Instead of facing the real threat of German invasion, instead of preparing for it, all of Europe shuddered at spy stories, discussed irrelevant problems, argued endlessly about scapegoats and minorities. Thus Hitler used the rampant, vague fears to becloud the real issues, and by attacking his enemies' will to fight, weakened them.
-- Page 69 - 70 | The Rape of the Mind
Not content with this strategic attack on the will to defend oneself, Hitler tried to paralyze Europe with the threat of terror, not only the threat of bombing, destruction, and occupation, but also the psychological threat implicit in his own boast of ruthlessness. The fear of an implacable foe makes man more willing to submit even before he has begun to fight. Hitler's criminal acts at home -- the concentration camps, the gas chambers, the mass murders, the atmosphere of terror throughout Germany - were as useful in the service of his fear-instilling propaganda machinery as they were a part of his delusions.
-- Page 69 - 70 | The Rape of the Mind
There is another important weapon the totalitarians use in their campaign to frighten the world into submission. This is the weapon of psychological shock. Hitler kept his enemies in a state of constant confusion and diplomatic upheaval. They never knew what this unpredictable madman was going to do next. Hitler was never logical, because he knew that that was what he was expected to be. Logic can be met with logic, while illogic cannot - it confuses those who think straight. The Big Lie and monotonously repeated nonsense have more emotional appeal in a cold war than logic and reason. While the enemy is still searching for a reasonable counter-argument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault him with another.
-- Page 69 - 70 | The Rape of the Mind
Part 1: The Marvelization of Man, I pokes fun at the entertainment universes owned by Disney. However, I am glad Mark Parker (Disney Chairman) and Bob Iger (Disney CEO) are such a gargantuan company that they can go toe-to-toe with grumpy Governor Ron DeSantis. He is polling at 19% as the man in the 2024 Republican Presidential campaign who is trying to be Trumper than Trump.
Part 2: The Marvelization of Man dives into The Narcissist. This is what Morbius’ character embodies for he is a ‘Living Vampire’. But Morbius is a nice vampire (aka he is an evolved Narcissist). This evolution is necessary because by the 1970s narcissism has proliferated to unprecedented levels in America and any culture embracing a free-market economy based on capitalism.
For the most part, free-market economies embracing capitalism flourish in Western Civilization, and it is here where we find the underbelly of the beast of thought control: The Public-Opinion Engineers, which this blog will explore. This is what Joost Merloo writes about in the second half of his 1956 book The Rape of the Mind.
The first half of his book is dedicated to the mirror image of a free-market capitalist based society. This mirror image is totalitarian capitalism where there is is an economic system in which a capitalist market economy exists alongside an authoritarian government. A more extreme version of this mirror image is simply totalitarian communism (or simply totalitarian rule) where overt thought control is employed to get society to produce the riches that the upper 1% depend upon to enjoy their super luxurious life styles.
The totalitarian style of thought control is what Joost Merloo writes about in the first part of his book. The free-market capitalist style of thought control is what Joost writes about in the second part of his book.
This series: The Marvelization of Man delves into covert forms of thought control. I specifically draw from Joost Merloo who describes covert thought control techniques in the second part of his book: The Rape of the Mind.
One of the only ways to build up resistance to mind conditioning and other forms of thought control is to understand more about how your mind works. One of the essential components of a healthy mind are active fully realized archetypes. A conscious person’s mind simply does not work without them.
However, just like our bodies, we need to pay attention and take care of the systems running and regulating our mind. A person who eats junk food, does not exercise, does not sleep enough, abuses drugs and alcohol is going to run down and ultimately destroy their body faster than a person who does the opposite thing.
The same is true of the mind. If we don’t understand, pay attention to, and exercise our mind, we are going to fall prey to the predators of our society. And they exist in democratic, fake democratic, communist, and totally totalitarian systems. And The Narcissistic personality plays an oversized role in all our modern economic systems. This is why I think Morbius is an important Marvel character and why I focused on The Narcissist in Part 2: The Marvelization of Man.
It is during the 1970s, which is when Morbius was first created, that The Narcissist really proliferates American society. They were certainly multiplying by the buck loads in the 1960s, but the 1970s, the bucket of narcissism runneth over.
Morbius realizes his mistake in hunting for a cure to his crippling disease and he doesn’t want to drink human blood to survive. Fortunately, he invented synthetic blood, which is tiding him over, but it’s not as good as human blood and eventually, it will not sustain him.
He thinks ending his life will solve the problem, but his best childhood friend with the same disease gets his vampire serum, and so now there are two of them: one nice, the other one not nice.
Morbius is forced to hunt down his friend using his vampire super powers, but it’s not easy because his mean friend has them too. This is where we get to the critical idea that it just might take a monster to kill a monster. In other words, it takes a good vampire to kill a bad vampire.
Applying this to the archetype that the vampire represents, it just might take a recovering Narcissist to dethrone or take down a very sick Narcissist. Think Bob Iger (Disney CEO) [the narcissists trying to be a good narcissists] and grumpy Governor Ron DeSantis [the narcissists trying to be meaner, mightier, and uglier than the Trump Narc who is the biggest, baddest Narc clobbering anyone in the Republican Party who goes against him].
Narcissism Runs Rampant in American Culture
Before leaving this idea of how narcissism dominates the social, political, and economic systems of American Culture (as well as most of Western Culture, which does not leave the rest of the world off the hook, they simply have overt narcissism running rampant while American and Western Cultures are cultivating covert narcissism), I want to highlight Andy Dunn and his story of success at the price of his mental health.
Andy Dunn, co-founded of the men’s apparel company Bonobos in 2007, agrees with me about American corporate culture being one that embraces and celebrate narcissism. In his TedTalk about Starting a company, dealing with bipolar disorder and struggling to manage both, he describes how our modern capitalist market-based economy basically makes being a Narcissist a prerequisite to start a company or be a CEO as well as other mental health disorders or illnesses.
Super Hero Stories Are Important
Also, before Joost’s chapter on the Opinion Engineers, I want to highlight why super hero characters in comic books, novels, and movies are vital to our mental wellbeing.
The stories we tell each other and to ourselves do much more than entertain us. They condition our minds to operate in certain ways.
Christopher Nolan and Batman
I heard Christopher Nolan on Fresh Air talk with Terry Gross about his new movie Oppenheimer. They also talked about “Dunkirk,” “Tenet,” the “Batman” trilogy, “Inception,” “Insomnia” and “Memento.” What he said about Batman (a different super hero universe but important nonetheless) is relevant to the points I am attempting to communicate about archetypes and how our minds work.
NOLAN: Well, I think, like a lot of kids, you know, I would read comics. And they were a great sort of launchpad for your imagination. You know, the way in which your brain processes the frames of a comic book, not unlike the way a filmmaker processes storyboards, you know, that have been drawn for a sequence or something - you're kind of - you're using your brain to flesh out from the work of the sort of artists and writers. And I became more interested in the character of Batman in that great era of sort of graphic novels - you know, the work of people like Frank Miller in particular. So they meant mythology, I suppose. They meant modern-day mythology, and they meant larger-than-life sort of operatic figures.
So when I took on the character of Batman in the trilogy we made, in the "Dark Knight" trilogy, you know, it was really all about an operatic approach to storytelling. So it's heightened reality, and that character really allows you to do that. And what I loved about Batman - of all the characters, the reason I wanted to deal with Batman is for me, he was the most human and relatable of superheroes because he doesn't really have any superpowers unless you count his extraordinary wealth. You know, that's the thing he brings to bear. But he's basically a guy who does a lot of pushups. And...
Nolan thinks comic book super heroes are important! They help us workout our minds and grow new abilities such as imagination, creativity, and film-making-storytelling. Nolan believes comic book super heroes fill a place in our mind where meaning is made and purpose is born.
This is an important place Nolan speaks of. It is that invisible place deep inside every human being where larger-than-life, operatic characters live. These are the archetypes. Think of them more like pools and reservoirs of energy. Each pool or reservoir provides the energy and mental models needed to understand and met specific situations, moments, and challenges in our lives.
These moments and challenges are universal to all people. The archetypes might take different shapes and wear different costumes depending on culture and time, but they represent the same energy of human beings grappling with situations and life experiences that are uniquely human.
Archetypes transcend place and time. Archetypes hold the collective experiences, challenges, and cognitive changes we have made to instincts going back, back, back to the very first conscious Homo sapiens (of which we are one species of six and we are the last surviving species, if we can survive the consequences of consciousness).
Archetypes are the mirror image of instincts. They energize and inspire us to fulfill and handle the life situations and challenges confronting us every day. Archetypes are arches because they contain the energy of instincts changed by consciousness that channeled action in a way better than what nature would have allowed through instinctual responses. And, they contain all the energy of instincts changed by consciousness that channeled action in a way that turned out worse than nature would have allowed through instincts.
Think of archetypes like memories for the mind to use instantaneously to respond to things happening inside and outside of the body.
When we cultivate and exercise our mind, in the way Nolan describes, we grow the capacity to solve our problems and handle our life situations in new and novel ways that might work out better than the ways we were told or taught.
Healthy archetypes see both sides of themselves. Healthy archetypes know there is a good way to respond or do something and there is a bad way. Healthy archetypes empower us to choose wisely. Healthy archetypes give us a feeling of power and control, but also peace and serenity because healthy archetypes know when to not use power to control others or their environment, which is most of the time. Healthy archetypes, even in the most challenging and adverse conditions, help us do the hardest things. So this is no small stuff super hero and other strong movies do for us.
Super Heroes (aka Archetypes) also help us grow mental immunity to thought control efforts and mind control conditioning that you will soon see through Joosts work surrounds us every moment of every day. We are constantly submitted to the social pressures of the Public-Opinion Engineers as well as a host of other mind control tactics.
The reverse is also true of archetypes. Unhealthy archetypes have lost sight of one side of themselves. Unhealthy archetypes are one sided and inflexible. Unhealthy archetypes can hijack our minds and make us respond to circumstances in our life in lopsided, rigid, and inflexible ways. Unhealthy archetypes are stealth and sneaky. Unhealthy archetypes are lopsided and want to remain lopsided. Unhealthy archetypes can take over your life and rule you and you won’t even know it because unhealthy archetypes work night and day to keep your conscious mind in the dark or in a very little box.
I saw 3,000 Years of Longing recently that does a pretty good job showing you what unhealthy archetypes can do to you.
In this movie the main character Alithea Binnie is a British narratology scholar who occasionally hallucinatesdemonic beings. Despite being a story researcher, she is an incredibly rational person.
The movie begins with her saying: “My name is Alithea. My story is true. You’re more likely to believe me if I tell you it’s a fairy tale.” She is flying to a conference in Istanbul about storytelling and even though she is telling the audience that we have science to tell us how everything works and we really don’t need stories any more, the following happens:
Alithea is one of the speakers at the conference, where she says that stories about mythical gods have been a part of human history for ages. (In the background on the conference stage is a collage portrait of comic book superheroes, to illustrate her point.) During her speech, Alithea sees in the audience a vision of ghost-like elderly man wearing all white in an ancient royal outfit, including a crown.
Review: ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing,’ starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton -- August 28, 2022 by Carla Hay
No matter what she does to try to make the White Demon go away, he appears closer and closer until she passes out with fear.
And she hasn’t even met the Djinn yet! This story-movie hints at another thing mythic stories do for us. They help us digest and deal with anxiety and stress of daily living. In fact, they provide an outlet for it as well as for other strong feelings that are hard get rid of or express in modern society such as anger, disappointment, despair, longing, fear, frustration, anguish, disgust… the icky stuff that’s not polite to show or discuss in civil society but the stuff we all feel and experience in life.
Perhaps mythic movies actually give us an outlet for this pent up energy, help us balance our psyche, which helps us feel less anxiety, less frustration, and a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
Archetype Are Echoes
Archetypes are echoes, they are the memory of every alteration ever made by consciousness through space and time. When confronted with a similar situation, archetypes jump into action riding up alongside instinctual responses and giving us instantaneously knowledge of ways to alter our response consciously.
However, when we don’t exercise our mind with curiosity, learning, and imagination, archetypes fall into our unconsciousness and we may pick a bad response due to our failure to remain fully conscious of all our options.
Myths and stories are filled with archetypal characters that convey information about all our options in converting the energy of archetypes into action. Heroes, super heroes, tricksters, wise old men, wise old women, and villians of every story portray what happens when people see both sides of their archetype, when people become unconscious of their archetype, and when people lose sight of one side of their archetype being called into action and act in a lopsided way.
The characters of myths and stories are essentially showing us how the energy running through us all the time can improve our lives or make it worse. When we find ourselves in similar situations our mythic heroes and villians are living out their story arch inside us.
Myths and stories help us recognize, develop, and mature these strong energies that as feelings, emotions, and other mental forces that can knock us sideways if we don’t pay attention or take care.
Myths and stories help us recognize ourselves and give us examples of how to integrate these unconscious aspects of ourselves. All good myths and stories provide templates, examples of bad ways of dealing with these energies (the villians) and good ways of channelling and dealing with these energies (the heroes).
Archetypes are mirror images of instincts but they have been changed by conscious choices. Archetypes provide human beings with images of the spectrum of consequences for how primal instinctual energies are changed by conscious choices. And as you have probably guessed by now, some choices are destructive and produce destructive outcomes, other choices are creative or compassionate and produce generative outcomes.
This sort of knowledge is power. It is a power our ancestors understood very well.
Archetypes echo the vibrant reflections of our innate, instinctual behaviors.
Perhaps if we modern humans understood the power of archetypes, we could better navigate our outer spaces (the place where you and I can meet) and inner spaces (the place where you talk to yourself…we call it thinking).
Perhaps if we really understood archetypes, we could play them like a lute… or perhaps they play us, but we might know when they are playing us and be better prepared for the consequences.
Joost Merloo, Rape of the Mind and the Role of Public-Opinion Engineers
This is the stuff A.M. Merloo, M.D., writes about in his book the Rape of the Mind. This nebulous space we call mind. A space we take for granted that we all just naturally do, but do we really know what we are doing inside our heads or have we been conditioned to think we know what we are doing, but the thoughts, ideas, and behaviors have been planted their by the Public-Opinion Engineers! They are the professionals who herd us like cows and get us to believe, act, and buy the things they want us to think, do, and buy… their stuff.
In the first half of his book, Merloo goes into great detail about how autocrats, tyrants, dictators, despots, and fascists control people’s minds. These are brutal people who employ brutal tactics. These are people and regimes that have an overarching need to control other people and imposing their way of thinking on them… much like the narcissist. They use overt, cruel tactics of thought control.
The second half of his book deals with the subtle uses of thought control. This is the part I am covering here. Subtle thought control is a tool that serves the banker, the baker, and candlestick maker. Basically, if you run a business, you need to get inside the minds of possible customers. But some businesses are much more nefarious about this.
Subtle thought control is a given element of modern economics, especially capitalistic economics that have practically become an incubator for narcissists.
A.M. Merloo wrote his book in 1956 but it sure sounds like 2023. I introduce Merloo in this blog.
The conviction is steadily growing in our country that an elaborate propaganda campaign for either a political idea or a deep-freeze(r) can be successful in selling the public any idea or object one wants them to buy, any political figure one wants them to elect. Recently, some of our election campaigns have been masterminded by the so-called public-opinion engineers, who have used all the techniques of modern mass communication and all the contemporary knowledge of the human mind to persuade Americans to vote for the candidate who is paying the public-relation men's salaries. The danger of such high-pressure advertising is that the man or the party who can pay the most can become, temporarily at least, the one who can influence the people to buy or to vote for what may not be in their real interest. -- Page 67 -- The Rape of the Mind, A. M. Meerloo, M.D.
This first paragraph cannot be emphasized enough. I’m not even going to try. Rather, I’ll try to articulate it with an image.
The specialists in the art of persuasion and the moulding of public sentiment may try to knead man's mental dough with all the tools of communication available to them: pamphlets, speeches, posters, billboards, radio programs, and T.V. shows. They may water down the spontaneity and creativity of thoughts and ideas into sterile and streamlined clichés that direct our thoughts even although we still have the illusion of being original and individual.
The effects of persuasion wear down our resistance to it (such as watering down the stories we tell with Super Sweet Super Heroes). Persuasion also turns us into automatic humans, pretty much robots who do what the Big Guy wants them to do. The Big Guy is usually the Biggest Narc in control of the group who has succumb to the persuasion put out by that Narc’s Public-Opinion Engineers. Here are two examples:
Watered Down Archetypes
Marvel is essentially watering down their super heroes (or sweeting them up too much) by making them transactional characters. That is to say that purpose of the Marvel character is to sell a pre-packaged storyline that follows a movie arch that has already made billions, not to tell a good story. As movies and entertainment become more mainstream, more collective, the archetypal characters we see are super watered down, not super heroes. The more we see every character following the same pre-packaged theme, the faster they turn into sterile clichés, rather than ambassadors of powerful inner forces influencing us every moment of every day.
As modern man loses recognition and contact with his inner archetypes, he essential cedes his own conscious awareness to going with the flow of the slow, steady drizzle of mediocrity demanded by Modern life. Doing what you are told slowly becomes the gold standard of being a man, even if it means becoming the standardized mediocre bloke everyone has told him he is from the day he was born.
What we call the will of the people, or the will of the masses, we only get to know after such collective action is put on the move, after the will of the people has been expressed either at the polls or in fury and rebellion. This indicates again how important it is who directs the tools and machines of public opinion.
Julia Angwin brings up the example of the man who broke into Nancy Pelosi’s home and attacked her husband with a hammer. As the police were taking him away, he proclaimed that he didn’t want to do this but he had to because the dangerous liberal democrats and seizing so much control. He saw himself as a warrior in an existential crises that demanded violence… yes, violence! We should be alarmed and jump out of our arm chairs knowing someone thinks their own fellow citizens are eating babies and want to kill them, so they will kill the liberal democrats first!
The Public-Opinion Engineers — Continued
Trust is the most essential ingredient for a civil society. When trust breaks down, polarization reigns in society. Where polarization and lack of trust in each other reigns, individuals become very vulnerable to the work of the Public-Opinion Engineers.
In the wake of such advertising and engineering of consent, the citizen's trust in his leaders may become shaken and the populace may gradually grow more and more accustomed to official deceit. Finally, when people no longer have confidence in any program, any position, and when they are unable to form intelligent judgments any more, they can be more easily influenced by any demagogue or would-be dictator, whose strength appeals to their confusion and their growing sense of dissatisfaction. Perhaps the worst aspect of this slick merchandising of ideas is that too often even those who buy the experts, and even the opinion experts themselves, are unaware of what they are doing. They too are swayed by the current catchword "management of public opinion," and they cannot judge any more the tools they have hired. The end never justifies the means; enough steps on this road can lead us gradually to Totalitaria. -- The Rape of the Mind, p. 67
Even in Joost’s time in the 1950s, the adverse and negative effects of Public-Opinion Engineers was very apparent.
At this very moment in our country, an elaborate research into motivation is going on, whose object is to find out why and what the buyer likes to buy. What makes him tick? The aim is to bypass the resistance barriers of the buying public. It is part of our paradoxical cultural philosophy to stimulate human needs and to stimulate the wants of the people. Commercialized psychological understanding wants to sell to the public, to the potential buyer, many more products than he really wants to buy. In order to do this, rather infantile impulses have to be awakened, such as sibling rivalry and neighbour envy, the need to have more and more sweets, the glamour of colors, and the need for more and more luxuries.
Even then, the very people we were told to go to for help with our mental health were not always helping to liberate us from the tentacleof the Public-Opinion Engineers.
The commercial psychologist teaches the seller how to avoid unpleasant associations in his advertising, how to stimulate, unobtrusively, sex associations, how to make everything look simple and happy and successful and secure! He teaches the shops how to boost the buyer's ego, how to flatter the customer.
Once the Public-Opinion Engineers make it inside our minds, we grow dangerously close to becoming the Automan. This is the most ideal mental state for an ordinary citizen in a society ruled by narcissists to exist in.
The marketing engineers have discovered that our public wants the suggestion of strength and virility in their product. A car must have more horse-power in order to balance feelings of inner weakness in the owner. A car must represent one's social status and reputation, because without such a flag man feels empty. Advertising agencies dream of "universitas advertensis," the world of glittering sham ideas, the glorification of "menus vult decipi," the intensification of snob appeal, the expression of vulgar conspicuousness, and all this in order to push more sales into the greedy mouths of buying babies. In our world of advertising, artificial needs are invented by sedulous sellers and buyers. Here lies the threat of building up a sham world that can have a dangerous influence on our world of ideas.
A society increasingly populated by Automen and Autowomen is a hard and sharp society. Lots of people suffer in such a society, including the Automen but they are taught to blame their misfortunes on others and never to take responsibility for their own choices.
This situation emphasizes the neurotic greed of the public, the need to indulge in private fancies at the cost of an awareness of real values. The public becomes conditioned to meretricious values. Of course, a free public gradually finds its defences against slogans, but dishonesty and mistrust slip through the barriers of our consciousness and leave behind a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. After all, advertising symbolizes the art of making people dissatisfied with what they have. In the meantime it is evident man sustains a continual sneak attack on his better judgment.
Joost is right, the Modern Age is like a tsunami of Public-Opinion Engineers paid by Narcissists who are working hard to wear us down into an army of Automen and Autowomen carefully conditioned to power the economy that provides the luxurious lifestyles the people at the very top of our pyramid structured systems enjoy.
In our epoch of too many noises and many frustrations, many "free" minds have given up the struggle for decency and individuality. They surrender to the "Zeitgeist," often without being aware of it. Public opinion moulds our critical thoughts every day. Unknowingly, we may become opinionated robots. The slow coercion of hypocrisy, of traditions in our culture that have a levelling effect -- these things change us. We crave excitement, hair-raising stories, sensation. We search for situations that create superficial fear to cover up inner anxieties. We like to escape into the irrational because we dislike the challenge of self-study and self-thinking. Our leisure time is occupied increasingly by automatized activities in which we take no part: listening to piped-in words and viewing television screens. We hurry along with cars and go to bed with a sleeping pill. This pattern of living in turn may open the way for renewed sneak attacks on our mind. Our boredom may welcome any seductive suggestion.
The Rape of the Mind explores the Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing. Published in 1956 and written by Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., Instructor in Psychiatry, Columbia University Lecturer in Social Psychology, New School for Social Research, Former Chief, Psychological Department, Netherlands Forces.
This is the first blog in a series discussing the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
After watching Morbius, I felt flat and bloated like I had just downed a Family Sized Package of Cheetos too fast.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Morbius’ origin story!
The movie is well acted, well executed, and has superb special effects… just as we have come to expect from a Marvelous Marvel Movie… or should I say, just as we have been conditioned to expect?
Perhaps that’s it, Marvel Movies are entirely predictable. In the past 20 some years, they have become perfectly formulated to meet popular tastes. Because of this, we know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to expect it.
Marvel Movies run on well worn tracks of success. Yes, a few have been busts, but on average, Marvel Movies make $715 million dollars per movie with at least half of this gross-income, which means it goes right into the pockets of Robert Iger, CEO, and the Disney-Marvel Cinematic Universe. This has been the case since 2009 when Disney brought Marvel Cinematic Universe from Ronald Perelman who formerly use to pocket the bucks.
The Marvelous Marvel formula has evolved to include hooks and lures about how each newly rendered Marvel character retrieved from the Marvel vault and brought to life on screen will met up and team up with other recently revived Marvel characters for the next Marvelous Marvel movie.
Heck, soon the different Disney universes and their characters might begin meeting up with Marvel, or ever perhaps as, Marvel characters to fight off the bad guys.
Perhaps like this super cool new chic: Tinker Bell Die Hard Predator Ape?
Hell YEAH… this might actually BE interesting!
Marvel Characters Are Archetypes
We adore Marvel characters because they are archetypes. They speak to things deep inside of all of us: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Stuff that is really, really hard to speak to each other about in our overly average, highly regimented, very repetitive work, work, and more work worlds.
Mostly we don’t talk to each other about this stuff. It is so much safer (and let’s face it, it is so much easier) to be superficial with each other.
That’s what the movies are made for! Right?!
Movies give us an emotional release and a little freedom from all that stuff pent up and building up inside of us. The stuff we don’t or can’t talk to each other about, at least not on the deepest levels where our wounds usually lay. These are deep interior layers that we can seldom reach without self-expression that can lead to self-realization, if we allow it.
This is what archetypes partly do for us. They help illuminate things inside of us that are vague, mysterious, troubling, or even exhilarating. But things that are hard to put our finger on because they are inside of us and we can’t see them with our eyes. We can only feel them or try not to feel them when they bother us too much.
Archetypes are mental models that give shape and perspective on the shadowy, nebulous, unsettling, fuzzy states and feelings that can overtake us. They do a lot more than this, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to how archetypes provide man with mental models on how to handle and act to feelings rising inside of him and all around him in other people.
Ever since Marvel’s founding in 1939 by Martin Goodman, which was then known as Timely Comics, the characters have been giving shape to man’s collective shadowy feelings and showing us possibilities on how to channel and handle our dim, indistinct inner worlds in our shared outer world.
In 1951, Timely Comics became known as Atlas Comics. It is not until June 1961 that it transforms into the franchise we know it today as Marvel with the launch of The Fantastic Four.
Ever since its beginning, Marvel characters were created to meet a moment. They emerged from the fabric of that time and in the spaces of what was happening in the country or world at that moment. Their creators invented characters who could met the demands and uncertainty of the times in which they were created.
I am sure each creator imbued their characters with the super powers everyone needed at that moment to survive mental through the demands, threats, and catastrophes of the times. That is what archetypes do. They provide strong mental images combined with stories that imbue inspiration, hope, and courage into the hearts and minds of real people who need to meet real life challenges as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
CharacterDate Created Creator(s)
Sub-Mariner | 1939 (Build up to WII)| Bill Everett
Human Torch | 1939 (Build up toWWII) | Carl Burgos
Angel | 1939 (Build up to WWII) | Paul Gustavson
Masked Raider | 1939 (WWII & shifting economics) | Al Anders
Phantom Reporter | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics)| Robert O. Erisman, Sam Cooper
Black Widow | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics such as women working to build war machines and bombs) | George Kapitan, Harry Gahle
Vision | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Captain America | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Black Marvel | 1941 (Intensification of WWII) | Al Gabriele
Uranian Boy | 1950 (First atomic bomb drop 1945) | Stan Lee, Russ Heath
The Fantastic Four | 1961 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
The Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Red She Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Thor | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Spider-Man | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Steve this time)| Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Iron Man | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck
Doctor Strange | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962) | Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Black Panther | 1966 (Civil Rights Act sign 1965) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
-- See full timeline at Wiki
I think you get the idea.
So, What’s Wrong With A Little Marvel Time?!
There is nothing wrong with a little Marvel time.
The issue is much more subtle and pervasive than that. It is not so much that we go to the movies to watch great, big, spectacular dramas that take our minds off our worries or give us a joyful jolt of non-reality.
The issue is rather what we are not seeing when we go to the movies, especially the really BIG blockbuster ones that are highly formulated and super monetized to capture our time and attention.
These blockbuster cash cows act like somewhat steamrollers crushing the competition and funneling more and more money into the pockets of billionaires who own mega conglomerates that control the content and production of multiple franchises and merchandise.
And guess what the mega billionaires want you to do?
They want you to go to see more of their movies and buy more of their merchandise so they make more money.
And we do exactly that… and each time we do, they grow even bigger!
If you’re wondering why Marvel movies all look alike, it’s because of us. It is the way we are choosing to consume them.
I recently learned more about this from Terry Gross’ interview with Lucas Shaw, who is in charge of Media and Entertainment at Bloomberg and writes the Screentime newsletter. He’s the one who made me aware of how much content Disney owns!
But there are a lot of other big Media-Entertainment Titans operating out there too and all of them want to get inside our heads and tickle away some our money that we make working highly automated jobs that require at least 8 hours of our days, 5 days a week.
Sadly, despite popular opinions, most of us do not work in our Dream Jobs! Indeed, most of us must go through the motions 8 hours days doing very boring, tedious, monotonous work. So who wouldn’t want to break free and escape into a Marvelous Marvel movie when it comes out?
But that might be exactly what the super rich want us to feel and react. They can make money from lots of bored people who need to escape from their dreary, mind-numbing, mechanical lives with a Fantastic New Movie!
And, hey wait, you can also escape and feel just like the movie characters feel by buying this splashy new watch or this brand new fancy car or this mouthwatering, very pricey dress. And of course you need the latest technology to go along with all this! You want to look modern don’t you?
All these fancy, enjoyable costly things are there to help you escape from your boredom and ease your burden of living highly repetitive, unvarying, humdrum modern lives.
Lucas Shaw tells Terry Gross how the movie-TV-streaming business is becoming one super long ad promoting consumerism, capitalism, and merchandising by the new Titans of Industry.
SHAW: You know, Barry Diller, I feel like, has been declaring the death of Hollywood for a long time now, so I do take what he says with a little grain of salt. But he's right that the growth of Amazon and Apple, which I would say are now two of the six major studios in town - you know, they've replaced some of the other ones that have been consolidated in the deals that we've talked about - entertainment is not their primary business. And it speaks to maybe the lesser value of traditional film and television in broader culture, where it - so does the fact that YouTube is now bigger than any TV network, that if you - that TikTok is as popular as any streaming service.
You know, film and TV doesn't have the same stranglehold on culture and on youth that it used to. And it's - if I were running one of these traditional media and entertainment companies - running Warner Bros. Discovery, running Disney - it would certainly scare me that two of our biggest competitors don't care about making money from film and TV in the same way because it means that the stakes are lower. The approach is going to be different. And entertainment is just a means of selling something else - in Amazon's case, you know, diapers or books or whatever it is; in Apple's case, phones and other devices. -- FreshAir, July 20, 2023
So my take away from this conversation is that the purpose of movies, TV shows, and streaming platforms are increasingly veering towards a focus on how to keep viewing audiences glued to a particular station-conglomerate, so it can make more money–be that ads, subscriptions, or the super cool merchandise they make, create, and sell.
The Hollowing Out Effect of Money
This hyper-focus on making more money is a major force in hollowing out many Marvel characters. You can read about the reasons why 16 actors are talking about quitting or leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe here.
The Marvel universe seems to be becoming more one-dimensional and cartoonish as the focus on making another blockbuster and capturing the vast majority of the market take precedence over story. This focus on money has a watering down effect on the characters, making them feel less real, less vibrant, and less inspiring.
They are losing their numinosity, which is what archetypes hold for us. Numinous content gives our lives meaning, content, and purpose. Without numinosity in our lives, we feel drab, automatic, and mechanical.
But maybe the mechanization of man is one of the very objectives these new Titans of Industry seek to create inside of us.
If we are continually feeling unimportant, unremarkable, and unnecessary in keeping the clogs of industry running in the world, then we need to compensate for our super small roles in society.
How else can we wake up each morning and go out to do our boring, repetitive jobs?
So a good Marvel Movie is a great antidote to not feeling like a machine!
But, don’t get too caught up in the marvelousness of a Marvel movie! That would be going too far in our highly mechanized modern world.
If you do happen to believe Marvel characters are real and you look up to them and draw hope and courage from then (like any good archetype should do), then you will get laughed at because we are not really suppose to identify with them anymore. They are simply entertainment.
We watch them, then we get up the next day and go back to work to make some money so we can go watch the next amazing Marvel movie coming out soon because there was that little teaser at the end!
Another troubling result of the Marvelizationof Man is that Marvel movies are impacting how other movies are made or even more importantly, NOT BEING MADE.
With great big, super blockbusters with BIG special effects (like Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar), more and more people only go to theaters to see these on the silver screen. They don’t show up for the “other movies” being made and trying to survive in an increasingly one-dimensional entertainment universe.
Basically, every studio wants a piece of the action in this “shared universe” business.
But it’s hard to argue that any of them have been as successful as Marvel has.
This effect is drying up the field of creativity for the creation, production, and life of other types of movies that deal with difficult but really important stuff such as Women Talking:
The women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Though the backstory, we see a community of women come together to figure out how they might move forward together to build a better world for themselves and their children. Stay and fight or leave. They will not do nothing.— Official synopsis
Or like the Fabelmans:
Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
It is lpLoosely based on Spielberg's childhood growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, from age seven to eighteen, a young man named Sammy Fabelman discovers a shattering family secret, and explores how the power of movies help us see the truth about each other and ourselves. —Toronto International Film Festival
He also encounters antisemitism and bullying, which is a very important issue that deserves far more airtime in our current culture and polictical climate.
Or going back even further to the time of radio like Suspense: Report From A Dead Planet
Another thing that struck me while watching Morbius is that really talented actors are playing pretty superficial, very simplified characters.
Matt Smith for example is the villain in Morbius. He is great as the villain, but his performance leaves me feeling empty. He is a really talented actor! Why don’t I feel more from his performance in Morbius?
Because I’m not supposed to?!
His super villain in Morbius is pretty vanilla compared to his roles in Season 1 and 2 of The Crown, The Last Night in Soho, and my all time favorite The Doctor of Doctor Who.
Also, Jared Leto who plays Morbius struck me as a super talented actor as well. I haven’t seen him before. He does a great job playing Morbius. In fact, he imbue more life into Morbius than the role allows.
Tarantino previously said that he would not want to direct a movie for Marvel Studios for the simple reason he is “not a hired hand.’ As someone planning to direct just ten movies in his career, and with only one of those to make up the number, it is probably not surprising that the Pulp Fiction helmer would want to concentrate on his own ideas. When it comes to the MCU, the director says that the franchise does not contain any “movie stars” as the characters are all people want to see. He said:
“Part of the Marvel-ization of Hollywood is… you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters, but they’re not movie stars. Right? Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times, you know, but it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become a star.” -- Quentin Tarantino Says Marvel Actors Are 'Not Movie Stars'
PUBLISHED NOV 22, 2022
Quentin Tarantino has been vocal about his feelings regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it looks like he isn't quite done yet.
I will still watch Marvel movies.
But I will seek out and watch more different movies that leave an impression in my psyche and make me think about the world in ways I might not have before.
I will continue to gravitate to movies where BIG ideas are explored rather than BIG action but increasingly hallow characters dance across the screen.
I want something that satisfies my imagination and feeds my psyche, because feeling alive and not like small cog in a BIG machine is important to me, and only I can change my perspective and the way I feel about things.
Stories and movies feed my imagination so I can feed and grow my soul.
Stay tuned for this series because I am going to go deeper into the effects and impacts of living in our super consumerism society on man’s mind.
For now, maybe the Oppenheimer-Barbie movies will provide a reprieve from the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
I made all images with Genolve using AI generated images, specifically Midjourney, this time. So I am just listing the songs used in the above animations.
Feature Archetypal Animation: Nowhere but Up |  Break the Chain 4:53