analyzing propaganda for stress relief

“Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)”

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?

Emotional Hyperbole. This primes you to be receptive to take the rest of the lyrics without thinking. It is a very good manipulation technique. It also allows the singer to link unrelated things later to the 9/11 tragedy.

Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?

An appeal to both the “elite” and the “common man.” In other words, the singer is appealing emotionally to people of any class, and saying we are all this together.

Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin’ against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

First painting a very stark visual in order to get people to respond viscerally, then telling them that the only two options are anger or shutting down. It is subtle way of stirring anger which will later be directed at a target.

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don’t know?

Insertion of prayer, because people are already programmed by churches to respond to that sentiment, also using the fact that children died to magnify the intensity of the emotional response of the intended target audience for the propaganda.

Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?

Furthering the list of victims that must be avenged.

Did you burst out with pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin’ what they do?

ah, yes that old stand by, “Remember the Alamo.” The fallen hero archetype in propaganda is common. Another is the Sinking of the RMS Lusitania. Also suggesting that we should have pride in the U.S. because we were attacked. A good way to encourage nationalistic sentiment.

Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

Tying together both the spiritual aspects and the familial aspects.

[Chorus:]

I’m just a singer of simple songs

“You can trust me.”

I’m not a real political man

“I’m not biased.”

I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell
You the difference in Iraq and Iran

and here finally is the point. directing the emotion that has been built up towards the intended targets, Iraq and Iran, because there is no difference between them and people like them (code for Muslims) are responsible even though neither of those countries had a single thing to do with 9/11.

But I know Jesus and I talk to God

“God is on our side” or as the Germans used to say Gott mit uns

And I remember this from when I was young

adding nostalgia to the mix.

Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Contrasting the “good” U.S. with the “evil” Iraq and Iran.

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?

Connecting us with innocence, family and contrasting that with the loneliness.

Did you feel guilty ’cause you’re a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?

Creating feelings of guilt to amplify emotions and allow the singer to shift the guilt to Iraq and Iran.

Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Once again using family and spirituality like these are traits solely reserved for our side.

Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?

Reinforcing the emotional trauma.

Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?

Telling us to come together.

Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?

Creating a martial tone.

Did you turn off that violent old movie you’re watchin’
And turn on “I Love Lucy” reruns?

nostalgia

Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?

tying together religion, community, and self-sacrifice

Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

More of the same.

[Chorus x2]

And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?

So yeah, this is pretty much a perfect specimen of propaganda…. and most people never even realize it.

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