First Tuesday Film for April – A Review


First Tuesday Film for April 2: The Brainwashing of My Dad



On Tuesday, April 2nd, the First Tuesday Films and DPJC will, once again, join forces to show us a great film focused on current social justice issues. This time we will be viewing The Brainwashing of My Dad, a film created by Jen Senko. She began this film after observing her father go from a reasonable, open-minded individual to one filled with hatred and anger after tuning in to the Fox News network and listening to pundits such as Rush Limbaugh on his long commutes for work. She wondered if he was being brainwashed by the Alt Right commentary and pursued this line of questioning.

Ms. Jenko takes us on a journey to discover the origins of the propaganda machine through interviews with former members of the movement, experts in the field of communications, neuroscientists and people who have become estranged from family exhibiting the same personality changes.

She winds her way through the maze of false truths and the origin of the Fox network, a brainchild of Rupert Murdoch, who appoints Roger Ailes as CEO. It is Ailes who expertly transforms just another news network into a spin of never-ending obfuscation of facts and leads millions into the culture of anger addiction. Ailes manipulated the white male ego into believing everything wrong with this world stems from the actions of the liberal talk machine and the movements brought about in the ’60s counter culture.

While she brings us back to the start with the John Birch Society in 1958 and the beginnings of the Red Scare, she does not go back to the true start of propaganda. This term was coined in the late 1920’s when Edward Louis Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, wrote the book Propaganda. As a result he became known as the father of public relations. This book laid the groundwork for the propaganda of WWII, and Joseph Goebbels used the techniques as a gifted public speaker to further the cause of Hitler. Certainly, Goebbels’ influence has been brought forward to be used in the rhetoric of today’s Alt Right movement.

It is his original voice we often hear when Fox commentators reference despising those who are not male and white.

One of the most important points to come out in this film is that there are two kinds of brainwashing. One is the kind that is forced and often takes place in dark hidden recesses away from the public. The other is far more insidious and has become part of the current culture. This type of brainwashing is called “stealth” or “filtered.”  Stealth brainwashing takes place right before our eyes and seeks to divide people into “us” and “them.” Those who feed their brains only on Fox news and other ultra conservative diets become victims of this mindset and, once indoctrinated, it is virtually impossible to talk any sense into them. You may present them with the facts, but facts don’t matter. What you tell them may make perfect sense; however, if it doesn’t support what they are being told by their favorite Fox commentators they won’t believe you.

The film ends on a happy note. After finding ways to subtly change her father’s environment he finds his way back to the right path. If this experiment tells us anything it’s that those who consistently watch Fox News are, indeed, being brainwashed. Since this is the network is often shown on televisions in public areas such as restaurants, hospitals and clinics it becomes obvious we are all being subjected to propaganda that is intended to draw us away from truth and objectivity.

This is not simply a battle to understand why our loved ones suddenly change into strange creatures of hate. This is a battle for our own minds, and it is a battle to save those we care for.

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