In this month’s episode, Pearse is joined by Spike Robinson to launch a new series, “Undue Influence in Pop Culture,” where they plan to examine various popular movies, television series and books through the lens of undue influence and coercive control. This month, they compare and contrast two episodes of classic Star Trek: “Return of the Archons” and “A Taste of Armageddon.”
“Return of the Archons” is a classic example of how Hollywood portrays thought control or “brainwashing”, with a population of blissed-out automatons, only breaking out of tranquility for their purge-like Festival – a society completely under the control of a supercomputer, which was programmed six thousand years ago by the “savior” of their race, Landru. The people are glassy eyed and speaking in a strange, stylized sort of language, with no autonomy or independent thought.
However, it is in “Taste of Armageddon” that the real face of cultural coercion can be seen – for two planets fighting a mechanized, computer-calculated war, their cultures have become so tightly controlled that otherwise sane, rational people – people who talk normally and even persuasively about their “system” are so under the influence of their leaders that they will “willingly” step into vaporization booths, rather than face the indoctrinated phobia of what might happen to their world if they do not comply.
Using these two episodes as a starting point, Spike and Pearse discuss what mind control is, what it isn’t, and how our popular culture informs our opinions on this highly complex subject.
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What do you think about this podcast? Do you agree? Do you have example of undue influence in popular culture that you’d like to see us discuss? We’d love to hear from you!