Propaganda – Persuasive Techniques

Arundhati Roy and Michael Moore are two very skilful propagandists who use powerful and persuasive techniques to convey a particular message. These techniques are deliberately used to appeal to us, the audience, and our appetites, our sense of fear and above all our vanity. These techniques used in “The end of imagination” (Arundhati Roy) and “Fahrenheit 9/11” (Michael Moore) will be examined to consider how effective these propagandists are at appealing to these internal persuaders.

Roys essay “The end of imagination” focused on nuclear warfare, her main argument was that the Indian government and all world governments must not be involved in the production or testing of nuclear bombs as they are simply to destructive and harmful to all of creation. Moore’s film focused on the presidency of George W. Bush, the Iraq war and its coverage by the American media, his main argument was that American corporate media did not provide an objective and accurate analysis concerning the invasion of Iraq, and that George Bush was, at the time an inept president.

The most important weapon in a propagandist’s arsenal is the ability to draw emotion from a reader or viewer, along with the ability to control and direct that emotion so that the audience believe what is being presented, without doubting whether or not, it is accurate. There are many emotions that can be provoked by a propagandist however the strongest is by far fear. Fear tactics are used by both Roy and Moore very effectively, the title of Roy’s essay itself is an example (The end of imagination). Roy writes in the opening sentence “May 1998.

It’ll go down in history books, provided of course we have history books to go down in. “Provided, of course, we have a future. ” This is a prime example of fear tactics being used to consume the audience in a sense of uncertainty for the future, however this is not the only technique at use here, exaggeration is also present. Exaggeration is used either to emphasize facts and figures or in this case to try and convince the audience that the situation is worse than it actually is, stirring the audience so that they become fearful.

Moore also uses exaggeration however in a somewhat different way. He uses exaggeration to portray George W Bush as almost always being on holidays after the 9/11 attacks, this technique is deliberately misleading as Bush did not spend as much time on holiday as the audience is made to believe. Moore also uses fear tactics like Roy suggesting that the US Government is able to spy on American Citizens. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant because it makes people question their right of privacy and may create a sense of panic, ultimately appealing to the audience’s sense of fear.

Humour is also a very useful tool in a propagandist’s toolbox of techniques. There are many different ways to persuade the audience, but one in which Moore does very effectively is by asking rhetorical questions for example “what was he thinking? ” and “did we really elect this guy president? ” This technique is effective because the audience may feel more inclined to agree with a presenter who makes them laugh and is confident about what they are saying than a presenter who just recites facts.

People enjoy laughing and because of that have a thirst for laughter a skilful propagandist realises this and uses humour to appeal to their audience’s appetites. Another powerful and also humorous technique is the use of sarcasm. Moore says “The president did what any of us would do, he went on holiday? ” Sarcasm is frequently used by Moore, questioning Bush’s intelligence and portraying Bush as failing as a president. Roy chose not to use humour in “The end of imagination” though it is clear that Roy feels very strongly about nuclear weapons and it is evident in the techniques she employs when writing.

She writes with a lot of emotion, using a lot of emotive language “The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made. ” Here Roy uses raw emotion to appeal to the audience’s appetite. People hunger for knowledge, more importantly the truth. Both Roy and Moore use that knowledge and feed the audiences appetites by telling the truth. One very cunning persuasive technique is the use of selective reporting. Throughout Roy’s entire essay, she wrote only about her viewpoint, not providing opposing views or perspectives therefore leaving no room for discussion or argument.

This technique is used, bombarding the audience with just one side of the story and therefore convinces the audience to believe that the issue is black and white and the presenters view is correct and justified. In contrast to Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” reports only one side of the story as if to brainwash the audience. Inclusive language is used frequently by Roy, she uses words like “our” and “we” so that the audience feels comfortable and included in the essay, this technique is used to appeal to our vanity. Another technique used by Moore is the assassination of George W.

Bush’s character. On countless occasions Moore would use repetition of key words and phrases e. g. “I’m a war president”, “Sadam”, “Al Qaeda”, , “Nuclear weapon”, “He’s got them! ” to diminish the intelligence of Bush. Moore also point out flaws in Bush’s administration and almost any mistake that he could find, giving examples of where Bush contradicted himself and often made a fool out of himself. Attacks on his opponents and Character Assassination were two of Moore’s most effective techniques, used to persuade viewers that he was undoubtedly and irrefutably correct.

Roy on the other hand did not have one person to target. Her target was the Indian and world Governments. Roy appealed to all audiences in her closing statement by saying “If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is Man’s challenge to God. It’s worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that you have created. If you’re not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is four thousand, six hundred million years old. It could end in an afternoon. ” This technique appeals to all demographics as it outlines the sheer magnitude of the issue being presented.

Roy portrays that the offender is nuclear bombs and the victim is the world. This technique directly appeals to our sense of fear and vanity as everyone likes to feel confident and comfortable and that vanity that we have is at stake. Arundhati Roy and Michael Moore are two presenters that have been given the title of propagandists. A propagandist attempts to manipulate the way their audience thinks to persuade them to believe what is being presented. Various techniques can be employed to do this however the most effective are those that appeal to the viewer’s appetites, fears and vanity.

Roy and especially Moore have the resources needed to present certain information that appeal to our appetites. Skilled propagandists possess the ability to encourage and stir various emotions and use that emotion to create a sense of uncertainty appealing to our perception of fear. Lastly Arundhati Roy and Michael Moore utilize writing and presenting techniques to constrict our comfort and conflict the audiences pride appealing to the greatest internal persuader of all, our vanity.