“The business of a journalist now is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, fall at the feet of Mammon and sell himself for his daily bread. We are tools, vessels of rich men behind the scenes, we are jumping jacks. They pull the strings; we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are the properties of these men.”- John Swinton, New York Times, 1883.
The ICS fail to accurately portray anything that is ‘truth’ in The Running Man. Richards gets duped on three separate occasions. Even his own death which in the end gives Richards checkmate over Killian and the ICS is faked. Up until then the ICS plays instead the subservient role of propaganda machine for its own interests. Throughout the movie the ICS resorts to propaganda in the form of but not limited to bandwagon, ad nauseam, black and white fallacy, appeal to fear and finally the big lie.
There are many more such examples that will be detailed later in the book. But each example reflects what we see when we watch The Running Man all the more real. Let us take a look at how those statements run parallel with the film. Bandwagon- to persuade your target audience to join in and take the course of action that everyone else is taking. Clearly the audience members of the show are all as one, everyone wants the stalkers to kill Richards and his friends. Ad nauseam- an idea that is repeated enough times as to be taken for its merit and worth. That Richards is a killer, that Killian is a type of demi-god to his fans, the government projecting their ideals every minute of the day on huge televisions to drive their point home. Black and white fallacy- To put it bluntly ‘You are either with us, or you are with the enemy.’ A clear message of threat and intent to destabilize the population. Appeal to fear- the media inject fear and anxiety into the population simply through their words and the power of print. Throughout the movie people are told about their curfews, about being in 'good standing', this is the small end of such an example. A much larger example would be that supplies of food are limited and will be rationed. As seen in the Bakersfield massacre where originally Richards and his team are surveying the crowds down below who are queuing up for food. It is fair to say that this totalitarian government have simply fabricated the food shortage story to create mass panic and therefore divert people’s attention whilst they plan their next move.
In any case and away from the movies, appeal to fear is seen in everyday life throughout the world on a daily basis. The big lie. Richard Belzer the comedian once said of its meaning: “If you tell a lie that's big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap.” The question that then remains is, why do the media – conventionally believed to be critical of the establishment - behave in a way that conforms to the false picture presented by the government and corporate elite of their own policies? The answer is simple: in a nutshell, the mass media is the establishment.
This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book - The Running Man: The power of the mass media in the 21st Century. Author David Bronstein.