Wednesday, November 12, 2014

PROPAGANDA REVIEW: "Deception of a Generation" (1985)

According to two guys from the 1980s, “Scooby Doo” and “He-Man” toys are actually tools of the devil. And by absolute blind luck, most of their assertions about the import of pop culture on children’s lives, astonishingly, was right on the money. 


For the first time ever, I’ve actually been won over by the arguments presented in a “PROPAGANDA REVIEW” offering. Sure, sure, the reasoning that Mr. Gary Greenwald and Phil Phillips put forth in the video may be wrong as wrong can get, but there’s no denying the accuracy of their central thesis: the pop cultural constructs of the day (this being, the toys, comics, cartoons and especially advertising of the 1980s) have led to Generation Y abandoning the core principles of Christianity for a new, consumerist religion as grown-ups.

Where Greenwald and Phillips go astray in “Deception of a Generation.” obviously, is their assertion that this abject immersion into unabashed consumer interests isn’t the result of deft marketing, but indeed the ungodly work of the Antichrist himself, who personally put occult messages in Care Bears to turn kids into homosexual heathens. Yes, taking the Billy Graham approach, these two evangelical crusaders were convinced that Satan himself had a hand in the pop culture offerings of the Reagan years, and “Deception of a Generation” is basically their one and a half hour expose on how occultism had co-opted youth consumer culture.

Ya’ll have heard of Gary Greenwald and Phil Phillips before, right? Greenwald is the founder of Eagle’s Nest Ministries, an evangelical media empire probably best known for a series of sermons in the early ‘80s railing against rock and roll backmasking. Phillips, conversely, is the penman behind a series of anti-pop culture Christian agitprop in the 80s, including such illustrious tomes as “Turmoil in the Toybox” and “Saturday Morning Mind Control.” Indeed, lofty things are to be expected when minds so great come a’ crashing together.

Ironically enough, the video begins with an ominous, occultish tone, with the silhouette of an eagle bathed in a spooky blue glow in pitch blackness, while mini-videos of Gary Greenwald revolve around the false idol like lunar satellites.

Greenwald, who looks just like Gabe Kaplan, tells us that in the past, he’s exposed marijuana, the New Age movement, Dungeons and Dragons and rock and roll music as insidious tools of Satan. Naturally, this segues into a clip from the “13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo,” featuring Vincent Price talking about “demon clouds” and “evil zones.”

And that’s our cue to trot out Phil Phillips, a fairly young looking dude with a blonde pompadour and teeth so big, it puts Gary Busey’s chompers to shame. He tells us that 80 percent of cartoons and 40 percent of toys (circa 1985, of course) deal with the occult. Greenwald hypothesizes that there’s a dark, demonic force behind this movement -- and no, it’s not the Satanic hand of shameless, big media mass marketers.

Cue another “Scooby Doo” clip, featuring a bunch of bumbling witches brewing a cauldron at Stonehenge. Phillips then said God told him to go on a 14-day fast and visit Toys 'R Us, which kick started his jihad against Mattel and Nelvana.

Continuing, he said the toys were just lifeless chunks of plastic, until the kid projects his or her imagination into said toy. Greenwald piggybacks on the statement, saying the increased amount of occult themes and imagery in cartoons has greatly influenced how children view themselves and externalize their actions through playthings.

“He-Man,” Phillips said, was the pioneer in occult-toons. He also tell us it was the first major cartoon to make waves through syndication instead of first-run networks. He then tells an amusing anecdote about a kid who rebuffs a radio preacher, telling the intangible evangelical that He-Man, not Jesus, is the true “Master of the Universe.”

The greatest trick Satan ever pulled was convincing the world he wasn't responsible for "Masters of the Universe" playsets. 

Naturally, this leads to Greenwald breaking out the Snake Mountain playset, complete with the little snake microphone thingy that he claims gives youngsters “occultic hero voices.” Of course, Greenwald has to give us an example of how the product works, so he starts muttering “I am Skeletor, I am a Master of the Universe” into it in what may very well be the funniest thing that’s ever happened in humanity.

Moving forward, Greenwald said “He-Man” is anti-Creationism and Phillips shows off some female action figures, telling us how “voluptuous” they are. Per Phillips, Man-E-Faces lets children know you can be a good guy while simultaneously being possessed by demonic spirits, which as we all know, is all kinds of unbiblical. And oh year -- He-Man comic books also let us know Skeletor is probably a Zen Buddhist or something, too.

Around the 24 minute mark of the video, Greenwald arrives at his central thesis: that kid-centered pop culture of the timeframe had the unmistakable agenda of turning children away from the Judeo-Christian god and the basic tenets of Christianity.

“The toys that they are buying in the toy stores, the comic books they read … [Phillips] has seen that [children] vicariously live their lives through these cartoon characters and toys … if we miss the generation of youth that’s coming up, if we do not minister to them the Lord Jesus Christ, then we’ve lost the generation of tomorrow and the Antichrist will have them.”

The average mid-80s child, Phillips said, viewed about 22,000 hours of TV before becoming an adult. Continuing, he said preschoolers made up about a quarter of the daytime TV viewing audience and that children couldn’t distinguish reality from fantasy until they were seven (a disputable claim, to be sure.)

Interestingly, Phillips also brings up commercialism, and how children tend to view TV advertisements as public service announcements as opposed to cash grabs.

“When a child watches this about 30 times on a Saturday,” Phillips says after a Cookie Crisp ad, “he is  programmed by the companies to be an advocate for their product … if they can do that with a 30 second commercial, imagine what they can do with 30 minute cartoons.”

This leads to Greenwald breaking out the Rainbow Brite and G.I. Joe cereals, and a He-Man action figure that he says gives kids a “taste” for the occult. Then, they critique the occult overtones of “She-Ra,” without once mentioning the show’s even blunter gay overtones.

Discussing “Thundercats,” Phillips says the characters are based on heathen man-beast gods, while Greenwald condemns their “gymnastics” and “thrusting” as signs of eastern paganism. Greenwald goes further in his criticism, saying the show encourages necromancy -- and as we all know, dark spirits sure do love imitating our dead relatives.

At the 40 minute mark, Phillips lets us know that kids don’t have to sacrifice chickens in their backyards to moon gods to be ensnared in Lucifer’s grips. Greenwald responds by urging parents to get this demonic shit out of their homes and praying through the VCR to cast out any Satanic spells that may be a pox on their home.

Switching gears, the two discuss how Barbie gives little girls unrealistic standards of beauty and makes them develop anorexia. Instead, Phillips said they should be playing with “mothering” dolls, not being all wrapped up in fashion and whatnot.

And then, we get into the really good stuff with “Dungeons and Dragons,” as Greenwald says 12-sided die literally scream when tossed into fires. Not to be outdone, Phillips rails against glow in the dark toys, and Greenwald ups the ante by breaking out some mint-in-box INFACEABLES figurines before gleefully playing with a Sectaurs hand puppet, which he described as something that looked like it could be spawned straight out of the Book of Revelations.

Today, it's hand puppets, tomorrow, it's virgin sacrifices. That's how occultism works, you know.

The two then exchange biblical passages on why they’re right about all this shit, with Greenwald stating that if you bring something accursed into your house, you too, deserve to be accursed. Phillips, whom Greenwald constantly refers to as “Phil Phillips, from Texas,” said that watching “Thundercats” was a direct affront to god, who forbade His follower from seeking “ungodly counsel.”

You know, I should really bring up the absolute best thing about this video, which is the backdrop. It’s this really homey, comfy living room -- complete with a huge honking cathode ray tube  set-- situated in a nice, suburban neighborhood, as evident by the junky blue station wagon and random passersby that crop up on the window seal. In a way, it kinda’ looks like Phillips and Greenwald filmed this thing inside one of those Playskool make-believe homes … which, of course, we can all pray isn’t an instrument of the Dark Lord.

In addition to killing the American motion picture as an art form, Phillips also has a vendetta against George Lucas and Stevie Spielberg for introducing the little ones to the Satanic arts. “Star Wars,” he said, has allusions to Zen Buddhism and Norse mythology, while E.T. was a “camouflage”  occult film ripe with levitation, mind control and plenty of homosexual subtext.

The superhero genre gets a fine berating next, with Phillips accusing Superman of “necromancy” and criticizing the Son of Satan for … well, you can figure this one out.

Switching gears, Phillips said he was concerned about the ever-increasing amount of violence on children’s programming; “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” averaged 80 violent acts per half hour, he said, while the most violent adult programs of the day averaged just four to six. Piggybacking, Greenwald said he was shocked by the hyper-militaristic toys being hawked to children.

Perhaps we ought to pay attention to Phillips’ thoughts on the “barbarization” of our children:

“Through these violent movies and violent cartoons, they’re teaching our children that the way to handle problems is through violence … we see things such as flat gum that look like shrapnel … one commentator was talking about the feelings in Russia, and he said the Russians were more upset about this new trend in America, the children wearing the fatigues and becoming more militaristically-minded, than they were nuclear arms.”
Ah, the 1980s -- back when Toys 'R Us had its own "Junior Soldier of Fortune" section.

This leads to Greenwald breaking out a Rambo-branded, M-16 squirt gun and ominously chirping “the children get the feeling that guns are in now, that shooting people is in.”

And Phillips’ riposte to accusations that the Bible is as equally violent as “Transformers?” Well, it’s different, you see, because the Bible is a historical document chronicling thousands of years of humanity, as opposed to a 90-minute film, comprised of pure-grade compressed violence.

Even the more innocuous franchises of the era, Phillips said, were anti-Christian. The Smurfs, he said, were homosexual corpses, while the Care Bears were occult objects designed by marketers to be used by children as unlicensed guidance counselors. And per Greenwald, the pagan overtones of “My Little Pony” is destroying America -- oh, if only he would’ve made this video 25 years later.

After deconstructing “Voltron,” Greenwald throws it to a disembodied announcer, offering viewers audio cassette recordings of said video presentation, along with the official Eagle’s Nest newsletter, for the rock-bottom price of just $15 USD.

The presentation concludes with a look at the violent content in “Transformers,” which thanks to the ceaseless capitalistic ambitions of one Michael Bay, remains surprisingly relevant in this, the year of our lord 2014. Phillips caps the video with a message to parents, stating that the scripture should take “preeminence” in their households. He brings up how, back in the day, dads used to literally bound their children’s foreheads with the word of God … of course, he doesn’t expect today’s namby-pamby parents to go that far, but hey, it is an option on the table, at least.

On the surface, it’s pretty easy to write off “Deception of a Generation” as Satanic Panic propaganda of the most absurd caliber, but really, there’s nothing these two guys say about the impact of pop culture on the perspective of youths that hasn’t also been championed by more reliable, non-biased sources.

Ultimately, if you were to replace “Satan worshipping Illuminati” with “shameless advertising executives,” the whole argument presented in “Deception” would be all but inarguable.

I am reminded of “The Cereal Box Conspiracy Against the Developing Mind,” an absolutely fantastic essay penned by Michelle Handelman and Monte Cazazza in the late 1980s. In that little tirade, the authors explore how marketers have manipulated children into hyper-consumerist mindsets via commercials, television programs and a litany of branded goods.

Nor is the argument, save the whole demonic aspect, really any different from the same marketing manipulation angle posited by Douglas Rushkoff, who observed countless political and social agendas belying children’s programming in his 1994 book “Media Virus.”

And regarding the militarization themes of 1980s cartoons, author David Sirota more or less said the exact goddamn same things that Phillips and Greenwald talked about in his 2011 book, “Back to Our Future.” The infantilization phenomenon in U.S. popular culture was also explored in two fantastic treatises; "Consumed" by Benjamin Barber and "The Dumbest Generation" by Mark Bauerlein.

As anyone who has read the criminally underappreciated little gem “NESterday!! The Philosophy of our 8-bit Youth” can tell you, there’s a direct, more than intentional link between childhood pop culture intake and adult consumption behaviors. You can see the marketing philosophy in action, observing youths obsessing over “Pokemon” cards in the late 1990s to today’s twenty-somethings, who are utterly enrapt in acquiring the latest technological goods. No doubt, ours is a culture of feverish brand-loyalty, accompanied by a downright irrational thirst for whatever we’ve been told is the alleged “latest and greatest.”

That, I’d reckon, is the central argument Phillips and Greenwald indirectly brought up with “Deception of a Generation.” Just as they predicted, that juvenile pop culture has indeed led to the least religious generation in U.S. history; alas, we weren’t transformed into devil worshiping occultist, but rather, atheistic nihilists whose only concern in the world is buying stuff.

As wrong as Phillips and Greenwald were with the whole Satanism hullabaloo, they were unintentionally accurate when it came to the subterfuge social-engineering elements of then-contemporary pop culture. The only difference? Instead of becoming pawns of the Antichrist and Lucifer, we ended up becoming pawns of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg … as if those scenarios weren’t mechanically one-and-the-same, anyway.

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