Event Title

The Elements in Historical Propaganda Recurring in Criminal Procedurals: A Study of NCIS and its Portrayal of the War on Terror

Presenter Information

Yonce Hitt, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 123

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2019 9:30 AM

End Date

4-27-2019 10:50 AM

Abstract

How does propaganda function in liberal democracies? How is it constructed in the “absence” of the state? This paper argues that crime drama portrayals of both the U.S. domestic police force and military share common, foundational elements with historically successful propaganda campaigns. I focus on the portrayal of the varying policing bodies in the first nine seasons of the successful police procedural, NCIS. I identify four major components of propaganda present in both historical campaigns and current police television portrayals: the meshing of reality and fiction, the clear distinction between good and evil, the dehumanization of the enemy, and the construction of the perpetual threat. Utilizing historical examples and scholarly work to back up my claims, I show the parallels between these two forms of propaganda and argue that "copaganda" poses a unique threat because it is not state-sanctioned, but self-perpetuating and profitable, further blurring its propagandistic elements and guaranteeing its reproduction.

Keywords:

Propaganda, liberal democracies, pop culture, media, copaganda

Notes

Session I, Panel 2 - Popular | Propaganda

Moderator: Pablo Mitchell, Professor of History and Comparative American Studies

Major

Politics; Law & Society

Advisor(s)

Harry Hirsch, Politics and Law & Society

Project Mentor(s)

Charmaine Chua, Politics

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Apr 27th, 9:30 AM Apr 27th, 10:50 AM

The Elements in Historical Propaganda Recurring in Criminal Procedurals: A Study of NCIS and its Portrayal of the War on Terror

King Building 123

How does propaganda function in liberal democracies? How is it constructed in the “absence” of the state? This paper argues that crime drama portrayals of both the U.S. domestic police force and military share common, foundational elements with historically successful propaganda campaigns. I focus on the portrayal of the varying policing bodies in the first nine seasons of the successful police procedural, NCIS. I identify four major components of propaganda present in both historical campaigns and current police television portrayals: the meshing of reality and fiction, the clear distinction between good and evil, the dehumanization of the enemy, and the construction of the perpetual threat. Utilizing historical examples and scholarly work to back up my claims, I show the parallels between these two forms of propaganda and argue that "copaganda" poses a unique threat because it is not state-sanctioned, but self-perpetuating and profitable, further blurring its propagandistic elements and guaranteeing its reproduction.