Michael Stuart Kelly

The Story Wars of Hot Political Issues

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Further on the story war front, these two videos are self-explanatory.

They explain a recent MAJOR shift in audience expectations.

And an earlier video:

As I wrote elsewhere:

15 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... the new Generation Z teenagers (people born after 2000) are considering the Millennials as control freak grown-ups who want to suck all the joy out of their lives, so they are gravitating toward the new conservatism (more like conservative libertarianism). And the Millennials and left-wing folks in general are having a cow as they lose control of--and get ridiculed by--the young.

A good example of a difference in perspective concerns ugliness. Pop culture today celebrates ugly people in the name of social justice, but they do it with a toxic twist. Beautiful people (the icons and heroes) show they are ugly (and vulgar) inside, and ugly fat people show they are even uglier. (Villains excepted because they are supposed to be that way. :) ) It's almost like they want to eradicate inner beauty and good looks from human nature and human aspirations. A much healthier approach is right over the horizon where beauty is celebrated again and ugly fat people (or, hell, ugly skinny people), when they appear, come with hearts of gold. They are beautiful inside. 

All this is happening way faster than I expected. And it's happening for real, not just being manipulated from the top down by behavioral scientists allied with propagandists.

The truth is the bad guys can manipulate human nature for a short time, but it's near impossible to turn that into evolution. Humans will always go back to being human. And that makes me feel good. The story wars are critical in defining culture, but far less toxic in the long term than I had imagined.


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On 2/12/2017 at 11:20 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Notice that Rand's speeches always occurred when there were several ticking clocks running before disaster struck and the stakes had been ramped way up. There was a lot of stuff that still had to happen after the speech and readers wanted to get to it. The speeches were also personal--aimed at the bad guys in the story. Going from memory, they generally had the following beats (in this sequence):

1. You suck.
2. Here's why. Look what you are doing.
3. Here's how to get the damn thing right.
4. btw - Before I forget, fuck you.

Well... maybe Rand's jargon was a little different.


But I bet if you look, you will find these four beats in this sequence in almost every fictional speech she ever wrote.

So if you are a writer and want to include a speech in a story, (to use an old Hollywood storytelling formula) run your hero (or heroes) up a tree, throw rocks at him, set the tree on fire, then have him give the speech.

After that, get him out of the tree, of course. :) 

If anyone thinks this is disrespectful to Rand, I invite you to look at any fictional Rand speech.

My language is colorful, but you will see these four beats. Merely replace a different form of speech:

XXXXX is evil, you say? YYYY is evil? And you wonder why it's all falling apart?

(In other words, you suck.)


I'm going to look deeper, but off the top of my head, I think a variation on this runs throughout her essays. But instead of starting with "you suck," it changes to "they suck." 


I'm not evaluating anything with this, just noticing. Evaluation-wise, without doing any deep thinking about it yet, the four beats seems to be a very good rhetorical template. 


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On 2/12/2017 at 11:38 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

And an earlier video:

Maybe I should have posted this video separately. I think it's an enormously important identification of how post-modernism has invaded pop culture, which has helped turn off people's evaluative faculties and allowed them to accept outrageous moral equivalencies as the new normal.

Rand often said philosophy rules the culture. (I paraphrase, but that's what she always meant.) This is a stellar example of how it works.

On a story wars level to grab power, nothing could be more important than how to prepare an audience to accept the absurd as the ordinary. We can thank trickle-down post-modernism for that. Just make a bunch of enticing stories that don't make sense by packaging intellectual garbage in low-level instinctual emotions so they have visceral appeal. Voila. You have softened up the public for your power-grab by getting them to think that, even though it doesn't make any sense, it's ordinary and normal.

Another person who saw something similar is Victor Davis Hanson. See here:

Postmodernism By Another Name

He takes the idea further into journalism.

He, also, thinks fake news is able to leave its mark on implementing progressive social policies because post-modernism has weakened the public's evaluative faculty. He gives a ton of examples and the article is well worth reading.

The following quote stood out to me.


... the fake news mindset ultimately can be traced back to the campus. Academic postmodernism derides facts and absolutes, and insists that there are only narratives and interpretations that gain credence, depending on the power of the story-teller. In other words, white male establishment reactionaries have set up fictive rules of "absolute" truth and "unimpeachable" facts, and they have further consolidated their privilege by forcing the Other to buy into their biased and capricious notions of discriminating against one narrative over another.

The work of French postmodernists-such as Michael Foucault and Jacques Derrida that mesmerized academics in the 1980s with rehashed Nietzschean banalities about the absence of facts and the primacy of interpretation-has now been filtered by the media to a nationwide audience. If the mythical exclamation "hands up, don't shoot" was useful in advancing a narrative of inordinate police attacks against African Americans, who cares whether he actually said it? And indeed, why privilege a particular set of elite investigatory methodologies to ascertain its veracity?

As a nice touch, Hanson mentioned that the people promoting the fake news have contempt for the press that spreads their stories.


No one has described the methodology of fake news better than Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for Barack Obama and brother of the president of CBS News, David Rhodes. Ben Rhodes cynically bragged about how the Obama administration had sold the dubious Iran deal through misinformation picked up by an adolescent but sympathetic media (for which Rhodes had only contempt). As Rhodes put it, "The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That's a sea change. They literally know nothing."

Translated, that meant that Rhodes and his team fed false narratives about the Iran Deal to a sympathetic but ignorant media, which used its received authority to report those narratives as "truth"-at least long enough for the agreement to be passed before its multitudinous falsehoods and side-agreements collapsed under their own weight. "We created an echo chamber," Rhodes bragged to the New York Times: "They [reporters] were saying things that validated what we had given them to say."

Obama's healthcare advisor Jonathan Gruber likewise saw the virtues of fake news in pushing a political agenda. Gruber assumed that the public, not just the media, was stupid and easily conned: "Lack of transparency," he said, "is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever."

Again, the term "fake news" is best applied to mainstream media reporting of fantasies as facts that are demonstrably not true-and are probably known to be not true, but are thought to help advance a desired progressive political or cultural agenda.

The term "useful idiots" comes to mind.


Where have I heard that term before?



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It just occurred to me why the ruling class elites are using their media to promote the narrative that Russia is the reason Trump won the presidency. This story is so silly, I get irritated when I keep reading the mainstream press go on and on and on and on and on and on about it.

Why do they insist on telling this story as their weaponized propaganda in the mainstream story wars when they have abandoned the other storylines they floated as the reason they lost the election?

Here are just a few they abandoned:
-- Trump supporters are bigots (especially racists, and Nazis, and misogynists, etc. etc. etc.).
-- Trump supporters are stupid.
-- Trump turned the election into a dumbed down reality show.
-- Trump lost the popular vote so we should change the rules and just give her the office.
-- Comey screwed Clinton with FBI statements.
-- Clinton focused on substance instead of personal narrative.
-- There was voter fraud needing a recount (until the recount happened and Trump gained voters :) ).
-- An alt-right fake news machine.

And on and on and on...

None of these narratives got any traction with the public, and neither is the Russian narrative getting traction, yet they keep pumping it hard.


The lightbulb went off.

Now I know.

And they are misfiring again.

The American people (except for the fringe) are not afraid of President Trump.

You need a villain to fear if you want a story to take and there is nothing to fear about Trump. Notice that the storyline of Trump having his fingers on the nuclear code sinks into oblivion in the mainstream culture every time it's floated. People in general just don't fear him.

There's also nothing to fear in any of the narratives above. There's no James Bond villain.

But Russia has traditionally been feared. Cold war. Nukes. Spying. And so on.

I think they are latching onto this Russian narrative to see if they can make Americans fear Russia again. They want to resurrect the Cold War. But it's fizzling except in the paid-for corrupt globalist media. 

So I seriously doubt this story will turn into a long-term thing. But at least in terms of storytelling, now I understand why they keep pushing it even though it's lame to most people.

It's too late for the ruling class to successfully propagandize this story, though. I doubt they can ever make current Russia into a James Bond villain equal to the public perception of George Soros. 

Now there's a James Bond villain if ever there was one. Soros even talks like a James Bond villain. Put a picture of Putin shirtless on a horse right beside him and look. It's no contest.



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If they can't intimidate Trump they'll intimidate Congress. But the biggie is Trump himself. They intend to keep ruling by proxy.


it's all out war

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Michael wrote: You need a villain to fear if you want a story to take and there is nothing to fear about Trump. Notice that the storyline of Trump having his fingers on the nuclear code sinks into oblivion in the mainstream culture every time it's floated. People in general just don't fear him. end quote

Rush was saying he thought Obama would use TV to dominate the party and airways but so far he has not. When Obama left, I exhaled a sigh of relief. I still keep extra water on hand but I have always done that with my well water. And I am still ready to duck at a large flash like we used to do when I was a kid during the early Cold War . . . but (naughty alert) the spook is gone and now I trust Ghost Buster Trump.

Man, but Bebe and Trump are getting along well, with some genuine laughs.


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Brant wrote: If they can't intimidate Trump they'll intimidate Congress. But the biggie is Trump himself. They intend to keep ruling by proxy. it's all out war end quote

Well said. Rush at 12:45 is saying the same thing. There is an Obama proxy, shadow government within the federal bureaucracy as well as the propaganda press and they are relentlessly trying to get Trump supporters to think, there is no way Trump can win. And to lose hope, BUT it won’t work. I hope everyone will do what they can to avoid the lame stream media. Morning Joe has said Kellyanne Conway is banned from the show for calling MSNBC fake news. We should veto that by never turning that show on. Speak badly about them.

Back to Rush. Humana, which I have as supplemental insurance, is going to abandon Obama Care at the end of the year. The ACA is imploding at a faster pace. Lintsy Graham is on the radio saying we need to get to the bottom of all things Trump and his ties to Russia. What a rotten asshole. Fake news: “Lintsy’s Graham’s black lover stabs him in the grouch. Ouch!”

I wish there were a way America could show its support for The President. Rallies are an expensive waste of time and I don’t use social media other than email. We need some activists like with the early 2000’s Tea Party.


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This thread is about story wars, but dayaamm!

How about wholesale brainwashing warmups? Pre-trance induction?

For over 30,000 people on one conference call?

From Lifezette:

Left-Wing Activists Prepare for ‘Resistance’ with Breathing Exercises

The video in that article doesn't embed, but go there and listen to it (meaning it's a video, but basically an audio with a picture--a little over three minutes).

That's what it sounds like.

Double dayaamm!

Big brother is on the march!


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The following video dissects late night TV comedians and how they promote their political agendas.

Although it does not specifically broach story, it does cover some essential story elements.

Humor, for instance, can be a great form of triggering a primal fear in the audience of being an outcast, a hated (or at least a repudiated and scorned) outcast at that. In O-Land, it is not normal to acknowledge such innate primal fears, but neuroscience and modern psychology are more and more proving that these things exist in the brain at birth (even pre-birth), sometimes in seed-like form where they mature and ripen as the infant grows, or pure fear that instantly triggers cortisol and other fear-contributing neurochemicals as is. 

As to story, during a late-night comedy routine, the viewer is invited to transport himself or herself into a hero, a member of a tribe who laughs at the enemy.

We all do this all the time because we evolved this trait as a survival mechanism. Insider groups are safer than individuals in the wild. And modern humans have tamed this urge to insult and make it fun without being toxic through fans taunting each other at sports, put-downs in action and comedy fiction, and so on.

However, the late-night comedians in this video manage to stay right on the line between lighthearted play and literal bloodshed. They attract by pretending to be cultural fun and nothing more, but they include a toxic political agenda of real hatred, which ultimately makes people spit on each other in loathing and escalate to violence.

This form of "cultural fun" is an incubator for blind self-righteous rage--this is what blind self-righteous rage looks like in its seed-like state, before it ripens.

This video is a great examination of how to conduct a story war. These pied pipers laugh their audience into real outrage over political targets.

I wish it had included examples of demonizing through humor (the kind that fosters hatred, as opposed to a sassy kind of benevolence) from the perspective of other agendas and political angles, but in today's culture, you take what you get when something good appears and try to extract the most value from it.

Anyway, my purpose is different than that of Alexander Villena and Luther Heinrich (the real names behind the "1791" YouTube channel. I wish to understand the story-war mechanism itself so I can avoid being influenced by it (and maybe even help defuse it) wherever it may come from when it goes toxic, and 1791 wishes to defend a conservative freedom-loving viewpoint and way of life against political attack. I happen to agree with 1791's purpose, but that is not the core reason I am studying this stuff and sharing my thoughts about it with you. My initial approach is to correctly identify how things like this work. I can judge all I want afterward and know I'm on solid ground.

Incidentally, this video is not only on YouTube. I first saw it on Real Clear Politics Video (see here), which means it is getting mainstream exposure.


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What a coincidence.

I did not plan following the post above with the content of this one. It just happened that way.

What's the deal? Well, it's about a late night comedian, again. But this time it's not about laughing people into an outrage. It's about crying them into one.

Jimmy Kimmel is the storyteller. 

Ben Shapiro is brutal on opening the curtains and showing the rot behind him, too, with logic and identification. You normally have to fight a story war with another story because of the emotions involved, but Shapiro managed to use reason and explanation and still be effective. I don't know how effective he will be in the long run within the culture. Not very, I imagine, so I don't think this is the best way to fight this kind of story war. But it's useful as all get out for helping to show Kimmel's propaganda template. 

Let's step back from the issue itself and see what is going on in the background persuasion-wise and story-wise.

A normal persuasion message goes like this:

1. You get a person's attention (danger, incongruity, etc.).
2. You bond with the person (using emotion).
3. You present your message (this is where reason enters and you mix it with emotion).
4. You tell the person(s) what you want them to do.

This is obviously for "cold" messages, meaning you are not already interacting with the person. The person is coming across your message, whether video, audio, print, or even spoken live, by showing up at that moment. This is called "cold" as in "cold calling."

Kimmel uses this persuasion template with a variation. He starts by getting our attention with a discussion of the recent shooting in Las Vegas. Then he bonds by almost crying in front of everyone. The mirror neurons of us, the audience, start lathering on the oxytocin in our brains and we want to cry with him. Anyone in that kind of distress needs our help and we can feel it. But notice the template, meaning this is step number two: bonding.

Now here's Kimmel's variation. He does not move into a message about the issue itself. Instead, he stays in bonding and does a bait and switch. Using some indirection, he makes it clear that we, the audience, should feel guilty because WE are the real reason for his distress. Like an alchemist, he changes pity into guilt.

And if we want to help him stop feeling this distress and stop his tears, if we want to stop feeling guilty, we have to make some changes in our lives. And damn it, we should. We can do this. Enter gun control, etc., etc., etc. (step three, the message). And, to finalize, he wants us to change. We need to embrace our guilt and change to his way of thinking. And we need to do it NOW. (Step four, call to action).

That follows the four persuasion message points to a tee.

But that's copywriting. Why is this in a thread about story wars?

Well, through emotion, Kimmel is actually telling a story. He's the hero (obviously). There is a monster attacking the gates that is on the brink of destroying us all and someone has to fight it. To him, the NRA is the monster with it's greedy greed greed and bribery and black magic destructive curse (guns). But there's an obstacle, a bad one, an almost insurmountable one, standing in his way. What's worse, it's not the monster or the curse.

It's YOU (us), the befuddled complacent villager. You are the fool in the classic monster story who says monsters don't exist. But (weep weep weep), oh the tragedy, the heartache, the pain of it all... (And off he goes with his narrative.)

Notice who is missing as primary characters in this story? The shooter and the shot. They are secondary characters brought up to signal plot points or strengthen an emotion and then immediately retired. 

So here is the template--the emotional template--for this particular toxic form of manipulation and it layers perfectly into any victimization story. 

Get your audience's attention with danger (usually a story situation with a victim or victims) and bond with your audience using pity. Cry (or have the protagonist cry if you are telling it in third person) as you detail the tragedy. After the audience is lathered up and emotionally with you, suddenly accuse the audience itself of being the cause of oppressing the victim. Twist the knife and make the audience feel guilty as all hell. Then show them redemption: your agenda. Then simply finish the story and tell them to get with the program.

Boom. Message delivered directly to the heart and sewn up for good measure. 

A compelling story plus embedded persuasion equals great propaganda. Even brainwashing to a certain extent...

If you do this right, you will move lots of people to your way of thinking (at least for a time) and they will not even know you used a template.

Man, are these late night comics good at what they do...


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The following is one of the most important posts on this thread, but it's not involved with storytelling as a persuasion tactic. It's what happens when a false core story gets embedded in a culture, then gets effectively rejected by the scapegoated folks. An entire industry can suffer massive damage. And that is what is happening to Hollywood, the home of an iconic American form of storytelling (movies).

Andrew Breitbart was fond of saying "Politics is downstream from culture." If he were alive, I am sure he would be bursting with pride at the following three-part cultural dissection by Patrick Courrielche and Adryana Cortez on the site he founded.

There are links to the articles, but I recommend the podcast versions, which are more elaborate. Each podcast is a half hour or so--together they take the time of a normal Hollywood movie. But both print and podcast versions are great.


Tinseltown Travelogue Part One - Dear Right Wingers, We Hate You. Love, Hollywood


Tinseltown Travelogue Part Two - Attention All Trump Voters, Immediately Exit Stage Right


Tinseltown Travelogue Part Three - Hollywood…meet The Deplorables


All stories need a villain and all social movement core stories need an even worse villain. They need a scapegoat. (Why is another discussion, but let's leave it as a hard-and-fast-rule for now.)

The one overwhelming "story war" lesson I got from this series is, if you are a propagandist, make sure you scapegoat small groups, preferably defenseless ones, not half the country (more, actually) like Hollywood is doing. A scapegoat archetype works as a villain when it is distant, not when it is your next door neighbor who doesn't look anything like the caricature, but is gradually getting pissed at being demonized. :) 

You can bully a small group. Try to bully over half the country and, after these folks get sick of it, they will kick your ass to Mount Horeb and back. Hollywood is now learning that lesson.


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