After getting home late this evening, I sat down on the couch and started flipping through the channels.
For some reason, I stopped on Fox News for a few minutes, watching an interview with some Colonel that seemed vaguely interesting.
I watched for a few minutes, only giving it half my attention.
After ten minutes, something suddenly hit me.
In between each segment, Fox has taken to playing military-sounding music, a lone trumpet moan accompanying a low drum roll. While this somber music plays, they switch to two different screens. The first is dominated by the words "Operation: Iraqi Freedom." The second consists solely of the words "Never Forget" in huge letters.
Thinking about it, I remembered that I had seen that screen numerous times before, and had never paid it one second's worth of attention. It had slipped under my perceptual radar.
Now that I actually thought about it though, a question and its answer suddenly came into my head.
What is it we're supposed to never forget?
The answer, of course, is September 11th. That's why I hadn't given it any thought; over the last year and a half, I've seen so many variations of "never forget" so many times that I now completely filter them out. At this point, such sentiments are background noise.
The interesting thing about this instance, however, is that it is being overtly linked to the war in Iraq. I watched for a few more minutes to make sure that they weren't just doing an extended piece about 9/11. They weren't. It was all about Iraq. September 11th wasn't mentioned once. But, two more times, the screen admonished me to Never Forget.
I have never before had as intense an experience of Orwellian vertigo as I had as I watched this.
"Holy Christ, it's brilliant," I thought, "It's overt subliminal advertising."
In big white letters, Fox News is telling me how to feel about the war. I am supposed to directly link what I am watching on the screen with the events of September 11th.
It strange how subtle six-inch letters can be.
Am I overreacting? Well, no. I'm not freaking out, I'm not suddenly re-evaluating everything I know or think I know.
But I do think that the way in which such a blatant manipulation, even though it didn't officially "work" on me, completely slid under my radar is creepy as hell.