Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

By: Grainne Rhuad


“In every religious tradition, the idea of violating free will is something God doesn’t even do, yet man thinks he can do this and is attempting to circumvent these unalienable rights.”-Jeff Warrick  Writer/Producer/Director-Programming the Nation?

The Movie opens with shots both of the World Trade Center Disaster occurring, images burned into most of our brains by this time and Ground Zero in current time.  Strong images to build a documentary on.  The viewer gets the impression that whatever is going to be presented in this film is important, pay attention and maybe even given the context of the movie; was there something we should have seen?  Was there something we missed about 9/11?

However, the movie jumps track from there.  What we are instead introduced to is the world of Subliminal Messages.  The meeting of science and urban legend.  The question is put to the audience, are companies, politicians and nations trying to sway your opinion without your knowledge?

A good overview is given of the development of subliminal messaging.  We revisit Freud who introduced the academic world to the idea that the mind is at work on levels we aren’t aware of on a daily basis.  We are reminded of how affectively nationalism worked to move the hearts and minds of the people of Germany under the Nazi regime.

The filmmaker really gets to the meat of what he wants us to know when he digs into an early subliminal scam that most filmmakers, marketers and psychology students learn about.  The James Vicary Picnic Hoax.

In 1947, James Vicary claimed he inserted the words “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coca Cola” into film called Picnic a la Tyler Durden to unknowing crowds over a six week period.  He then went on tour with his supposed findings selling to the advertising world his results.  He claimed that popcorn sales had risen by 57% and coca-cola sales had risen by 18.1%.  Unfortunately, in 1962 Vicary admitted the results were too small to be meaningful.  However, he did remind the ad world that the subliminal mind was there and maybe it would be profitable to tap into it.  His faux research also caught the attention of the CIA who based on his claims produced a report “The operational potential of subliminal perception.”

The film goes on from there to touch down on both the fake and the real cases of subliminal stimulus in media.  It is chock full of interviews from people in the field of advertising and psychology as well as names you know like David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine, Amy Goodman of Democracy NOW! And Mark Mothersbaug, founding member of DEVO.

While the film itself was a good introduction to the idea of subliminal messages, I found myself having some problems with it, the biggest being much of what was presented was not in fact ‘subliminal’.  The term “subliminal” means beneath the threshold of perception. Many things are subliminal, such as the circulation of our blood, which we normally do not feel, experience, or perceive moving throughout our bodies.  However, a lot of examples were more in the realm of suggestion as viewers could clearly see and experience the stimuli.

In addition, Warrick veered into the realm of propaganda.  While propaganda can certainly be subliminal, mostly it’s not.  It revolves around nationalism, idealism and in your face ‘remember this’ much like the U.S. has experienced since 9/11.  The film pointedly discussed Video News Releases which showed clips that were obvious in their juxtaposition.  This cannot by definition be subliminal.

When it came to military and government involvement the film pointed out some areas of concern which I agree with.  Namely Project Solo in Desert Storm.   Also there is the CIA papers mentioned before, which clearly state the government is interested in subliminal tactics.  On the other hand he made stretches; as in taking on HAARP- The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. A program in Alaska which sports an Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI), a high power radio frequency transmitter facility operating in the high frequency (HF) band. The IRI is used to temporarily excite a limited area of the ionosphere. Other instruments, such as VHF and UHF radar, a fluxgate magnetometer, a digisonde and an induction magnetometer, are used to study the physical processes that occur in the excited region.  While it has been noted that there are physical effect associated with IRI such as moose and other animals backing away from it and people experiencing headaches and nausea, none of these fall under the categories of subliminal mind control.

Overall as I viewed this I appreciated the commitment to knowledge that Warrick brought to the film.  The film, while it could have been wildly skewed, stayed in the area of trying to present information the viewer could then follow in order to make their own conclusions.  A lot of examples on both sides of the issue were given and Warrick even pointed out that his lifelong views around some principles turned out to be wrong.  This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of this film.  The fact that in our quest for truth we must be willing to abandon our favorite ideals when they prove to be wrong.

The film closed once again in New York with images of Ground Zero, which I still don’t understand in context to the entire work.  It was slightly disconcerting.  I was left feeling like I wanted more.  I understood that 9/11 had affected the writer, but was the subliminal in this act?  It seemed to me that like much of the movie, this brand of terrorism was very much in your face.

For more information on Programming the Nation and its production company visit their website @

By Grainne

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7 thoughts on “Programming The Nation?-A Review”
  1. Grainne, i appreciate that you separated the difference between subliminal messaging and suggestion. Subliminal messaging is both organic and artificial as it involves all five senses relaying data to the sub-conscious. People find the idea of subliminal messaging scarier than suggestion because it involves implanting images on the sub-conscious level, yet it is the mind’s sub-conscious center that is the actual watch dog. It smells danger, fear, attraction even when consciously, you don’t. It hears changes in the wind direction, murmurs and rustling that you don’t hear on a conscious level.

    While we can be tampered with on a subliminal level, the sub-conscious can actually sort it out. It is the power of suggestion that weakens it. Tell a person one time the world is flat and you’ll receive an argument. But advertise daily on the television your revelation that the world is flat, and after awhile, some people will begin to believe it. Find various ways to present your flat earth argument, pump up the public belief, present a few falling-off-the-edge-of-the-world documentaries and you will have a society of people who are convinced the earth is flat. This is reinforcement; the second step toward mind control; the power to make your conscious mind believe what the sub-conscious knows isn’t true.

    One of the biggest objections i have with HAARP is that we (the public) do not really know what type of long-term effects these high frequency modulations will have on the human brain. We do not hear these frequencies on a conscious level, but the caribou herds have changed their migration patterns, veering away from the array. Nor do other species of wildlife appear to favor this high frequency modulation. We, the public, also do not know what, if anything, this frequency is doing to our stratosphere, already weakened with greenhouse gasses. It’s the intense secrecy behind HAARP that bothers me, the refusal to justify its existence. It’s there. People living near it complain of headaches and nausea. The wildlife don’t come near it. There are those who say it’s being used to more accurately predict the weather. There are others who say it’s being used to learn how to control the weather. It’s all rumors because nobody really knows anything about it.

  2. did you notice that every sentence, if spoken backwards, after having two beers, says SUPPORT SUBVERSIFY ????

  3. Most of what you mention is really nothing new – not even to our century! State entities have been filling people’s minds with all sorts of nonsense about loyalty to some notion of “god,” “king” or “fatherland” since civilization first began! Granted, the techniques used to foster loyalty to these imaginary concepts have changed over time but the message remains more or less the same: be a oompliant little member of society and don’t challenge those in authority over you!

    I don’t really know what’s going on with the whole HAARP project, but secrecy invoked by the establishment leaves a foul oder whenever it is used – it is from such cloaks of secrecy that the Manhattan Project and MK Ultra were born and brought into fruition for the service of the ruling classes. The existence of such programs is the strongest argument for the destruction of the state (for they can’t exist without a state to nourish them).

  4. @Azazel, it was the ‘nothing new’ aspect that was a draw back for me in the film as well. It could be a jumping off point or introduction for those not familiar with the subject, but I would have liked to see the writer/director dive a little deeper, and stick to the truly subliminal.

  5. Does anyone know where find or watch this documentary? I have turned internet upside down, without finding any working torrent, download or streaming page.
    This is most unusual. There is a few reviews, and comments on some pages but none of them quite recent. Almost like it disappeared from everywhere at same time. This shouldn’t be possible.

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