'Propaganda' Review - Pyongyang Style
'Propaganda' Review - Pyongyang Style
By Destination Travel Info / destinationtravelinfo.blogspot.com.au
If YouTube was a race, gold would go to South Korea with Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ easily topping one billion hits, while silver would go to North Korea for it's documentary ‘Propaganda’ currently sitting at 1.3 million hits. This hard hitting expose on capitalist public relations techniques takes a pot shot at almost every aspect of the Western system and scores many direct hits. ‘Propaganda’ is either a damning indictment of 21st Century culture or the best piece of propaganda in a generation.
 
The 96 minute expose currently has a score of 8.1 out of 10 on IMDb and was loaded onto YouTube on 18 May 2012, claiming to have been smuggled out of the world’s last Stalinist state by North Korean agents posing as defectors to Seoul. The reality lies on the other side of the world in one of the world’s freest societies; New Zealand. In 2003 the now 42 year old Christchurch based film producer/writer/director Slavko Martinov came up with the idea and spent the next eight years writing, researching and editing the masterpiece in secret. He spent literally thousands of hours reviewing TV shows and other documentaries to find the perfect accompaniment to the narration. In the footsteps of Justin Beiber who claims footage was stolen to create his viral music clip ‘Beauty and a Beat’, so to Slavko created a mythical backstory about how his mocumentary supposedly reached the West. While no one took Justin Beiber’s claims seriously few can believe ‘Propaganda’ is not the brainchild of Pyongyang. The New Zealand Police’s anti-terrorism unit monitored the production of the film and questioned the producer while South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) refuse to believe their nuclear powered brothers in the north were not involved in the project. Eugene Chang, the New Zealand resident who acts as the psychologist narrator in the film has been shunned by the local Korean community and has even been refused communion from his local Korean Catholic church. He has also been accused of being a North Korean agent and threatened with espionage charges in South Korea. Eugene Chang denies being a communist but is a performer and said ‘if an actor plays Hitler it doesn’t mean they’re a Nazi.’
 
A Propaganda film about Propaganda
Propaganda’ is claimed by its director as a mocumentary yet is so cutting and scathing of the West’s Public Relations (PR) industry that it is hard to find anything funny in the film at all. The film’s comprehensive coverage of the history and abuse of PR by Western governments is supported by often incontestable facts and footage from the mainstream media. The film’s revelations are sobering and thought provoking. The extreme example being the ease with which the public has been tricked into false wars, particularly the West's invasion of Iraq over non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

 
Propaganda’ claims that PR is a recipe that has been perfected to control the lives and shopping habits of the West. The public are hypnotised into a complacent sense of wellbeing and dazed by a cocktail of celebrities, fashion, glamour and rampant consumerism fuelled by mesmerising television, music and video games. So captivated by the glitz of PR’s sensationalism and trivia the public allow themselves to go along with whatever their ‘puppet masters’ decide for them, including wars and false flag attacks to mould public opinion. The film fires its heaviest artillery at some of the West’s most popular brands and famous celebrities. Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are all singled out for special criticism together with the usual targets including Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Australia’s former prime minister John Howard who are all labelled war-criminals, degenerates and cowards.
 
Propaganda’ and Israel’s Mossad
Seven people were involved in the making of ‘Propaganda’ but four of the team are frightened to publicise their involvement in the project. Slavko Martinov was the producer and Mike Kelland the co-producer. Eugene Chang plays the narrator. Other crew members don’t want to be identified because they expect Slavko ‘will get a bullet from Mossad’. This is not as crazy as it sounds as Israel’s ‘CIA’ has a long history of operating in New Zealand. New Zealand passports make great covers for Mossad agents. In 2003 a Mossad ring was uncovered stealing New Zealand passports and in 2011 Mossad agents were killed in the Christchurch earthquake downloading the New Zealand Police database. ‘Propaganda’ singles out Israel for harsh criticism so it seems reasonable that a state which understands the value of controlling its media image might like to silence a critic. ‘Propaganda’ made it to Amsterdam’s IDFA Film Festival in November 2012 and in 2013 the Israeli film community will have an opportunity to demonstrate their openness to criticism by selecting the film to their prestigious DocAviv documentary film festival. Paradoxically, despite Israel's willingness to silence opposition with a bullet, it remains the most tolerant society in the Middle East, despite its many political flaws.
 
Propaganda’ and a fatwa
This documentary makes repeated attacks on both organised religion and the Old Testament God himself. Judaism, Catholicism, Christianity and Pentecostal television evangelists are all singled out for special criticism while Islam is notably absent. Slavko admits that Islam was deliberately excluded from criticism because he ‘didn’t want a fatwa issued against me.’ Ironically, because the film does not criticise Muslims its anti-materialism theme might win it fans in the Islamic world.  
 
Future of ‘Propaganda
Producing a film that attacks the political and economic basis of the capitalist world is usually not very good for career prospects, yet Slavko Martinov’s ‘Propaganda’ has done such a meritorious job at it he deserves credit for both his bravery and documentary skill. For most people the film is a pill too bitter to swallow, but its thought provoking potential make ‘Propaganda’ essential viewing for everyone who owns a television set. Slavko admits he ‘doesn’t expect to get any money back from this film’ and goes on to say jokingly ‘this makes me the worst producer in the world. The first two letters of Propaganda are P.R. My intention for the film was for it to be an antidote to the giant doses of bullshit we’re fed by PR’. It certainly does that.
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'Propaganda' Review - Pyongyang Style