Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Traditionally politicians and world leaders like to do photo ops with babies. The association with the baby serves to portray a figure of authority as soft, cuddly and human. If you care about babies, you must care about the fate of humanity since everyone was once a baby. Politicians also make appearances at state fairs for the same reason. The Kitchen Debates which took place at the U.S. exhibit at the l959 World’s Fair in Moscow humanized both Vice President Nixon and Khrushchev to their opposing constituencies. So it’s interesting to find the smiling and genial face of Kim Jong-un next to a hydrogen bomb. If it weren’t one of the most destructive devices on earth and something whose power could ultimately destroy the planet, you might think that the Supreme Leader of the DPRK were glancing lovingly at an infant. But it’s interesting how association works in this case. It’s a principle of advertising that you want to tie your product to something that creates positive feelings in buyers. For instance Allstate is running a commercial in which a pater familias is driving along while his whole family is plugged into their devices. He will be the one getting the credits for safety is the point, which is hammered in by a familiar situation that everyone can smile at with identification. But the Korean leaders' photo ops play upon a reversal. He’s always surrounded by generals who all seem to be smiling with him. It’s not at all like Hitler’s emanations from the podium which were truly terrifying. Here Kim Jong-un plays the role of the infant whose presence humanizes and makes one sympathetic to the bomb.

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