March 30, 2016

Jen Senko's dad was a working-class content man once. And then he got a job with a commute, and with the commute came 3 hours a day of right-wing talk radio.

From talk radio, he graduated to Fox News. From Fox News, he graduated to right-wing internet propaganda -- email, websites like Drudge, and more.

It changed her father in profound ways. He went from being happy to being mean and angry all the time. Angry about everything, and angry at everyone. In an effort to try and understand it, Jen decided to make a documentary about it.

When she turned to Kickstarter to fund her film, she was flooded with stories of other people with the exact same story. You know that story too. All of us have a friend, a neighbor or a relative who has been sucked into the vortex of right-wing propaganda. Now we tiptoe around them at family gatherings, avoid any controversial subjects, and sigh silently, knowing that the venom spewed by media outlets like Fox News and right wing talk radio has altered them acutely.

Senko takes a deep dive into how this happened, not only from a structural standpoint. What Fox News does and how they do it is a central part of the story but certainly not all of it. She turned to an expert on brainwashing at Oxford University to explain the actual brainwashing techniques they use, and she also took a look at the history underneath the rise of right-wing propaganda outlets.

This isn't a film that you've seen before. No matter how many posts we write here about Fox News' lies, no matter how many times we warn about billionaires funding right-wing messaging, no matter how much we talk about how destructive it is, this film goes farther, and actually looks at how they do it. It's more complex than you think.

No spoilers from me, but I'll also tell you that there is a happy ending to this story. It's worth watching for the information, but it's even better to see the end, where you find out there really is a way to counterbalance the hate spewing from the right and get your crazy Uncle Liberty (h/t driftglass) back to reality with some creativity and love.

Senko's documentary also features commentary from Claire Conner about how the rise of right wing propaganda ties to the goals and philosophy of the John Birch Society. Conner is an expert on that topic, given that she was the daughter of one of the founders. Here's a clip of her from the interview she gave Senko:

The film is being screened around the country now, and you can also watch it on demand online.

Spend the money and see it. Then share it. Because this film is one we need now more than ever, especially as we get closer to November.

Besides, who doesn't love a happy ending?

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