I watched an interesting “documentary” the other night on Netflix.
It was made by Frank Capra, and it was a world war II propaganda movie, made specifically against the Japanese.
Studying it from a persuasion standpoint was interesting. Propaganda movies are usually well made.
It made the Japanese look both beatable, and a formidable enemy at the same time.
It was designed to generate hatred and fear for the Japanese during WWII, and at the same time build a massive amount of confidence in the American military.
It’s no secret why they chose Capra. Regardless of which way you want to move emotions, movies are IDEAL tools of persuasion.
But since most movies we have experience with today persuade us to feel certain emotions, we don’t see how powerful of a propaganda tool they once were.
Why are movies such powerful tools of persuasion?
Why do they move us to tears or action?
Because they do what traditional “persuasion” can’t.
Traditional sales and persuasion involves somebody telling us what we SHOULD do.
And even if it’s a good idea, it feels like we’re following orders.
And few people enjoy following orders.
But movies, on the other hand, they invite us to go along willingly.
We see the hero’s and the bad guys, and we imagine ourselves right in there in the mix.
Nobody’s making us do it. Nobody even knows we’re doing it.
But deep in our mind, we are. It’s hard NOT to. To imagine that YOU are the hero, YOU are the one killing the bad guys and saving the people.
(And getting the girls!)
And just like you can drive an ambulance or a getaway car, this tool can be used for wartime propaganda, or for making people feel wonderful.
Think of all the things you WISH you could “tell people” to do.
Things you want them to do, and things you KNOW they’d benefit from.
If you learn how to wrap those ideas up in a story, they will GLADLY take your advice.
Because stories are a way to INVITE them to IMAGINE taking your advice through the story.
Only they won’t think it’s advice.
They’ll imagine it as a fantastic adventure.
If you tell it right, it will be an adventure they imagine taking together, with you.