DHS Admits Use of Television and Movies for New Behavioral Norms


In a  June 2011 document from the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council, confirmed that “television shows and movies have long been used to foster new behavioral norms”.

The council, chaired by Maryland Governor Martin O’ Malley, is composed of 19 members and 16 subject matter experts. Notable members of the council include Ruth David, President and CEO of Analytic Services – a government-funded non-profit research institute, Mohamed Elibiary – who reportedly once called Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini  a “great Islamic visionary”, and Howard Gordon – writer and producer of the worldwide syndicated television show 24, which is centered around the life of Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent.

The seemingly harmless document, which is readily available on the DHS public website, is centered around engaging communities in building resilience which according to the DHS is defined as “the Ability of systems, infrastructures, government, business and citizenry to resist, absorb, recover from, or adapt to an adverse occurrence that may cause harm, destruction, or loss of national significance.” The task force has prepared approximately 11 recommendations for the DHS to build effective community resilience.

 If you look closely, one recommendation contains some interesting information. Recommendation 2.2 – Build Public Awareness, suggests “DHS should develop and implement a comprehensive and coherent suite of communications strategies in support of a national campaign to increase public awareness and motivate individual citizens to help build societal resilience.” The CRTF also believes that “a robust television, print, and social media advertising campaign is needed to promote the message of individual empowerment and self-reliance, as well as infrastructure, business, community, and national resilience.” Members go on to reveal “the exploration of novel opportunities to promulgate this campaign, particularly on broadcast and cable television. Television shows and movies have long been used to foster new behavioral norms (e.g., by depicting characters not smoking and always putting on their safety belt before getting into a car chase); certain resilience behaviors could be similarly modeled.”

The document continues to discuss this technique in detail as a “Novel Way to Promote Resilience” as it proclaims  “content producers of various shows could embed the resilience message in the body of their shows, reaching the specific demographic of their audience. For instance, ‘Modern Family’ or ‘The Simpsons’ could feature one member of the family trying to convince another family member to be prepared. A younger demographic could be reached through any of the Nickelodeon or Disney series.”

This document confirms the overwhelming speculation that the government has long used the media to subconsciously foster new behavioral norms throughout a wide variety of demographics. The next most logical question is “where else could the government be using these techniques, and what agenda are they trying to push?”. What might prove to be even more shocking is Howard Gordon’s involvement with DHS. Gordon is most well-known for his work on the show 24 and Homeland, both of which were very successful shows for Fox and Showtime. This information could indicate these shows may have been intentionally produced to shift public opinion on the war on terror.