Okay, you’ve heard me bitch a great deal about negative and destructive propaganda outlets, but maybe you haven’t heard me take time to praise positive and constructive “propaganda” outlets. For one thing, there just aren’t as many of them; and also, that’s not really the focus of this blog. I would like to take this opportunity, however, to tell you about one such outlet that has cropped up recently: The Gravel Institute. It’s especially noteworthy, because it was designed specifically to be an antidote to one specific very prominent and very harmful negative propaganda organ.
The Gravel Institute is the creation of Mike Gravel (pronounced Gra-VELL), former Democratic senator from Alaska. (He later switched to Libertarian, then back to Democrat.) He launched the Gravel Institute in September, announcing that it was specifically designed to be an antidote to PragerU. To that end, Gravel follows the same format as Prager — i.e., videos of approximately 5 minutes in length, with a mini-lecture by a recognized speaker, and even using similar style graphics to PU.
At this writing, Gravel has produced only a handful of videos: e.g., “The Truth About the Electoral College”, “The Truth About the Civil War”, “Capitalism vs. Freedom”, and “Is Big Government Really the Problem?”. And by golly, it looks like they are indeed attacking the very myths that Prager has been building up. They haven’t done so in a particularly engaging fashion, but then neither does Prager.
Having a background in the entertainment industry, and being well aware how the public these days has an ever-shortening attention span as well as an ever-rising threshold of engagement, I tend to think that the only way– or at least the best way — to really get through to people is to make them laugh. (My wife has been getting much of her news from Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers during the past 4 years, because she says otherwise it’s just too grim to stomach.)
So maybe Gravel could take a lesson or two from Juice Media, which I’ve also just discovered recently. Juice Media actually has been around for several years, but it flew under my radar because it’s based in Australia, and handles mostly the batshittery in that country (yes, they have batshittery everywhere — Americans don’t have a monopoly on it, though we seem to own the lion’s share of the market). But Juice also has put out some very watchable videos about American lunacy. The particular one that brought them to my attention deals with the administration’s blatant tampering with the Postal Service in an effort to throw the election. It’s informative, engaging, and rib-crackingly funny. I also recommend the one on QAnon.
Anyway, while Gravel may not win any Oscars for outstanding performances, it’s doing what it set out to do: providing a solid factual counterpoint to right-wing mythology, and particularly to the right-wing mythology peddled by PragerU. The latter, by the way, has taken note, and made comments to the effect of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. But Gravel isn’t just imitating; it is indeed beating Prager at its own game. While it took PragerU several years to amass 100,000 followers, Gravel Institute hit that milestone in a matter of weeks. There is a clearly a real hunger out there for what it has to offer.
So here’s looking forward to many productive years for Gravel Institute. (And we hope its longevity is not dependent on that of Gravel himself, who’s already north of 90.) Glad you’re here, guys.