There they were again in 1962’s Manchurian Candidate, in spades. But this time around not as doors awaiting opening, but as implants designed to elicit a pre-calculated response. The queen of hearts/spades taught us to do as told, replaced our heads to make sure we would.
Second reprises re-open unfinished discussions, but then leave them hanging. The novelty of Frankenheimer’s take was that he reminded us that this kind of symbolically activated psychomanipulation (dream by design) for state/patriotic uses has roots fertilized by hot wars in abeyance, in rehearsal. The elaboration of this insight in the film of course implicates both Mao and Stalin as practitioners-in-chief: true as far is it goes in Korea.(fn 1).*
But the man who’ genius created the story in the first place (Richard Condon – interestingly himself a mid-career defector from the PR/adworld himself) is rightfully absorbed into the doings of image-power in the Cold War (plenty enough material, McCarthy had just been thrust aside): his book is not offered as a history of the technology, merely as snapshot: in fact as very good raconte of forgotten times when Freudian everything was the rage and our political landscape was in a state of hysteria over the Red-ening of Asia. It is quite sufficient as a de-cloaking of psycho-manipulation as mechanized in those first years of Stalin-dread, and on both sides (“brainwashing”, and counter-implant surgery). But it needs perspective.
(1) For an updated list of enormous how-to as well as scholarly literature on the subject of mental manipulative technologies (esp. as related to semiotics): see
I find the best among these to be:
William Leiss (Author), Stephen Kline (Author), Sut Jhally (Author), Jacqueline Botterill (Author) Social Communication in Advertising: Persons, Products and Images of Well-Being (NY/London Routledge 1997)