Movie review: ‘Programming the Nation?’

Documentarian Jeff Warrick’s “Programming the Nation?” is profoundly disturbing, as ambitious as it is provocative. In the wake of 9/11, Warrick, who has held various jobs in the advertising industry, began to ponder the role of the media in affecting current events and shaping people’s lives. As a result he ended up spending seven years making this film, a history of subliminal messaging and an examination of the various ways and techniques media, government and industry influence the way people eat, think and behave.

Drawing upon interviews with two dozen experts, Warrick probes subliminal stimuli in TV commercials, product placement in films and TV shows, and points out that various filmmakers, most notably Alfred Hitchcock — have employed subliminal techniques in their work. That the advertising industry is manipulative is hardly news. But Warrick finds subliminal messaging in political campaigns, military operations and even in the music played in big box stores.

Warrick is also rightly concerned by the power of media conglomerates to manipulate the news.

There seems to be no end to the malaise that can be ascribed to the emergence of an Orwellian society.


“Programming the Nation?” No MPAA rating. Running time” 1 hour, 45 minutes. At Laemmle’s Sunset 5, West Hollywood.