The EU has never been good for anything really, but I always thought I could count on them to put out decent propaganda. Now I'm not so sure.
Yes, the European Commission may be vacuous, parasitic, and autocratic. It may control everything from who your country's prime minster will be (if you are Greek or Italian) to the money you use and the correct shape and size of fruit.
But public relations? Flawless. Consider the marketing genius in choosing the melody of Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" as the EU national anthem, set to Latin lyrics (Latin!), evoking the glorious heyday when Caesar ruled the motherland. Here's the final verse: Cives, floreat Europa / Opus magnum vocat vos / Stellae signa sunt in caelo / Aureae, quae iungant nos. Translation: Citizens, Europe will flourish / A great task calls on to you / The stars in the night sky / Are the symbols that unite us.
A true touch of poetry: Steve Jobs would have been proud.
Now, after turning a generation off Beethoven, the Commission has focused their Utopian energies on turning a new generation off science. With the euro zone ravaged by a debt crisis and recession, one problem looms over all the rest: not enough women are voluntarily choosing to study science.
The “Science: It’s A Girl Thing” campaign appears to target feminine sensibilities by fusing images of women sassing up on make-up and high heels with other images of laboratory implements like goggles, beakers and microscopes.
Watching this film, I was forcibly reminded of the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov's experiment on conditioned reflexes. During these experiments, carried out on dogs, Pavlov would ring a bell and while feeding the dogs. After repeatedly doing this to form the association between the bell and food, eventually Pavlov could ring the bell and the dog would come running, expecting to be fed. There seems to be a similar approach (with a similar level of condescension) towards this catastrophic fusion of science and sex.
While no doubt interesting from a psychological point of view, as a film it fails on so many fronts. Let's do a quick break down.
The scene opens on a grumpy looking male peering into a microscope. Three women walk onto the scene (with lingering shots on their footwear) and strike a catwalk pose in front of him. Looking up from his microscope, puzzled, the man puts on his glasses. The message is clear: science is nerdy and male-dominated. But not now!
It continues with a post-modern pastiche of lipstick, a Bunsen Burner, and one of the other women strutting back and forth, giggling. Science is fun! Another shot at 0:17 shows one of them doing algebra on a glass screen, combined at 0:19 with the silhouette of one of the other girls dancing, rather like the opening of a Bond movie. Algebra is sexy! After some more frolicking around the laboratory we see progressively more rapid shots of atoms and exploding powder, but then it slows down as a make-up brush loaded with blue powder miraculously morphs into fibre optic lights.
All this leads up to the crucial moment when they take off their sunglasses in unison and put it on the table. Hey presto! They turn into lab goggles, which the girls put back on while the catchphrase appears: It’s a Girl Thing!
In the space of less than a minute, this film manages not only to insult science, but most women too. I would personally extend that to men as well, but never mind. I can already hear the sanctimonious complaints about how women are “pressured” into caring only about their looks, so we need to take “collective action” to “change attitudes.” Women should resist these attempts to patronize them and insult their intelligence.
The fact that such a witless piece of nonsense was put out at a time like this pretty much sums up the present condition of the EU: impossibly bloated, disconnected, subservient to every special interest group, devoted to the ideology that government has the right to prod, poke, nudge and coerce its citizens and member states until they measure up to an ever changing vision of a perfect society.
Like Prussia, the Soviet Union and the British Empire, it is looking increasingly likely that the European Union, along with its flag and national anthem will very soon take its place in the museum of failed empires. Until then, I hope all liberty-minded Europeans will wake up and see this Union for what it really is.