A wealthy scion of an American dynasty is using his media knowledge and Hollywood connections to lobby power players to insert subtle liberal messages into movies and TV shows by manipulating their storylines. This is not propaganda, apparently.

The NYT today details the work of The Harmony Institute, founded by Buzzfeed co-founder and Robert Wood Johnson descendant John Johnson. Its purpose is to use "the science of influence" to help move Hollywood away from "blatant message movies" and towards more subtle productions that use action, adventure, and a compelling story to conceal their underlying message of, for example, environmentalism or net neutrality.

Okay, fine! His politics are good. He is engaged in propaganda for a good cause. Or...not?

The marketplace, [Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center for the study of entertainment and society] said, generally keeps entertainment from becoming too didactic. "Audiences can smell propaganda a mile away," he wrote.

We totally can! This is propaganda. Sometimes admitting it will distract your target audience from their own ongoing manipulation. Try it!

[NYT. Pic: Shutterstock]