I’m late to the party on this most excellent Last Week Tonight segment on surveillance, Edward Snowden, and whether, right now, a US government employee is looking at your dick pics.
The whole segment is well worth watching, but for anyone interested in a really powerful example of effective political communication watch from the point I’ve cued up below.
The difficulty with massive world-shattering revelations about complex technical programmes is that most people, like John Oliver says, simply don’t care. And even I, a politics nerd with serious concerns about government surveillance and privacy in the internet age, didn’t really have much of a grasp on the kinds of specifics Snowden and others are talking about.
Until John Oliver created – or rather, uncovered – the Dick Pic Programme.
People have incredibly busy lives and a huge number of demands on their attention. They need a reason to engage with serious, complex political issues. One of the things the anti-TPPA movement has been really good at is giving those reasons: it’s about Pharmac, and the cost of medicine. It’s about our government being sued for raising the minimum wage.
We on the left have a tendency to get a bit jargon-y. The right understand how this works. That’s why we’ve still got leftwingers talking up the importance of quantitative easing to anyone who’ll listen while John Key sits back and sneers “well you can’t just print money.”
On surveillance, on the economy, on any important issue of our time: we can’t keep repeating our very-clever thoroughly-detailed proposals which put everyone else to sleep.
We have to find the dick pic that makes people pay attention. So to speak.