November 28 2022 7:52 AM E-paper Subscribe Sign in My Account Sign out

How to boost Jordanian morale : A lesson from Hollywood

Ruba Saqr
Ruba Saqr has reported on the environment, worked in the public sector as a communications officer, and served as managing editor of a business magazine, spokesperson for a humanitarian INGO, and as head of a PR agency. (File photo: Jordan News)
Several pro-government opinion writers have recently written articles denouncing those who spread their bleak outlook, framing them as if they were the enemies of Jordan’s success. This kind of messaging has turned into an accusatory mantra, with public officials promising “not to be broken” by the epidemic of pessimism, which can be seen everywhere, from mainstream media to people’s private conversations.اضافة اعلان

But that is not an effective way to improve the national mood. To boost a person’s — or in this case, a nation’s — levels of optimism, Jordanian public leaders need to focus on the positive, not the negative. Telling people, “you are sour pessimists, and we won’t allow your cynicism into the public discourse,” is futile. Worse still, it antagonizes people and creates a further rift between government and citizens.

Scolding people without taking responsibility for the government’s role in the mental state we are in today will only serve to reaffirm the negative feelings of Jordanians and deepen the public’s demoralized frame of mind while inadvertently bringing out their stubbornness.

Rather than inspiring the “doubters” to adopt a more positive attitude, the government is unintentionally putting them on the defensive, making discouraged individuals want to dig in their heels even more by reiterating their negativity.

To illustrate, some opinion writers have recently defended their right to negativity in a bid to differentiate themselves from authority figures, whom they think have failed the Jordanian people time and again on critical dossiers like water, transparent governance, domestic violence, social injustice, the erosion of the middle class, and the deterioration in the quality of life.

The government cannot build trust — and look credible while doing so — if it keeps on antagonizing the nation by suggesting Jordanians are in the wrong to feel helpless and disengaged.

Whether they are young Jordanians looking for inspiration in the adults around them, including parents and teachers who mistreat and abuse them as shown in recent studies, or older citizens who understand how the world works but have faced an avalanche of disappointment throughout their lives, the state offers neither a convincing and consistent narrative that could instill positivity in them.

It seems the government is unable to foster open channels of communication with citizens of all socioeconomic backgrounds — not just the private sector and the elite — and it is also clueless about building national morale.

Jordan has many positives to build on; that is not in question. But when people are demoralized, it is impossible to see the cup as half full. A depressed person, or a low-spirited group of people, will never be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel without professional help and a steady stream of moral support.

Jordan needs government officials who are credible, honest, and inspiring. We need discerning leaders with an intuitive understanding of human nature who can capitalize on the Jordanian people’s undeniable resilience — to inspire hope, motivation, and excellence in them.
Scolding people without taking responsibility for the government’s role in the mental state we are in today will only serve to reaffirm the negative feelings of Jordanians and deepen the public’s demoralized frame of mind while inadvertently bringing out their stubbornness.
That said, motivated economic, political, and social leaders are not enough. They will have to create a host of emotionally intelligent morale-building communication tools and products to transform the collective consciousness of Jordanians across the board.

In this context, the word “collective” does not imply a single, flat message for all. Every target audience needs a special set of key messages that correspond with their state of mind and emotional expectations.

How Hollywood shapes public attitudes
Before the age of political correctness and its newest version of “cancel culture”, action films, like Rambo, brainwashed Americans and the world with their crude notions of American superiority. The psychological impact of the invincible, white, macho man — who emerged unscathed despite a maelstrom of bullets from enemy machine guns — was unparalleled.

In an era marred with unchecked chauvinistic and sexist attitudes, Rambo’s five movies proved to be an unequivocal success in shaping the world and domestic attitudes about the US. The movie and its sequels made sure not to show viewers the uglier face of America. Systematic racism against Black people, for instance, was left out of the narrative in a movie that idealized US power by constructing a larger-than-life portrayal of the North American republic.

This overdramatized depiction is rooted in historic facts. The US’ belated involvement in World War II had a defining role in Europe’s victory. While this information may get old and boring with time, a Hollywood action thriller that engages the viewers’ emotions and senses is certainly more enduring.

While the Republicans in the current American landscape are stuck in the past century and remain more attached to war-driven images of supremacy, Democrats and progressives have reimagined their country’s public image.

Liberal TV and film producers have kept up with the times to maintain the same message of “American greatness” by using modernized politically-correct language that appeals to a younger generation. In today’s “woke” culture, the liberals have opted for a more humanized image of the US, as they chose to paint the underdog as this era’s hero.

For example, TV political dramas like Madame Secretary offer viewers a contemporary image of the US. Representing a once-alienated segment of society (i.e., women), the fictitious character of Elizabeth McCord, played by American actress Téa Leoni, is a former CIA analyst and political science professor who becomes the US secretary of state due to her unmatched level of humanity.

This thoughtful and loveable female politician has the heart, humanity, and insight to steer the world (not just the US) from the brink of chaos and collapse. She is rehabilitating the image of the CIA and real-life women politicians (especially in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s numerous mishaps, especially in Libya).

The TV show has succeeded in offering viewers a modern-day version of American omnipotence through a feminist figure that encapsulates the spirit and agenda of the “leaders of the free world”, a phrase that is mentioned repeatedly in the course of the show’s six seasons.

We do not have to mimic the American experience to the letter, but we need morale-building rooted in our unique story as a nation.

Jordan needs experienced and insightful strategists who understand psychology and morale and know how to change public perceptions through art, film, television, theater, advertisement, design, and other communication tools.

Optimism cannot happen organically or on its own; it needs motivational leaders and storytellers who know how to inspire a chronically demoralized nation to believe in itself and its future.


Ruba Saqr has reported on the environment, worked in the public sector as a communications officer, and served as managing editor of a business magazine, spokesperson for a humanitarian INGO, and as head of a PR agency.


Read more Opinion and Analysis
Jordan News