14 – Subliminal Messages: Wait… Did You Hear Something?

Wendy returns from vacation to join Mike in a discussion about subliminal messages in television, movies, and music.

A way of delivering information to a person without the need to be persuasive or convincing, subliminal messages bypass the logical decision-making part of the brain and go directly to the subconscious mind. This can be done by playing a sub-audible recording, or through the use of a technique called back-masking where the message is played backwards.
Numerous examples of subliminal messaging in pop culture:
  • Actor Matt Frewer played Max Headroom in a sci-fi show called “Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into the Future” (which happened to be one of Mike’s favorites!). In the story, people were exposed to “blipverts”, advertising delivered in quick bursts, and which eventually ended up killing people.
  • An urban legend that theater owners used subliminal advertising for the snack bar by flashing images of soft drinks and popcorn throughout the movies.
  • The part of the movie “Fight Club” where a ch aracter splices images of pornography into the film at a movie theater.
  • For the 2000 election, George Bush ran campaign ads wherein the word BEAUROCRATS was flashed across the screen with the RATS part of the word in emphasis.
  • Miller Lite had an ad campaign with “this message was brought to you by Dick”. The phrase was autographed by Dick, and the word actually looked like “Drink” when closely examined.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Bart joins a boy band that uses subliminal messages to recruit kids for the Navy.
  • Actor/comedian Kevin Nealon played “Subliminal Message Man”, a character in a Saturday Night Live skit who slipped subliminal messages into every day conversations.
  • The UK parliament banned the use of subliminal messaging in advertisements.
  • Ozzy Osborne’s song “Suicide Solution”, about alcohol, allegedly contained the phrase, “Why try? Get the gun and shoot!”. When he was sued by the parents of a teen who committed suicide, he claimed the audio was “Get the flaps out”.
  • The song, “Better By You, Better Than Me”¬†recorded by Judas Priest, contained subliminal message “Do it!” and also resulted in a law suit. However, the judge ¬†found that subliminal messages are not speech that’s covered by the First Amendment. This is now precedent.
  • “Love Bites” by Def Leppard has a robot voice at the end that some believe says “Jesus of Nazareth, go to hell”.
  • The Beatles also used the back masking technique in many songs, including “I buried Paul” at the end of Strawberry Fields.
  • EXAMPLE AUDIO: Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” contains a backwards “sleep with me, I’m not too young”.
  • EXAMPLE AUDIO – Decide for yourself: Queen’s song “Another One Bites the Dust” contains several backwards “Decide to smoke marijuana”
  • EXAMPLE AUDIO – Decide for yourself: Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” contains a backwards “Here’s to my sweet satan”
Scientific studies from the 1950s showed that subliminal messaging in movies did not work. However, newer studies within the past decade have shown that we can be influenced by things we cannot perceive. You can decide for yourself by listening to our song below…

Featured Song: The Long Hammer

Share your thoughts on this episode!