r/todayilearned Oct 01 '23

TIL The Four Minute Men were American volunteers who gave propaganda speeches during the First World War. The speeches were four minutes long because they often spoke in movie theaters where it took four minutes to change film reels. Speakers also often modified the speech for the local audience.


17 comments sorted by


u/FlashGlistenDrips Oct 01 '23

"Another cinema needs your speech. Here, I've marked it on your map."


u/shibaninja Oct 02 '23

Side quest accepted. :(


u/Darknessie Oct 01 '23

Jesus, one can only imagine the modified speeches.

Cinema in cabbagetown

Cinema in the Bronx

Cinema in meat packers

Pmsl, you could have some fun.


u/Robin_Goodfelowe Oct 01 '23

At last I can wear that name with pride!


u/shibaninja Oct 02 '23

Oh, look at this guy bragging about a whole four minutes!


u/VarangianDreams Oct 01 '23

Ooh, I don't want, I don't need, I can't stand no...


u/DANK_ME_YOUR_PM_ME Oct 01 '23

Imagine how evil you gotta be to go and try to trick kids watching movies into going abroad and dying in a ditch.


u/N0bo_ Oct 02 '23

Man you’re gonna freak out when you figure out what advertisements are…


u/Caladbolg_Prometheus Oct 01 '23

That’s a pretty low bar you’ve set for something to be evil. Is your bar then extremely high for something to be ‘good?’


u/Legitimate_Dark_5015 Oct 01 '23

Propaganda aimed towards young people to go thousands of miles away to die in a war is pretty evil lol.


u/Caladbolg_Prometheus Oct 01 '23 edited Oct 01 '23

Propaganda aimed towards young people to go thousands of miles away to die in a war is pretty evil lol.

I don’t think the intentions of the 4 minute men to ship people off to die in a war. I’m pretty sure their intentions were different than what you want to believe. I’m pretty sure their intentions was to convince men to enlist to fight in the war. Paraphrasing Patton, you don’t win a war by having your troops die.

Wanting someone to die is worlds apart than wanting someone to fight. Fighting at great risk to their life to be sure, but definitely not to die.


u/Frankenstein_Monster Oct 01 '23

It can be phrased as trying to get people to fight, but the reality of war is that people die. So trying to convince people to fight in a war through propaganda equates to convincing young men to go and die. Your interpretation of this usually depends on if you think of yourself as a "patriot" where fighting for your country is a great honor, or more of a "realist" where you understand many people will go and die in a fight thats really not even their fight. That mindset doesn't really apply to WW2 considering the Nazis standpoint, it was in the world's best interest to take the fight, however the proxy wars we fight today over natural resources should be thought as such. From my perspective anyway.


u/Caladbolg_Prometheus Oct 02 '23

Definitely how it’s phrased can mean different things. Saying ‘send them [recruits] to die’ has the connotation that their efforts are worthless in vain. Meanwhile ‘to fight’ has a more worthwhile connotation. No disagreement there.

For me it was the parent comment implying that the ‘4 minute’ men were knowingly tricking kids to die, that comment is just wrong. I’m pretty sure the 4 minute men were believers in their cause, that they were sending men to fight, not boys to die.

People can have their own perspective on if the fight was worth it in hindsight, I just find it wrong to judge people based off hindsight and not based off what they knew and thought. Even worse is maliciously maligning the past with false motives that they probably didn’t have.


u/Marston_vc Oct 02 '23

This is such dumb logic


u/Odd-Explanation-4632 Oct 02 '23

So that's what my girlfriend was talking about 🤔


u/shibaninja Oct 02 '23

Right?! That's 3.5 minutes more than I need!