Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chinese Propaganda

Whenever I hear the word "propaganda" I always get a negative connotation from it because when I learned the definition of the word, it was in connection to capitalism and the problems it brought. However, propaganda was not only used to further capitalism but also communism. In fact, it appears as if the Chinese government is a genius at using propaganda to further its policies. On a class trip to the Propaganda Museum, we saw a large collection of posters beginning from the 1950s. The images from those first few posters were printed from woodblock cuts, something the Chinese learned from the Soviets. As the posters progressed, the woodblock posters changed to print posters. The message on the posters also changed, depending on what the government thought was the most important issue and needed the people's support on. I noticed that the Cultural Revolution posters were more brightly colored than the posters that came before them. Ironically though, considering that the communists wanted to get rid of all of the old traditions, most of the posters had bright red backgrounds and the print was usually in yellow, the two colors most favored in the Chinese tradition. Besides those posters, we were also shown a series of student declarations denouncing their family, themselves, etc. Even thirty years after the Cultural Revolution has ended, you can still feel the strong emotions those students felt as they were writing their declarations. However, the most amazing thing I saw at the Propaganda Museum was an actual photograph of Mao Zedong. It is not uncommon to see a drawing, painting, or bust of Mao but to see an actual photo, I feel, is quite rare.

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