Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Propagandas Speak Louder than Words

I loved the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center. I have always believed that propagandas are the most influential and persuasive forms of communication. They are so powerful that they can sway the whole country and that country's way of life. I remember as soon as I landed in Shanghai or Beijing and starting walking through the streets, I realized propaganda still exists strongly in China. Mao's pictures appear to be everywhere you turn. His power still lives on strongly today despite the other leaders that followed. I found this to be so interesting because that is not the case in the U.S. We don't post pictures of past presidents everywhere and idolize them as part of our everyday lives. This is still an unsolved mystery to me. This fascination and idolization that seems to live on forever. After looking at these propaganda posters, I realized that propagandas were perhaps one of the main driving tools that in the past helped China foster unanimous thinking and bring the country together under one desired reaction.

It was very interesting how during especially the Maoist period, the foreign powers were depicted as evil wolves getting stomped on, getting pushed off a cliff, etc. Not only did specific characterizations of entities foster the desired reaction from the people but also, the use of size and color were effective as well. For instance, during the Big Leap Forward, a Chinese worker/peasant was on a big, robust horse while a UK person was sitting weakly on a small black bull. Furthermore, during the Cultural Revolution, a quick glance at the propaganda posters made it clear that there was a lot of red everywhere to foster the support for Communism under Mao's rule.

But my personal favorite were the Dazibao posters. They say actions speak louder than words. And this was a fantastic example. The description of such posters: "Soaked wit blood and tears" could not have described these posters any better. Because the posters' intent were to denounce or criticize somebody according to Mao's ideas, these Dazibao posters emitted an aura of great anger and even fear. Fear seemed to show strongest through the double written pieces. The boldness of the responder/challenger as well as the fear of getting caught in action could be seen clearly through these posters. These posters made China's history come to life in my mind. China's history no longer remained as something I had just read about in books and lectures.

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