CT&D #44. Propaganda Through Visuals

What is the message that this propaganda piece below is trying to convey visually? Is it successful in doing so? Does it inflict fear or pride? What is the story?

I feel that the image provided conveys a sense of intimidation, most likely due to the powerful reputation and enormity of the communist Chinese government under Mao Zedong’s rule (he is shown in the background). Although it’s somewhat unclear as to what the lying man is holding in his hand or what he is even on top of (maybe he’s clenching a book and is on an anvil?), I can tell that the figure above him is restraining him from his actions.

If restraining in this sense means preventing the man from reading or engaging in everyday life liberally, then this premise would make sense since the propaganda poster should highlight Mao and his government as being harsh and one that undermines free speech; the fact that the big figure with the red apron (a color synonymous with communism) is pointing outward with Mao in the background seems to bring to attention what people shouldn’t do (if the Chinese caption on the right says anything about this) and who people should look to embrace (or perhaps fear) in face of the culture of that era in China.

A specific fear in this piece is especially highlighted by the man being restrained by what looks like a clamp; more so, fear is ever present in the red color of the font as it visually portrays a seriously overwhelming power and gives forth to a bold identity associated with a communist government for those who look at this poster plastered between towns, countryside villages, and cities across China is that was probably likely done to spread awareness of the propaganda’s message.

Moving on to less dramatic fare, here are 2 very famous propaganda pieces that use an excellent combination of typography (to demonstrate keen presentation and emphasis on a simplistic message and straightforward tone) as well as composition (to support what is “said” visually, also in tone, mood, or even through exaggerated feelings for what someone really is meant to portray to the viewers in terms of overall purpose – purpose that can be felt and perhaps, acted on by onlookers sold by the propaganda piece):

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