«I like propaganda,» said my little brother one day, quite a few years ago. He had been downloading old propaganda films and posters from the internet. As he just a few weeks before had proclaimed that he thought we should make false statistics and more censorship on the telly, I got a bit worried.
Fortunately, the wish for false statistics turned out to be one of his finer traits. He had observed how the girls in his class used statistic average weight as a reason for why they wanted to diet, and along with the extreme makeover programs that had entered tv that year, they had started to talk almost obsessively about how they wanted to change their appearance. Of course he wanted to forbid the extreme makeover programs, when they resulted in fourteen year old girls who yearned for liposuction and wanted to “give their breasts a little lift”. And, as he said, – “I think it does them more damage to go funny in the head because they think they are fat and abnormal, than to be a little thicker than what’s average, or even what’s healthy.”
But back to the propaganda he’d been downloading. He said he liked the buzz that it gave him, and of course I instinctively replied that “sometimes it’s a bad buzz”, cause good propaganda can help to create goodwill for bad causes. Then he god me hooked. He showed me American “pay taxes”-propaganda from the second world war, and yes. It gave me the urge to pay taxes, and it gave me the urge to defeat nazi germany. Of course it also made me wonder why we don’t make our own tax-paying posters, to make people understand why a severely progressive taxation is good for society. Of course, the Nazi propaganda has pretty much the same effect on me, after all: who doesn’t want a society that stands together to protect what’s good, a society with happy families and healthy children? My mind has horrible connotations related to nazi germany, but in a way, it’s the fact that films and posters gives me this positive buzz, that fascinates me. That it manages to make me want to be a part, that it gives me a feeling that I should contribute, even to causes which I don’t agree with. That’s really impressive craftsmanship.
Break virgin lands!
It’s rather fascinating that the breaking of the virgin lands above, which gives me such a lovely buzz in my tummy, is related to the ecological disaster of the Aral sea that shrunk to nothingness because the rivers leading into it was used for irrigation. There was a Russian slogan that went along the lines of «The aral sea must die like a soldier fighting for our new motherland». Sounds beautyful, doesn’t it? Even though it’s pretty horrible in real life.
There is an amazing blog that posts old Soviet propaganda posters, and gives you the historical background information to understand them, and a little daily Russian history tidbit to match. Incredibly fun reading. I recommend: this one about railroads, this one, this one and this one about physical health and this one about agriculture. Another fun thing is how you could just replace the red cross on this one with a swastica, and it would have been perfect for hte nazi market, although she should replace those russian blushing cheeks with a healthy german tan.
Final credit: I found the posterblog through Ida, which is what started the whole propagandistic flashback process.