Propaganda, the ‘art’ of politics

The subject that I wanted to create a story about was propaganda, using visual images for political means.  I thought this would be a great topic to explore in a short video because the pictures largely speak for themselves, which is the entire point of propaganda.   As an educational tool, this would be invaluable in teaching about propaganda, the pictures simply speak for themselves.  You can read extensively about propaganda pieces such as these, but it isn’t really possible to grasp their impact until you can experience the visual image yourself.  It is true that pictures are worth a thousand words, and in this case you almost don’t need any words.  I deliberately selected several images and didn’t provide a translation because the power of the image makes the translation almost irrelevant.

Animoto proved relatively easy to use, I didn’t experience any major technical difficulties with it.  At first I was really hampered by the text limitations, it impeded my ability to annotate the posters.  I felt like I was writing a volume of propaganda haiku.  In the end, though, I embraced the idea and grew to like the speed at which the images zoomed by.  If you were seeing one of these images on the street or in a magazine ad, you probably wouldn’t have a lot of time to stare and process the image.  These posters are meant to convey their message as quickly as possible to the viewer, and so the quick format actually enhanced the educational value of the video, I felt.  It also taught me that there is value in moderating my commentary and when working in a digital medium sometimes its best to let the images do the ‘talking.’

Video can be found here
One small warning, I used some anti-American, Soviet and Nazi posters in this, which might be something to keep in mind if you want to view in a public place.

Category: W5: Animoto
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3 Responses
  1. cwarburton says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    I just viewed your video and I think the subject was great for this assignment. I wish I could have looked at the pictures longer, but that’s Animoto I guess. Not having a lot of words to use really worked in your case because it forced me to look at the pictures. Also wondered whether you experimented with music and what kind of effect it would have had on the subject matter to have something more somber sounding.

  2. rsibaja says:

    Rebecca,
    I really enjoyed the marriage of music and imagery. During my master’s program I wrote on British portrayals of the Kaiser during WWI, and also used posters during my units on both world wars in my world history and European history courses. It is a rich subject.

    As an overall primer on propaganda posters, your video succeeded very well. Your themes really highlighted the multiple uses of these posters, and your text helped sharpen these purposes for the viewer. Also, you used a nice variety, including several countries. Did you consider using posters from this day in age? Or were shooting for a mid-20th Century timeframe?

    The only recommendation would be to focus on less uses of propaganda posters, and then go deeper on the few selected topics that make the cut. The feedback I consistently received from students was that (for example) my Italian, French, and British posters-on questioning “manhood” during the wars if you didn’t serve-were great; but, students wanted to see more posters on that same topic from Japan, Russia, US, Germany, etc. In essence, they wanted to see a wide variety per topic. The gender ones were always very popular, and the fear-mongering were the attention getters (especially WWI posters depicting German atrocities on the Belgians).

    Good job!

  3. gcheong says:

    I think the topic is a great one, however Animoto limited our ability to work with the images. Putting Soviet versus American side by side would heighten the comparative aspect and the character limits (while understandable not to be too word heavy) places an arbitrary restriction on word use.