The use of propaganda is a decade long art that plays an essential role in wartime recruitment, vigilance, persuasion, and even motivation. The propaganda can also be used to instill some of the fear in the general public. In looking at some of the propaganda posters of today and the past, there seems to be something that never changes; that is the intentions remain the same. However for one to understand the message of the propaganda, one would have to look beyond what they see. Propagandist would often seek to drive a more profound message when developing a poster. Therefore, one has to look beyond the surface of the image to understand the message. Throughout history some of the most significant propaganda messages have included the Daddy, what did you do…? And Yes We can. Despite the change in the generations, the message behind propaganda visual has always remained the same.
The poster Daddy what did you do… was the work of British illustrator Savile Lumley and play a significant role in world war one. The purpose of the film was to push men towards enlisting in the war. The poster portrays a man sitting in his house with his children. The daughter seems to be reading a book but looking at his father in a way that suggests that she must have asked him a question (Håkansson 330). She is pointing at something in the book, and this seems to be the question that he is posing to his father. The father appears well groomed and wearing a formal suit. In looking at his dressing, he seems to be a well of working guy. On the floor appears to be a young boy probably his son. He seems to be playing with effigies of the soldier and a canon. Then comes the message below the image “Daddy what did you do in the Great War?
The message that comes out of the poster is that a man is not the only one that sits in the house with his children. He needs to get out there and do something about the war. The focus of this poster was to get men to enlist in the world war. The creator was seeking to tell these men that in the future they would be questioned by their children for not just staying at some at taking care of the family but for the contribution of the war. Thus men would be compelled to get out and take part in the war.
We can do it
The propaganda shows a woman that is dressed in some form of work uniform flexing her muscles. Flexing of muscles is normally seen as an activity the men are engaged in. However, in this case, it is a woman doing it, and this seems to say that women should get out and do something that is beyond the standard (Foley). The message at the top is quite clear, “We Can Do It.” The message here is that women can do the things that they have never been able to do or those though not to be the place of women.
The J Howard Miller created the poster in 1943. The primary purposes of the signs were to initially help the women in the Westinghouse Electric company that they can do even more. It was aimed at boosting the morale of the women that were already working with the company. However, in the later years, it moved from the company and became a national figure of inspiration. During the 80s the image was rediscovered and used to promote feminism (Håkansson 330). During this period the women were being argued to get out and have their voices heard. It was time for women to be a part of the change in society (Foley). The message in the poster is that women should not be afraid of men since they also have the same strength. If the men can flex their muscles, then the women have some advantage. However, for their voices to be heard, they need to do something.
It is evident that propaganda messages have been an essential part of society. The use of propaganda does not seem to have changed over the years. They still play the critical role of conveying some massage and pushing people to engage in something. In this era of social media, the use of propaganda visual has taken a different approach, especially with the memes. However, they still carry the underlying characteristics. In the two posters that we have looked at it is evident that they all try to convey some message to the targeted population. The focus of the first poster was to get men to participate in the world war, while the second one was seeking to tell women that they need to get out and be part of society. They should not fear the roles that women take because they have the energy to do it.
Foley, Connor. “An analysis of American propaganda in World War II and the Vietnam War.” (2015).
Håkansson, Nicklas, Bengt Johansson, and Orla Vigsø. “From propaganda to image building: Four phases of Swedish election poster history.” Election Posters Around the Globe. Springer, Cham, 2017. 319-337.