I was really intrigued by this image of the Statue of Liberty located in Tehran. I think it would be safe to say it frightened me. I am not naive. I realize the deep-seeded hate toward the United States around the world, probably the most in all of its history. But it frightens me because I am reminded of the just what people hating the United States can mean. It is the reason why I am always slightly scared when I get on a subway in NYC. It is a hyperawareness that terror attacks are real. Saying that seems so foreign to me, because I hate when those in power use fear to control the masses, but this fear is actually real. It is clear that the people in Tehran see the United States as an oppressive force. It is quite interesting because the same could be said about anyone who commits an act of terror. As Americans we have given up a bit of our freedom because of the threat of an attack. We have given up personal freedoms in the name of security but we have also given up our freedoms of expression, as seen with the recent release of the Interview. I found it frightening that we were so eager to listen to threats of terror. Instead of condemning those threats, we gave in. At the same time, the United States threatens other nations all the time. So why is it different? I guess it is because acts of terror hurt everyday people, no matter what country they are in. This is bothersome because it is not everyday people in a country that create war, condemn other governments, generate coups or infringe on other nations’ freedoms. It is extremism and ideologies that create this fear, that create this hate, weather that be someone in the United States, France, Iran or Afghanistan or any other country. It is so easily forgotten that we are all humans. We all want the same things: a good life, success, love and safety.
With that being said, this image struck me so much because of its similarities between an Italian propaganda poster from World War II. It reads, “behold the liberators.”
Propaganda posters are fascinating. They are pure proof of the use of fear to turn nations against each other. This particular poster is one of my favorites because it caused me to begin to question my own government’s intentions in the world. It is important to realize The United States is not perfect, it is not the best place on earth to live. America has its own problems to address, severe issues we must grapple with before we condemn or tell another nation what to do. Since when did we decide what was moral and ethical? The city on a hill is a myth. Once the United States accepts that this too is propaganda and comes to terms with its own hypocrisy and myth, maybe we can begin to reconcile our relationships around the world. Maybe we can begin to stand for something just again, if we ever did.
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Z. P. Nikolaki. “Hello! This is Liberty speaking.” 1918. Lithograph. 30.5 x 22.5 cm.
This poster from WW1 goes off of the ideas of Lady Liberty being representative of the nation, and that she is something we need to protect by going to war. Without the writing to tell you “this is liberty speaking”, Lady Liberty is easily recognizable by her unique crown. Instead of a picture of the statue, she is a young beautiful woman. In this case freedom isn’t free, and money is needed to protect liberty and America. The ad plays on patriotism by using the image of Lady Liberty to gain support and money for the war effort.
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PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW ONE OF THESE TWO IMAGINARY ICONS, SYMBOLIC OF AMERICA, REFLECTS ISSUES OF MASCULINITY OR FEMININITY IN MID-20TH CENTURY AMERICA.
Following America’s entry into World War Two, a new form of industrial labour was needed to meet the production demand, especially since large numbers of men who once worked in the factories had been sent to fight overseas. The U.S. government therefore launched a propaganda campaign to encourage women to join the workforce and the fictional character “Rosie the Riveter” was born.
In order to attract females to roles which were previously male-exclusive and promote the new “ideal” woman, 1940s Rosie blurred the gender line. In J. Howard Millers 1942 depiction, she retained her female sex appeal with a heavily made-up face, styled hair and slim figure. Yet, she was also the embodiment of strength as she flexed her muscles and she oozed confidence with her intense gaze, under the caption, “We can do it!” Women all around the country were drawn to this simple image as it convinced them that they could be beautiful and still be capable of participating in the war effort without feeling guilty about being a working mother. A lesser known portrayal is Norman Rockwell’s 1943 cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Again, Rockwell’s Rosie had some feminine features such as her nail polish, compact and sandwich (which could be interpreted as a nod to her domestic side and traditional female role). However, in this version Rosie was even more masculine than she was a year earlier. For example, her muscular arms were ridiculously oversized, she now had a powerful piece of machinery resting on her lap and her clothes were dirty to remind viewers of the demanding jobs she was now doing thanks to the war. Here, the message appeared to be that husbands on the battlefield would take pride in their wives if they weren’t afraid to get stuck in and do their bit; after all, the war would end sooner if more women worked.
“Rosie the Riveter” had a great impact on 20th century America. While husbands were at war in Europe, their wives occupied almost every aspect of industry and the number of women in the workforce increased by 57% between 1940 and 1944. While working conditions and pay were not always equal to what men enjoyed (and many women were laid off when the war ended), the experience of working outside the home allowed them the opportunity to prove their worth to the male-dominated American society and it gave them a permanent sense of empowerment. Therefore, it is not surprising that Rosie has since become a feminist icon as well as one of the great American icons.
Alana Johnston (QUB)
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This is the poster for the American film ‘I Married A Communist’, made in 1949, which told the story of Nan Lowry, a woman who unknowingly married a former communist. Her husband thought he had quit the party years ago, but the Communist party leaders seek him out, indicating that it is impossible to escape Communism, once you have been ‘infected’ by it. The film was used as propaganda to show the evils of Communism to the American people, in order to convince them that it must be fought and destroyed. This poster demonstrates anti-Communism in 1949 (before the height of the Cold War) as the film portrayed the perceived dangers of Communism on a capitalist society. It also demonstrated the lingering American fear that many Americans may be communist, without other people knowing – Nan did not know her husband had ever been a communist and this put her in danger. The US government produced propaganda in the form of short clips particularly, as people did not know how to spot a potential communist who posed a threat to society, as the film demonstrates. However, the name had to be changed as it was unpopular, so it was eventually released as ‘The Woman on Pier 13’.
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