When we think of propaganda we might only think of old war-time posters and political cartoons, but propaganda is still very prevalent in many contemporary ways that we might not consider. I think propaganda, good and bad, still has a very strong effect on us even more so with the ever rapid evolving internet and internet culture. There is no doubt that the internet has been a game changer for how information is put out into the world, it made it quicker and easier to reach hundreds and thousands of other people with the click of a button. With the internet of course came social media; Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. The internet connected us initially but social media made those connections lasting. How does social media relate back to propaganda? We see them everywhere, sometimes they’re funny or even sad, and lately, increasingly, very political. They’re memes. There is a meme for everything these days. They are the internets propaganda posters. Sure they don’t entice us with a call to action like traditional propaganda (“Uncle Sam Wants You!”, “We Can Do It!”) but they can cause just as much harm as they can create good. While you can find memes that are informative and that display accurate information you can also tumble down a rabbit hole of “fake news”. It is when we don’t do our own due diligence in fact checking the information presented in a shareable picture and we just allow ourselves to become surrounded and inundated with false information that it can become toxic and harmful. Looking back at the last few years and the 2016 American Presidential Election is proof enough that memes and social media and propaganda play roles in our everyday lives. I will be comparing and contrasting two posters, one from pre-World War II and one from post- Trump election. Now both of these posters involve politics and society. They can
(could) promote feelings of change and hope, and they also called out to people— not in the sense of a call to action, but they communicate a message. Both messages being communicated are simple, made up of very few words, and yet they are powerful messages. While these posters are similar in these ways they differ in very important and even subtle ways. Election Poster This election poster comes from Germany in 1938 and is encouraging the viewer, or audience, to vote “Yes!” for Hitler in the German election on April 10th. It was printed in what we now associate as the Nazi colors; red, black, and white. It depicts a group of ten right hands in what we can identify as the Nazi salute, and granted this was the 1930s but these hands are all white and masculine. This is an election poster so it has a call to action, that being for the viewer to go vote for a “Greater Germany” by joining the Nazi’s and voting for Hitler. It is attempting to unify people and to get them to believe in Hitlers plans for a “Greater Germany”. We the People campaign This poster is one of a series created by Shepard Fairey in the wake of the 2016 Trump election. They were initially mass printed in three major American newspapers on January 20th, 2017. This poster, which depicts a muslim woman in red, white, and blue, like the others in the series were forms of protest. In a still deeply divided America this poster sends a message of hope to those who felt/feel that America is now not as “great” as she could and should be. We see a muslim woman wearing an American flag hijab and she is staring right back at us(the audience). Below her the poster reads “We the people are greater than fear”. In an election that was ran rampant with misinformation and fear this was an uplifting message of solidarity for those who felt/feel betrayed by the election outcome. Propaganda in it’s simplest definition is a form of communication that distributes biased information. Like everything else propaganda is not innately bad or good, it is the message that it is trying to spread that defines the propaganda.Today it is imperative that we strive to recognize the truly harmful and negative propaganda.


Savannah L. Haid has an Associates of Applied Science of Graphic Design from Tidewater Community College, and is currently working on her Bachelor’s in Drawing and Design. She is a sensitive soul who enjoys creating, reading, binge watching and taking care of her fur babies. She is just trying to do her best to navigate her way through adulthood, college, and homeownership at the overwhelming age of 24.