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Political Persuasion

A college student's perspective on the two crazy worlds of PR and politics

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Cold War

Cold War Propaganda and Comics

Above is a political pamphlet published in 1947 by the Catechetical Guild Education Society of St. Paul, Minnesota. At just ten cents a copy, this pamphlet features a full-color comic and advice on how to “fight communism with ten commandments of citizenship.”  Approximately four million copies were printed and distributed to church groups throughout the country (http://writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/is-this-tomorrow.html).

I cannot help but wonder how this political pamphlet would be perceived today.  I remember having a discussion in one of my classes last year about how many Americans are desensitized to the media.  It takes a lot to convince us, and sometimes, we do not take threats seriously, until it actually happens.

The period from 1947-1953 marks the beginning of the Cold War–from the Truman Doctrine to the Korean War.  I find this pamphlet interesting because it appealed to a niche market — churchgoers.  The pamphlet, like many YouTube videos and online forums went viral, in a sense, and created a stir among Americans nationwide.

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Superpowers and Superheroes

As I was perusing potential topics for my upcoming communication theory paper, I came across David Crowley’s book, Posters of the Cold War.  I was immediately drawn to the front cover, which features a poster by Polish artist Roman Cieslewicz (depicted above). Side by side stand two nearly identical superheroes.  The only differentiating factor is the logo on their chests (one represents the USA while the other represents the USSR).

“In the iconoclastic political atmosphere of the 1960s, many radicals were highly critical of the USA and the USSR. The superpowers were accused of exercising a destructive influence on the rest of the world and of betraying their own origins in revolutions motivated by high ideals.” – David Crowley

Before reading this book, I thought critically about Cold War propaganda from two major perspectives:

1. The media that were used to criticize Soviet ideology and promote American values.

or

2. The media that were used to criticize American values and support the Soviet ideology.

I realized I neglected an alternative perspective that is critical of both the United States and the Soviet Union.  There was a widely held belief (as portrayed in Cieslewicz’s 1968 Superman poster) that both superpowers exercised a destructive and disproportional influence over the rest of the world.

Superman, which was featured as the cover design for the Paris-based left-wing art magazine Opus International, essentially mocked the “war of ideals” between the two superpowers.  Cieslewicz ironically portrays the flaws in both nations through the depiction of strong, heroic figures.

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