Effectiveness Of WWII Propaganda

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By 1941 the Japanese had intended to destroy American fleets in order for them to gain access to natural resources and expand into Asia and the Pacific. As a result, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 leaving the U.S. with no choice but to join the Allied powers (Britain, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Soviet Union, and China) whom they were helping since the beginning of the war with supplying military aid through the establishment of the Lend Lease Act.

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During this time, America used a variety of methods to provide a black and white view of foreign countries with half-truths and misleading information. Propaganda displayed messages to help shape the American people’s attitude towards the enemy populace and towards friendly nations, as well as to establish moral forces on the homefront. Some of the most effective methods that portrayed these perspectives were by bringing the message through posters, short films, comic books, and cartoons. Through this the public was being brainwashed to help sway support for the moral actions of the government during this breaking point in history.

Propaganda was widely used in various ways as a driving force to create tension and shape mental attitudes of American citizens about enemy populace. Artists had stereotyped and deceived information about their opponent which was then took by the government to make certain aspects blow out of proportion to instill hatred. In the 1942 This is the Enemy (Fig. 1) poster, the illustrator circulates around the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This dark portrayal was published to help reinforce the ideology held by everyday people and to change the American viewpoint through the idea of fear. Artist used this concept by the use of thick lines and dark colors to create an ominous tone. The white highlight on the teeth and eyes to further depict the feeling of menace on the Japanese soldier, monkey like face, and the fear in the women as the knife moves towards her. The biased perceptions in this image had been successful in conveying the eyes of Americans that the entire Japanese nation as a ruthless and animalistic enemy that had to be removed. Artists had also used the concept of racism in propaganda as another way to create revulsion about the enemy. In Be Sure You Have Correct Time (Fig. 2) racist imagery is used to remind soldiers about the operational value of keeping their watches wound while in the field (Toptenz). The artist uses cartoon versions of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo who is made to look like a grinning monster to establish the hatred against all soldiers and dehumanize these men.

In 1943, an American animated anti-Nazi short film, Der Fuehrer’s Face, was produced by Walt Disney Productions to illustrate the life under the Nazi regime.

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