Rhetoric and Civil Life
There are many different forms of communication. Over time, people have developed different languages and gestures to talk with others and create a community. One gesture that exemplifies this is the “okay” gesture in America, which is the index finger and thumb creating a circle while the other three are pointing upwards. While it is a simple message in America, it does not have the same definition in other places in the world. In some places like Japan or Hong Kong, it simply means change or the number three, but in places such as Brazil or Portugal, it has a very contrasting message of “Go fuck yourself”. These unique messages create local community as people can communicate with one another using these gestures, but it can also make others who do not understand the message feel isolated. Just as forms of communication can make people feel isolated, ideas can also create and destroy communities depending on how people communicate them. One of the most prevalent examples of this is during the Cold War, where the Soviet Union would try to promote the ideas of communism while the rest of the world would see them as evil. The symbolism of the images brought up many different messages due to the time period these posters were prevalent.
One of the strongest images one could have is a healthy family. In the era of the Cold War, the idea of a strong family was a father who protects and provides, a mother who is strong and supportive, and obedient children. The Soviet Union tried to constantly portray images of a utopia and how communism was the path towards this ideal. As such, they showed a strong family in the poster to show the typical family in the Soviet Union. They first showed the dad, who stood strong and proud. The small bars on his jacket represent the service to the Soviet Union in the military, meaning he protected his family and country. He is also properly dressed so it shows a sense of wealth found under the rule of communism. Another symbol that immediately catches the eye is the mother, or daughter depending on how one interprets the poster, standing next to the father. Every family has a lady who can take care of the family while the husband is away and this lady portrays that image. Along with a serious face, she is well dressed and stands by the father with a determined expression, showing that she is not afraid to help her family if she need. The final member of the family that is shown is the child. This child also has a determined expression upon him and dressed up very well. This combination suggests that children even prosper under communism and become an ideal well-mannered child. The final part that people typically recognized with is the colors of the background. People would see red as vibrant, warm, and motivational while yellow was represents cheerfulness. After this each of these symbols was a vital part in creating a strong image that people could resonate with and the ideals of the Soviets made their ideals shine through the symbolism.
The Soviet Union was driven with the goal of creating a utopia. Many people suffered while few prospered in the typical setup of government. A man named Marx thought the idea that the majority of people were suffering was awful and wanted to create a new system to make everyone equal. He came up with the idea of socialism, also known as communism. This system was set up so everyone gives their earnings to the government. From there, the government redistributes all of the resources to everyone evenly so everyone prospers. The system of government Marx made was taken well and became the practiced in the Soviet Union. The idea of creating a utopia was popular with some people and the came to the Soviet Union to try and achieve this ideal light. The poster proves it with the text on the poster saying, “We’ll raise a generation, selflessly loyal to Communism”. It exemplified how confident Marx and the rest of the Soviet Union that socialism was the way towards a real utopia. However, not everyone saw the image as positive.
While the initial image of the picture is seen as positive, the colors brought negative image towards certain people. The colors of the background brought people to see the picture in a certain way. Red is typically seen as strong willed, aggressive, and rash. This would cause people to believe that these people as aggressive, which is typically a negative connotation. As a result, the way his face was depicted was seen as mean rather than serious. Furthermore, seeing the military bars on his jacket could be interpreted as violence and the red in the background could be shown as the blood that he has on his head. The color yellow further supports this claim as it tends to be the “emotionless” color and makes people think more about reasonably about their surroundings. Finally, the text reads, “We’ll raise a generation, selflessly loyal to Communism”, which can be seen as scary if this family is already seen as dangerous. While this view seems extreme, it was quite common during the time.
The Red Scare was one of the biggest times of paranoia in American history. This was the time that America became aware of the threat that communism posed on democracy and their ideas of free will. International events heightened these concerns. For example, in 1949, the Soviet Union successfully tested a nuclear bomb and the communists took over China under the control of Mao Zedong. It showed how the ideas of communism were spreading supported by a strong military force, which made Americans think that they were in danger of being enslaved under the communist regime. They took extreme action even to the point of trying to prosecute possible “commies” through questionable means such as kidnapping them. The color of red was associated with the communism so anytime Americans saw the color, these fears began to surface. This is why this poster was seen as negative in America and other democratic nations. These interpretations came from a different perspective of the same poster, showing how culture affected how one would think.
People saw these images and had different thoughts. Some believed that this image was a symbol of power and structure while others thought it was a symbol of savagery and violence. These symbols came with the different cultures that people were raised in, just as the “okay” gesture was interpreted in different ways depending on where one was raised. Ideas and symbols create community among people, but can also isolate communities from one another. However, any communication creates these groups and it has become an accepted part of the world today. The important idea is to listen to others ideas regardless of how radically different they are so one can form their own opinion through more knowledge. Knowledge is power and although no one can stop knowledge from growing, people can stop being scared of new information and ideas. If this is followed, then the world can become one unified community.
“The Color Red.” Empowered By Color. Copyscape, n.d. Web. 28 June 2016.
“The Color Yellow.” Empowered By Color. Copyscape, n.d. Web. 28 June 2016.
History.com Staff. “Red Scare.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 28 June 2016.
“Propaganda Posters of Soviet Era.” Soviet Propaganda Posters. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2016.
“Socialism.” Encyclopedia.com. HighBeam Research, 01 Jan. 1968. Web. 28 June 2016.