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The Power in Political Posters


Today the internet allows for political messages and movements to be spread throughout our nation and even the world almost instantly. With the rise in twitter hashtags seem to replace what used to be political posters and are used to show support and spread messages. For instance with all of the shootings that have been happening, many hashtags have been created to show the support for human lives and to support gun control. Its amazing that a single hashtag can connect you to like minded people all around the US that believe in the same cause and want to support it with you. Before the hashtag, communication for a cause was not this easy and in order to gain support groups had to utilize political posters and propaganda. The art show, “Art as Activism: Graphic Art From the Merrill C. Berman Collection” in New York features political posters from the 1930’s to the 1970’s that exemplify the importance political posters played within history and to spread political movements. The interesting part is that while art and politics seem to be in two very separate realms, they are so interconnected and physical art plays an important role in getting people to support a political cause.

All of the posters utilize the same propaganda tactics to gain the attention of the reader and get the point across. There are artists that only created political posters in order to support a cause and organizations would hire them to create posters. Much like today a company will hire a marketing specialist to create adds. There are a lot of aspects of political posters that go unnoticed by the naked eye that are specifically used to draw peoples attention and support to a cause. A majority of the political posters are detournments of previous political movements or references to historical movements in the past. Certain colors were utilized in order to get points across. Red is a very bold color and was often utilized. Uncle Sam was also often used as a symbol against America which is interesting because he typically stands for America.

People associate political posters as a thing of the past but they are still utilized today just with the internet as a medium, not paper; however, their affect on the internet is not as strong. Political posters play an important role because they unify and connect people under one umbrella. The peace sign was detourned with the Eiffel Tower in order to signify world peace and while it spread like wildfire over the internet it had the same affect as political posters did during the mid nineteenth century. The hashtag is the modern day political poster but I do not think it would be a bad idea to return to posters because they have more meaning than the hashtag. The art show itself shows this very fact. The posters of the 1930’s are still around today and put on display to remind us of the issues within our history. They are tangible and remind us not to make the same mistakes. They hold more power, while a hashtag as a three day life span at most. It seems as if a new hashtag is made every time there is another shooting yet they keep happening. The old hashtag is forgotten and replaced by the new one. No one remembers the old one and it gets sucked into the mass that is the internet. Political posters also took more time and effort and one had to really care about the cause and making change. The poster had to be designed, printed, paid for, put up. It took time and dedication. With a hashtag I can tweet it out in five seconds to feel like I am supporting the cause at lunch time and forget about it by my next class. Hashtags gain an impressive mass following and then people lose interest and are on to the next cause within a day. It is important to have tangible evidence of a cause because it gets put in the history books. Hashtags are just another way for our generation to feel good about themselves for showing support. “I tweeted about it so I helped” when in reality it was just one of the million tweets and the real way to see change is to get up and take action. Hashtags are the modern day political poster but they are really hindering the cause. Political posters need to come back because they hold more power and force people to take action for what they care about and in todays society I don’t think that regression is a bad thing. Everyone talks about change needing to happen and maybe returning to political posters and taking physical action is how it will happen.

For a complete list of the art show posters go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/arts/design/seeing-the-power-of-political-posters.html?_r=0

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