Media campaigns, through film and art, leverage the popularity of different regimes, especially dictatorial ones. Behind the manipulation there has always been someone who creates and watches over these campaigns: Joseph Goebbels, Charles Masterman, LuDingyi
The twentieth century witnessed the prodigious use of propaganda, particularly in totalitarian regimes and in defence of their leaders. However, the twenty-first century has not lagged behind.
These men have done (and some continue to do) anything in order to mould public opinion in service of an ideology, their ideology.
James Montgomery-Flagg – Illustrator
The name Flagg might not ring a bell but the recruitment poster that he designed in 1917 has been repeatedly recreated and parodied until today.
The poster was drawn by Flagg, using his own likeness as a model, and more than four million copies were printed.
Joseph Goebbels – Journalist, Propaganda Minister of the Nazi German Reich
This is the most famous and notorious name in propaganda. Profoundly anti-Semitic, he not only disseminated the Nazi ideology but was also central in the consolidation of the core values of the party. He was one of the mentors of the “Final Solution”.
Following Hitler’s suicide, Goebbels and his wife killed their own six children with cyanide and went on to kill themselves. He was, therefore, never tried for the atrocities committed during the regime.
Lu Dingyi – Engineer, journalist, member of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party
Party member from the age of 19, Lu Dingyi wrote many articles for the “Chinese Youth” magazine. He was the editor of the “Red Star” newspaper, editor-in-chief of “Liberation Today” and author of the great treatise for journalism in the service of communism, entitled “Our Basic View for Journalism”.
He held a wide range of political positions, mostly in the fields of Culture and Education. However, following the Cultural Revolution in 1966, he began to disagree with Mao, and was imprisoned for 13 years.
Charles Masterman – Journalist, member of Parliament for the British Liberal Party and leader of Wellington House
This is an example of a piece of propaganda produced within a democratic country, trying to sway public opinion in its favour during the outbreak of the Great War. To that end, he manipulated information.
His greatest goal was achieved in 1917. He managed to convince the United States to enter into the war in alliance with the British and the French. Once the conflict was over, however, Masterman began to lose political relevance and he went on to lose his Parliament seat in 1924.
Muhammad al-Sahhaf – Journalist and Information Minister under the government of Saddam Hussein
Saeed al-Sahhaf is known around the western world as the object of numerous comedy sketches, due to the press conferences he presided over during the U.S. led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He regularly appeared surrounded by grandiose and highly unrealistic propaganda images extolling the invincibility of the Iraqi army, even after Baghdad was surrounded.
David Axelrod – He was the youngest political journalist ever ate the Chicago Tribune. He Heads Axelrod & Associates, a consultancy group.
Barack Obama won the US presidential election in 2008, becoming the first African American to take White House. Axelrod, the campaign’s media consultant, made great use of the internet and social media.
Axelrod served as presidential advisor until 2011. Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign once again followed the strategy laid out by Axelrod.
Leni Riefenstahl – Ballerina, actress, film director
This ballerina was recycled as film director following an injury. She began to work for the Nazi Party in the 1930s. She shot the “Triumph of the Will” (still studied today in cinema Schools) and “Olympia” (a tribute to the Aryan aesthetic with the Olympic Games as a backdrop).
Following the German defeat, she always portrayed herself as having been apolitical and naïve and only having followed orders. The case against her was closed in 2002, on the date of her 100th birthday.
Dmitri Shepilov – Russian Lawyer, intellectual, director of the Department of Propaganda and Central Committee of the Communist Party.
He was a specialist in communist ideology and a protégée of Andrei Zhadanov, the main leader of Stalinist ideals. He was named Propaganda Director in 1947.
He was editor in chief of Pravda, the official newspaper of the regime and wrote the bible of soviet economy (Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR). He was forced out of his position in 1957, under accusations of involvement in a plan to remove Khrushchev from power.
José Rizal – Ophthalmologist, writer, teacher of the Philippine Propaganda Movement.
He wrote two political novels “Noli me Tangere” (“Don’t Touch me”, 1887) and “El Filibuterismo” (“The Filisbustering”) which was translated in some countries under the title “The Reign of Greed”. Both works criticised the Spanish regime in the Philippines and called for a reform movement.
He was eventually executed in 1896 by the Spanish colonial government, accused of being a revolutionary. Two years later, the Philippines gained independence.
Alastair Campbell - His journalist career began at Penthouse Forum and it quickly brought him the position of editor of the British Tabloid Today
When Tony Blair announced the death of Princess Diana on 31st August, 1997, a title arose to express the depth of the national mourning. She was dubbed: “The People’s Princess”. It was a name penned by Alastair Campbell.
In 2003 he resigned as Director of Communications and Strategy for the Tony Blair government. His motives included the entry of England into the Iraq War and the crisis generated by the never to be discovered weapons of mass destruction.
Kim Jong-il – Great Leader of North Korea, inventor of the hamburger, world record holder in golf.
This “real” description of the man who led North Korea from 1997 to 2011 reproduces claims information issued by Kim Jong-il’s propaganda machine, which is based on the cult of personality.
The propaganda also serves to exacerbate hatred for the enemy – especially South Korea and the U.S. – and to cover up the country’s serious social problems, namely a lack of foodstuffs.