Propaganda

This is a cover from Liberty Magazine published on April 29, 1944. The cover is quite shocking and depicts Japanese soldiers in a very derogatory manner. Perched on top of a tree limb within the jungle sit three Japanese soldiers (two privates and one decorated officer…who resembles Japan’s General and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo) with bombs falling in the background. Their hands and  feet in this artistic rendering feature ape like features, exaggerated teeth, and posed in the famed speak no evil, see no evil, and img014hear no evil pose. The history of the  “three wise monkey” idiom, in a twist of fate is tied to a Chinese Buddhist and Confucian proverb that spread to Japan by the 17th Century. To provide context for  this image, strategic bombing of Japan started two months later in June of 1944 and would last until the end of the war. The illustrator Edgar Franklin Wittmack,  a  veteran of World War I, earned an artistic reputation for illustrating pulp magazines throughout the 1920s and later before the war his artwork graced  the covers  of popular  scientific magazines. The magazine itself was the brainchild of a former publisher from the Chicago Tribune. This pulp publication had a  fairly long  shelf life  lasting from 1924-1950 with a circulation of over 3 million subscribers. The main article associated with the cover is entitled How We Can  Win But Still  Lose in the  Orient. The article written by Filipino Colonel Carlos P. Romulo, who after the war served as the President of the United Nations  General Assembly.  The language in the article consistently refers to the Japanese as “Japs,” with the sole purpose to dismantle Japanese war propaganda. This  article is important  because it reveals the lack of effectiveness for Japanese propaganda throughout Asia. The tone of the piece also conveys a link with popular  views and stereotypes  about the Japanese  held by many Americans. Anti-Japanese sentiment was not exclusively an American design, people from many other  nationalities also  supported similar rhetoric. Perhaps, a rhetoric that prevented American audiences from targeting all people of Asian descent.

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