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Visual Depictions of a Dictatorship, Essay Example

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Essay

The most effective dictatorships are those that pretend to be democracies.  Successful dictators like Napoleon and Stalin presented a fatherly public image that contradicted their ruthlessness but was meant to reassure the public that they were being well cared for.  After my quick and bloodless political coup, it will be essential for me to establish my image as a benevolent leader who should be obeyed at all costs.  The visual imagery that I use will help to cement my power by making sure that those who do not love me at least fear me.

Art is an essential weapon in my arsenal as a dictator to win public support while ensuring the fear and compliance of my subjects.  There are many ways that this could be accomplished, but the simplicity of my propaganda imagery will be vital to creating a persona that will resonate with the public.  Although as a dictator I likely will have a complex and detailed manifesto, I can’t assume that people will have the inclination or intellectual capacity to read and understand it.  Unlike text, images do not require literacy and can be quickly disseminated to large populations.  Along with catchy and simple slogans (along the lines of Stalin’s “Peace, love, bread” and the slogan “War is Peace” in George Orwell’s 1984), the visual imagery associated with my leadership will use my picture as a focal point.  This will make me readily identifiable and has the power to sway the public to my side, if done correctly.  Like Napoleon, I want to appear large and intimidating, even though I am not.  Thus, any photographs will be taken at angles that make me seem tall and imposing.  The severity of my clothes and the use of strong lighting will make me appear authoritarian and powerful.

However, I don’t wish to alienate my subjects entirely; because my leadership is so new, I need to form strong alliances and develop a relationship with the population at large to help prevent any coups against my dictatorship.  Thus, my campaign will involve a great many images of myself interacting with the people.  These photographs would not be so different from the standard photo-ops that are used in traditional American political campaigns:  pictures of me reading with school children, playing cards with the elderly, and shaking hands with the working man.  However, it will be essential that the ‘regular’ people pictured with me wear expressions of adoration and pleasure.  Although these pictures will seem to be ‘candid’, they will be staged to the utmost degree so that anyone who may not be happy with my reign will not have the chance to ruin a photo opportunity with a frown or a glare.

It is essential that I make my aims and ideology easily accessible to as many people as possible.  To do so, I will utilize both traditional media outlets like newspapers and television and newer outlets like the Internet.  My campaign will involve a ‘viral’ component using footage of me interacting with the people in a naturalistic manner.  Although it will be staged to allow for total control of my image, my handlers will upload such videos onto sites such as YouTube and manipulate the site traffic so that I will get many hits.  Depending on how readily I’m accepted by the American people, I may have to use film and video as a medium to show my subjects what happens to those who disagree with my rule.  However, I prefer to be seen as a benevolent and compassionate leader, so hopefully I will be able to stick with depicting my reign as one that offers hope and promise to all of those intelligent enough to live by  my rules.

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