For this essay I intend to show how visual propaganda imagery manipulates reactions and awareness to the truth of the realities of war, sanctioning photographers, journalists to showcase their angles of conflict.
There are numerous photography books on War full of propaganda and images of sacrifice, manipulating our senses and emotions which prove there is nothing good about war, never the less we hope the photography books will enforce peace.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” Dwight D. Eisenhower. I have included this quote as the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower summed up how everyone feels when we are under the clouds of war. War is in Mr. Eisenhower’s own words “it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron”.
Wars have acted as a catalyst for photographer’s by unveiling their craft, a picture can touch people in a thousand different ways, war photographs live long in the memories, a camera shot of conflict can make a photographers career and his name will never be forgotten. Impossible to ignore was the image taken by photographer Ronald Haeberle at the My Lai massacre, showing slaughtered South Vietnamese women and babies. Valid accounts of conflicts in newspapers by war correspondents along with courageous video journalism broadcasts depicting hostilities can both familiarize us to recall the reporter’s name. This for example can happen when a correspondent’s report is transmitted from an armed siege or in a country’s disputed war zone. Once this is broadcast on television everyone in the country or even the world will know the war reporters name. “The implications of digital imaging technologies for the future uses of photography, in invoking, or erasing, memory and location” Locating memory, Photographic art Annette Kuhn, Kirsten Emiko McAllister. Digital technology has essentially made photography more powerful to the human eye in terms of what we see and what the photography means to us.
In April 1982 Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Islands. On the 5thApril, 1982 the British government sent a Task Force of British ships to the Falklands. Only 30 media personnel (including journalists, broadcasters, photographer camera operatives, sound people and engineers) all representing British news organisations were allowed to go. (Reporting War – Journalism in wartime, Stuart Allan and Barbie Zeller)
Falklands War Picture 1 – Google Images
During the Falklands conflict The Sun headline propaganda image Gotcha Picture 1, wanted us to feel good for striking back at the enemy. Its main purpose, propaganda, was as an instigator for Britain to feel upbeat in the battle against Argentina for the Falkland Islands. The journalists who reported the news from the ships on the way to the Falkland Islands gave insight into the task force that was assembled. They occupied the news with extraordinary information from the start of the journey that set sail from Great Britain to the Islands that only few had heard about. The news regarding war could now be reported next day on the television bringing propaganda straight into our homes. Photographs in our newspapers also operated as channels for the propaganda vehicle.
“I'm not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back.” Brian Hanrahan. Brian’s famous quote related to his reporting of the Falklands war from his standpoint whilst being on the HMS Hermes aircraft carrier ship. It is regarded by many as one of the most iconic sentences by broadcasting journalists during the Falklands war. Brian couldn’t report and say over the airwaves how many planes there where in the air raids due to military intelligence.
At the start of the war there were no photographs so the press used home-front photographs which were vital for the country to come together. Denied any pictures from the front lines the press had problems keeping up interest for their readers. Commonly used were photographs of service men in happier times with their families, in the absence of horrific pictures these could be used to influence opinions.
The television propaganda tool was used to keep the spirits up of the British people. It showed solidarity across the nation for the service personnel. It also sent the messages out to the enemy that the British forces were in control and would liberate the Falkland Islands. Destructive images on the television of destroyed warships sent shocks into homes, as most homes had televisions, showing what the effects of Exocet missiles where doing. Television stations reported broadcasts of the conflict; the Government censored what news was given out by the Ministry of Defense. News broadcasters could portray the accounts for the expectant viewers.
“Yet the actual war, as experienced by the British Force, was equally unavailable to the British media. The constraints on reportage arose from a mix of technical difficulties, deliberate exclusion of journalists for operational reasons, and censorship. Moreover, there were constraints on documentary realism, the government and military authorizes were afraid of its potential effect on home morale”. War Photography- John Taylor.
Picture 2 Picture 3
Pictures of Simon Weston 2 & 3 - BBC News Pictures
I researched the life of Simon Weston who suffered horrific burns, during the Falklands conflict when his ship the ‘Sir Galahad’ was struck by Argentinean bombs. I found it an inspiring story reading about this man who had his life turned upside down but who always found the positives in life. Newspapers emotive reporting of Simon made everyone aware of the pain of injured soldiers. Picture 2 show’s Simon Weston’s injuries that he sustained during the Falklands War, the image shows the depth of the burns that he suffered. To many Simon Weston is the face of the Falklands war, his story and how he battled back to carry on with his day to day life is a story we all can admire. Picture 3 Simon Weston today.
For many of the photographers taking pictures during the Falklands war it must have been a harrowing experience, they did their job well, wanting us to know how our service men and women where putting their lives on the line for one of our sovereign territories. Journalists were embedded with the British Task Force; they shared the daily lives and felt an affinity with the troops, admired their comradeship and closeness whilst being among them. Journalists become emotionally involved with the troops with whom they are located and want their side to win.
A task force journalist, Patrick Bishop, then of the Observer newspaper at the end of the conflict: “The situation was that you were a propagandist; and that’s how it turned out. So there wasn’t any need to put pressure on anyone to write gung-ho copy because everyone was doing it without any stimulus from the military. And that’s how most of the reporter’s felt. They were all very patriotic and positive about the whole thing. So the military didn’t have to lean on them”. Reporting War – Journalism in Wartime.
Falkland War - Picture 4 - Google Images
The image above Picture 4 shows Time magazine’s take on the British going into battle with Argentina at one of the tensest moments during the Falklands conflict. I think this picture represents a lot of the mainstream media’s view of the British Forces when they went into battle, showing that we were determined to withhold the freedom and democracy of the Falkland Islands. Photography wise the image here is taken from an action point of view, it does not seem a scripted image, meaning the soldiers weren’t acting, this was a real life action picture of soldiers being on the front line preparing for battle. Times magazine chose to put the Argentinian soldiers on the front cover to signify the battle side of the Falklands war, the Argentinian’s fighting for the Falklands which they believed was there territory. The Argentinian public saw the front cover as a statement; we are in a war with the British for a group of islands that we consider ours. British people in particular saw the image as fighting tough and resilient Argentine troops that were not going to concede defeat with a fight.“The first war photographers really didn’t photograph war at all because of the bulk of their equipment and the length of time it took to make an exposure, they were limited to battleground landscapes, posed pictures of fighters, simulated combat, and portraits of soldiers prior to battle”. Peter Howe. The quote above unveils to us today how much photography associated with wars has moved on.
Vietnam War Picture 5 - Google Images
When America took the decision to enter the Vietnamese war it was not a widely popular decision with the American public and to this day the majority still think it was a bad decision to invade Vietnam. The above image Picture 5 shows protestors saying that black Americans should not be fighting in Vietnam and publicly demonstrating the issue of racism in America in the 1960’s. Picture 5 in my opinion summed up the American people’s views on the war in Vietnam, in particular that America should withdraw out of Vietnam. The image made people think it was a bad idea sending the troops to Vietnam for a war which to all intents and purposes had nothing to do with America; it was a civil war in Vietnam that did not involve them. There is implication of propaganda within the image. The protestors sign enlightens two highly evocative topics, racism and the war which were on every American mind during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. “It doesn't require any particular bravery to stand on the floor of the Senate and urge our boys in Vietnam to fight harder, and if this war mushrooms into a major conflict and a hundred thousand young Americans are killed, it won't be U.S. Senators who die, it will be American soldiers who are too young to qualify for the Senate”. George McGovern. George McGovern, an American President Candidate during the time of the conflict expressed the soldier’s bravery whose average age was nineteen years old.
Vietnam War Picture 6 – Google Images
Here is an image Picture 6showing American troops going into battle during the Vietnam War. We see helicopters flying overhead getting ready to drop bombs on areas within Vietnam which were considered unstable by America. I get a sense that the young American’s soldiers are underestimating the enemy, unaccustomed to fighting in a jungle; to me the pictures raises the question that the GI’s have just entered a battle and were not ready to fight.“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake”. Jeanette Rankin. Once an earthquake starts there is a consequence, once a war starts there is also a consequence.
Photographical war imagery makes us feel a certain way. Counter cultural groups opposition to the war in Vietnam displayed controversial imagery to influence American. The iconic image of ‘My Lai massacre’ changed their opinion on the war. The exposure of the story of My Lai, more than a year later, it tarnished the name of the United States Army. Most Americans did not want to believe that their worthy GI’s could be wanton murderers.
Facebook and Twitter have throughout the Syrian War shown how powerful they are, bringing the world the latest news and people’s views of what is happening instantly in the conflict. From a positive point of view Facebook and Twitter help bring to light the full and latest escapades of what is happening in Syria, how fighting is continuing and that there is still a lot needed to change in Syria before it to come out of the civil war. Negatively, Twitter in particular has brought a lot of scaremongering news to the world as to what is happening in Syria, such as outlandish claims about the fighting. For example a lot of rumours are thrown about during times of tension, during a recent bombing raid in Damascus, capital city of Syria, tweets of the whole city being in ruins when it was the suburbs that were destroyed.
“What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbours and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world” Robert E. Lee. It is an old quote from the 1800’s but relates totally to the Syrian conflict.
War reporting has changed since World War 2, now we have the internet, social networking and mobile phones, all of these media outlets allow war reporters to diversify their news stories adding in different points of view, plus it allows the news regarding war to become more similar to live breaking news stories. Blogs based around wars ‘War Blogging’ has become a new form of reporting what’s happening during wars and conflicts. In some cases people’s war blogs online can be used as research for breaking news stories that may be run by major news organisations for example ABC, CBS and the BBC. Bloggers perhaps aren’t as known for being accurate with news stories but they do give live up to date news, an illustration of this is in an eye witness account there could be scenes of violence during unrest in a town or city in any country in the world. In the Iraq war many bloggers put pictures on their blogs giving viewers of their sites insights into what life was like in the capital of Iraq, Baghdad.
When war is talked about on the news, in magazines and newspapers it brings with it propaganda and now together internet propaganda, which is with us all the time through Facebook and Twitter, a person can say a nuclear strike is imminent and we would all panic that’s propaganda. The internet has made propaganda during times of war reach worldwide audiences. Journalists and photographers when reporting wars, conflicts have to be creative in their reporting method; new media are allowing them this advantage. In some countries, state broadcasters are not allowed in, journalists, photographers work round being excluded by gathering bordering countries opinions, helped by facebook and twitter feeds can report events, creating added news stories.
Google Images Picture 7
Visual imagery, propaganda, was performed during World War 1, to try and make British men enlist and feel more patriotic towards their country through joining the forces to fight for their country Picture 7. The first propaganda posters were of bold print, strident text and had simple messages that conveyed a pervasive meaning. “Propaganda Prints” Colin Moore.
My conclusions are that horrific pictures of war and shocking accounts of humanity suffering tell stories that conjure up many emotions, worry, apprehension and nervousness about how we would subsist in war; they alert compassion within us for the soldiers who fight for our freedom." In fact, the thing that has changed is that I've become more entrenched in my point of view that we were right to do what we had to do" Simon Weston. Simon’s words show a soldier’s heroic point of view, he followed orders.
“Media reporting and visual imagery has characterized our lives and is everywhere now we just don’t identify it as propaganda” Colin Moore Propaganda Prints. Without the tool of propaganda, visual imagery and editorial historical conflicts may not have taken place, photographs, artist pictures, posters and newspapers shock the world into the realities of war by influences our senses, and it is the most potent weapon governments’ hold.
The Vietnam war 1956-1975 (Essential Histories) [Paperback] Andy Wiest, Osprey Publishing, 2002
Vietnam A war lost and won, Nigel Cawthorne, Arcturus Publishing, 2003
Propaganda, Edward L.Bernays, IG Publishing; New Ed edition, 2004
Reporting War, Journalism in Wartime, Stuart Allan and Barbie Zelizer, Routledge Taylor & Francis group, 2004
The Falklands War, Martin Middlebrook, Pen & Sword Military, 2012
Online news, Stuart Allan, Open University press, 2006
War Photography, Realism in the British Press, John Taylor, 1991
Propaganda Prints, Colin Moore, 2010.
Locating Memory, Annette Kuhn, Kirsten, Emiko, McAllister, 2006