Propaganda and Fantasy: How One Offends and The Other is Well Recieved

Propaganda

I’ll take a break from rebuttals today and focus on Propaganda because this is what the theme of our deck is about. As you may have noticed, the past week has consisted of rebuttals against the idiocracy that was spewing from the Aeclectic Tarot forum. We’re not completely done with these rebuttals but we’d also like to bring it back to what we were originally focusing on…Propaganda art.

It’s been suggested by those who challenged us that perhaps we should have called our Tarot something like “Chinese Propaganda Tarot” or the “Cultural Revolution Propaganda Tarot” rather than “The Cultural Revolution Tarot” because they feel that the happy disposition of much of the artwork does not portray the Cultural Revolution accurately.

8swords


Our Eight of Swords features the naming and shaming of those they considered “bourgeoise”

While i understand their point of view (this was never what our rebuttals were about), i like to think that the negative type cards in the Tarot are well represented with the more negative aspects of the Cultural Revolution. Our Eight of Swords features the naming and shaming of those they considered “bourgeoise”. This was basically a shaming ritual known as “struggle sessions” where the accused was forced to admit their crimes in front of an audience. Used as a sort of badge of shame, they wore what we’d called in britain “dunce caps” (although I’m sure there is a proper Chinese word for them). Whether you think this is right or not, is another issue, but Mao preferred what he called “Thought Reform” rather than killing the enemy.

Our 4 and 5 of Pentacles both feature scenes of starvation which depict the great famine along with our Death card which features two dead children in the hands of a mythological Chinese death god along with starving people in the background.

We like to think that we’ve been fair in our portrayal of the events during the Cultural Revolution in our Tarot including a vast range of imagery that relates to the time period.

deaths

As we’ve explained right from the very start in the descriptions of our Tarot deck (if any of our critics actually cared to read what our Tarot was actually about), The Cultural Revolution Tarot is based on Mao era Propaganda. I’ve mentioned this on my personal website, I’ve mentioned it on Facebook multiple times, I’ve mentioned it in promotional material, I’ve mentioned it on Tarotpedia, I’ve mentioned on Aeclectic Tarot, I’ve mentioned it on promotional cards which were included in our Tarot decks, and I’ve included it on probably a dozen other places over the past year and a half while creating the deck. The problem is that critics, who let’s be fair, are usually not usually interested in our Tarot, jump to conclusions and just say stuff….any old stuff, without a few minutes of research. Simple laziness.

A little on propaganda

prop

Propaganda exists everywhere. I’ve pointed out a few examples, but i like to refer to the native american propaganda that America liked to use for many years because it’s a propaganda that as a kid i bought into. I watched cowboy films, and when i was a kid i played cowboys and indians with my brothers. My eldest brother always liked to be the cowboys (little plastic figures), and so i picked what was left…the little plastic Indians. Playing actual cowboys and indians (i.e using cap guns and running around and hiding) pitted the cowboys of us (usually considered the good guys) against the one who “got stuck” with being the Indians (usually considered the bad guys). This was ingrained into us as children, despite being thousands of miles from the U.S.

Propaganda has been around for a long time and most people can see through it…at least, this is

The Fool from King's Journey Tarot. When i illustrated this deck i knew that it was


The Fool from King’s Journey Tarot.
When i illustrated this deck i knew that it was “fantasy” based, which if we want to be honest about it, is a form of “propaganda” for the medieval period.

what we’d like all like to believe. Most news media could be considered propaganda, or at least a little biased depending on where their political leanings lie.  In terms of the art, i am inclined to believe that the romantic medieval style of art often found in Tarot decks are propaganda based imagery due to the fact that the medieval times were often brutal, dirty and unhygienic, with corrupt land barons, and rich elitists (aka monarchs) treating their subjects as serfs. Depending on where we’re basing our focus on geographically, some of the peasants were often treated badly, often lacking food and facing starvation. Medieval reality was often brutal for many people, but when we combine this with what we call “fantasy”, in other words a smattering of fairy glitter upon the harsh reality of the situation brings about a special type of propaganda called “fantasy” and admittedly i’ve illustrated this very thing many times.

What I’ve found is that because medieval “fantasy” has been implemented in the various forms of media extensively, it is widely accepted, especially when it is not specific to any one particular year or under one particular monarchy or people. What i mean by this is is that we might have knights, castles and fair maidens, like we can see in King’s Journey Tarot. The noticeable thing is that even though it seems based on a kind of medieval European style environment, it’s actually so far removed from what we would consider a real medieval reality. It’s based on idealism or “fantasy”, and to be brutally honest there are uncountable numbers of Europeans who have died by the sword, beaten brutally and hacked into pieces within Europe alone…yet, virtually no one is offended at all…IN FACT, people get offended at the brutality (although I’ve heard it’s more the nudity) of Game of Thrones which although again is based in a  fantasy world, is much more closer to reality than any medieval fantasy Tarot deck i’ve ever seen, including any i’ve illustrated.

Although it's rated 18, most parents know that kids play this from 8 or 9 upwards. Indoctrinated being puberty. Wonderful! Propaganda at its finest

Although it’s rated 18, most parents know that kids play this from 8 or 9 upwards. Indoctrinated before puberty. Wonderful! Propaganda at its finest

The problem comes when you illustrate a particular event that people suffered under. We’re expected to show it in all its doom and gloom (which to be fair we’ve included gloomy hard-hitting themes in our deck DESPITE it being based on Propaganda…in other words going beyond what Mao era Propaganda art ACTUALLY depicted).

Propaganda and Fantasy are both based in idealism, but one is acceptable and one is not. It also depends on what country you’re from. The American’s “Uncle Sam” stands for the American military and yet millions of people have been killed over the years at the hands of this military. Naturally the Uncle Sam propaganda won’t work for those countries that America has bombed. It’s debatable if Uncle Sam would even work on young American’s who plan on joining the military. Even the mighty Top Gun movie itself which was responsible for an excellent result in many recruitment drives during the 80’s, would not have any affect on young Americans. Nowadays i imagine its video games like Call of Duty and movies like American Sniper that inspire young Americans to join up. But Uncle Sam, at one point had his day. Propaganda is most government’s most important tool and it always has been. Mao era China was no different.

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