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American Propaganda during War War II - Essay Example

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American Propaganda during War War II

Directed by Frank Capra on behalf of the US War Department, it was produced to inform the allied soldiers about the last enemy that remained in the war after the fall of Italy and Germany: Japan. The idea was that increased knowledge about the history and culture of Japan would create an understanding of the current situation that would cause a positive effect on the allied war effort. Every chance to condemn the Japanese and their ideologies were used in the course of the film.
As this propaganda film was designed for army personnel being sent to fight the Japanese, it contains generalisations and stereotypical caricatures of the Japanese people and culture. Expected to have deliberate propagandistic content, this paper looks into the techniques of persuasion used.
Embedding history and culture. Much of the film is devoted to the life of the average Japanese, Japanese religion and the part religion played in the rise of Hirohito as the Emperor of Japan. There is an explanation of how the warlords, reviving and misusing the old Shinto religion created a Japan that became a belligerent world power rather than a peaceful one.
Japanese citizens are portrayed as being raised from a very young age to be soldiers, thought to be the "highest human achievement" in their society. Japanese values such as the collective-versus -individual character, and the willingness to die for one's master, among others, are exploited to show the negative side of the Japanese. In reality, however, these are issues irrelevant as to why Japan should be fought. To the Japanese, these values have proven positive to them.
Brooding sound and visual effects. There are animated sequences in the film. Clips from Japanese samurai films of the 1930s lend a brooding visual effect. Made up of sequences from documentaries with narration and music, there are bits that clearly are re-constructions of passed events but are presented as though they are real news footage. Sequence joint shots of Japanese soldiers and civilians preparing for war with the repeated image of a steel bar being relentlessly hammered in a forge gives a sinister effect.
Race and negative association. The film explains how the Japanese of today are a mixture of races that originally stem from the Ainu (described as "a hairy barbarian") with a touch of Mongolians and Malaysians. Their claims to be a pure race are put down and they become "a well-mixed plasma cocktail". The Japanese social classes and their development for 2000 years are summarised. The endless civil wars between local warlords are described as well as the Samurai system. The Samurai code, bushido, is referred to as "the Art of Treachery".
Use of symbolisms for evil and pain. The movie encourages Americans to distrust Japanese people - in the context of the hateful and totalitarian worldwide thrust towards Pacific Ocean domination. It speaks of the world fomented by the Japanese Imperial Army. The Imperial Army was a vile force for hatred, genocide and narcissistic stupidity, which produced a world of suffering and pain. It is in fact evil. An attempt to explore the reasons for Japan's rise as a belligerent world power, it relies heavily on image and sound to ...Show more


During World War II, the government launched a campaign to inspire Americans on the home front to support the war effort. As part of this campaign, they used posters, photographs, radio, television and print to educate and encourage certain behaviors. Photographs all over the country that captured specific moments, activities or moods were eventually used in propaganda campaigns about life on the American home front during the war years…
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American Propaganda during War War II essay example
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