When it comes to dystopias, there is always a group of people who are being controlled. This may be to prevent a rebellion or to hide information, but it can be assumed that part of the population has strict rules to keep them from falling out of line.
Strict rules and the presence of enforcement usually aren’t enough to convince a population of their inferiority because it entices anger and unites them. In most dystopias, there needs to be the presence of fear of an outside force that keeps the population in line and propaganda is a reliable way to entice that fear.
In my independent reading book, Legend by Marie Lu, propaganda plays a large role in convincing the population to be scared. Throughout the story, there are giant billboards that release information about threats. There is the threat of the enemy Colonies on the beloved Republic, the threat of the Patriot rebels who slow down the war effort, and the threat of criminals who defy the Republic’s rules and regulations. All of these threats are then exaggerated and displayed in public locations to justify the rules and police enforcement that are present.
In Legend, the notorious criminal Day’s wanted poster is displayed frequently around the Republic. This propaganda is significant because it instills fear into the citizens of a person they don’t even know. The government even has no idea what Day looks like so they use a different photograph each time. In the visual above, it is clear how the words used to describe Day are accusatory without actual specifics on what he’s done. The term “hindering the war effort” is very vague and alludes to an unnecessary violence when in reality all of his actions were for survival.
This poster is an important example of propaganda in Legend because it shows how much the government depends on the citizens. They ultimately wanted Day to be caught, but realized they weren’t capable of capturing him without the help of the citizens, using money to entice them. This represents the need for the controlling force to appear “protecting” to the citizens in order to keep their trust and to accomplish tasks they can’t do without them.
Lu, Marie. Legend. Penguin Group, 2011.