The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

What's In a Portrait?

Mocking Mao—Michelle asks, Snapped Shot gladly answers. And so should you!

You know all of those inspirational portraits of Chairman Mao Zedong (the brutal dictator loving patron of China) that everyone knows him for? You know, the one you see all over the communist world, Berkeley, and your local outpost of academia? (Though I do repeat myself.)

Yeah, who would've guessed that a murderous, totalitarian thug such as Chairman Mao would've had all of those glowing portraits faked:

Genuine as a $3 Bill. Or better yet, a 10 yuan Mao!
The man responsible for our image of Mao Zedong never actually took a photo of the founder of the People's Republic of China. He worked in the dark room, where he retouched the State leader's photos to create the iconic images we are familiar with today.

Chen Shilin is not as famous as those photographers who took the shots, but his influence remains, from the portrait of Mao hanging in Tian'anmen Square, to his image on 100-yuan bills.

"I can tell you one thing I never told anyone else before," the 78-year-old Chen says in his three-room apartment in Beijing. "You know the poster of Chairman Mao in a white shirt standing in a field of wheat, with a straw hat? There was someone else in the original photo.

"It was Liu Shaoqi (then vice-president of China). I removed Liu's image and drew some wheat plants in his place so the picture could be made into millions of posters. Before this, the photo had been dumped among the discarded files."

The photo was taken in 1957 and was heavily used for propaganda purposes during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

What is it about megalomaniacal dictators that is so endearing to the Left, anyway? From where I'm sitting, it seems that every tinpot dictator that has an extra $50 to spend on a good airbrushing job is worshipped as deity in the pantheon of global Socialism—and while the men behind the regimes are always quite detrimental to the wellbeing of just about everyone around them, there is still no degree of acknowledgement from the vast plebocracy (if I may invent a term to suit my needs) of the Left as to how ruthless these dictators were.

Then again, when your entire idea of the world is that "Something" needs to be "changed" (generally defined as taking something away from "the rich," and giving it to "the deserving"—who then blow what was given to them on $50 strip shows, thus proving once again their complete inability to accumulate "wealth," that being the accepted definition of being "rich," after all), I guess it is easy enough to believe any stupid old thing.

Now if only I could place exactly where I've seen stuff like this before...

(Almost forgot: h/t Jack Russell, who likes to cram his name all together for some reason.)

Update: How could I have forgotten my own friend Ian's contribution to this topic?

One would call this quite prescient, if it weren't for the fact that Queen Hillary was self-destructing right now.

 Tags: snapped shots #Historic Photojournalism #SnappedShots


#1 captainfish 07-Jan-2008
"Then again, when your entire idea of the world is that "Something" needs to be "changed," generally defined as taking something away from "the rich," and giving it to "the deserving""

sounds like a certain female presidential candidate. add in some tears and voila'.

"(sniffle) These idiots who did not vote for me don't know the opportunities I have as president to enact all the plans that are in my head that this nation will not be able to afford but will anyway. (sniffle)"
#2 DJM 08-Jan-2008
Speaking of retouched history, a little trivia -

Did you know Winston Churchill's famous "We shall fight on the beaches..." radio address wasn't Churchill at all. It was an actor filling in for Churchill. ;)
#3 Brian C. Ledbetter 08-Jan-2008

Not exactly—See here. ;)

#4 DJM 08-Jan-2008
I'm not certain that site is particularly impartial. But I'll give it the benefit of doubt. :)
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