At first glance, what we just see is an old billboard advocating for a call to make the streets and homes safe by voting for a particular political party. Many of these billboards crop almost everywhere and in every conceivable place and location, selling anything from clothes to shops and eateries, perfume and ladies’ accessories to even babies clothing wear. But this billboard is of a different breed, if you will. It defers to a need to make voters aware of the dangers of criminality in the society, to influence the minds of the people to believe in a certain “propaganda” tool by a political party.
To get a more complete picture, or to put the billboard into context, we must first seek to understand when the billboard was made and to what audience it wanted to address. Again at first glance, we just see the billboard with a frightened white girl about to be attacked by a grown man, although the hands are all that we can see in the billboard. Then the running message of “Make our homes and streets SAFE!”, then the catch phrase “Vote Republican”. Pretty straightforward in its approach and message, right?
But we want to get the context of the billboard, and to do that, as stated earlier, we must, one, go to the time when the billboard was set-up. Two, we must know who the advertisement was trying to catch and address the message it’s trying convey. For good measure, we must also see why the billboard was composed in such a way by the creators of the board and the time or circumstances when it was made.
The first thing that tends to catch the people’s attention on the billboard is the graphic picture that is portrayed in the billboard. Why a white girl? The answer may lie in the fact that since the billboard is from the 1970’s and looks rather old and weather beaten, what may crop up in the persons’ mind is the billboard isn’t new, that is was put up earlier than the 70’s. Then the message that the choice of a white girl seems to cross into the racism issues rampant in the 1960’s. The 60’s were rife with the issue of racism and segregation, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. So it would seem that the message is a slur of sorts that only American whites are the subject of the advertisement and the target of the slant would be the African-American sector of society.
We can surmise then that the billboard was created in such a way that the voters can be swayed to vote for this particular group on the basis that they want to safeguard their homes and neighborhoods from nefarious elements. It would seem that the creators of the ad were thinking along the societal norms of the day, that the average white American is the only beneficiary of the probable vote of people who would support them, to the detriment of others that are not represented in the advertisement.
It cannot be ruled then that the billboard runs smack of a propaganda tool. It does not advocate any other benefit for the people other than if they vote for this group, they can be assured that they would protect them from these criminals. Sadly, the billboard doesn’t succeed in fostering a united front in terms of the citizenry being called to support their cause; what it does seem to promote is the face of a society that is scared of certain elements in it, albeit right or wrong.