Promised Land

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The Catalan 'independence' election is hotting up, and is becoming more and more centred on the figure of Artur Mas, president of the Generalitat, who called the election of November 25th in order to capitalise on the current surge of Catalan nationalist feeling. I have mentioned before the political advertising skills of the party of Mas, Convergencia I Unió (CiU) - see the blog Image & language - and it does seem that CiU's communications gurus have been busy again. Consider the image above ...


The first thing that strikes you, self-evidently, is the posture of the figure of Mas, but we'll come back to that. The slogan in Catalan translates as something like "The will of a people" ... (and what is the difference between 'The will of a people' and 'The will of the people'?) At bottom left, we have the party's initials, and below a yellow curving arrow that leads up to a circle with the red and yellow bars of the Catalan flag. That arrow is an interesting visual evolution: if you look at Image & language, you'll see that the yellow curve had arrows at both ends, making it a smile - losing the arrow on the left makes it a direction towards (independent) Catalonia. The sub-slogan below emphasises the independentist idea: "Make it possible", where 'it' is obviously 'independence'. Remember Obama and 'Yes we can' ?


But it's the figure that really communicates. The posture - dramatic? heroic? triumphalist? - is graphically vivid, and anything but modest. If you look closely at a full-size poster, Mas' eyes are narrowed in concentration as he stares towards the vast perspectives of the glowing future. The image has roused much comment in local social networks, and people very quickly came up with a comparison with what may be the (conscious or unconscious?) reference ...



Yes, Charlton Heston as Moses in 'The Ten Commandments'. Mas doesn't deploy the patriarchal beard nor the magisterial staff, but the role of the visionary leader taking his people towards the Promised Land fits rather nicely, doesn't it? The question is, does this epic comparison work? Do people make the Moses connection and chuckle satirically - or do they glow with pride and share the Dream? There are indeed many people in Catalonia today who desperately want a Dream, a project, a sense of hope ...


Myself, I am of the satirical persuasion - I recognise the skill and subtlety of the propaganda, but despise the lack of critical thinking implied in such an obviously manipulative image. What will happen if and when the hard realities beneath all this political fantasy catch up with us? In a time of massive economic and social problems, is it really the moment for indulging in the invention of a new European country? Again, maybe 'The Ten Commandments' can help, with a slightly more apocalyptic vision :-



And what then, Artur Mas ?


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