Mao

Anatomie eines massenmörderes
Der Spiegel - October 2005

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1. Content
i. Symbols of significance
Mao and the color red.

ii. Area(s) in society that the symbols belong to
It belongs to the area of politics, since Chairman Mao is a famous political figure.

iii. Quantitative assessment
1 portrait of Chairman Mao, and 1 silhouette of a man who is defiling the portrait of Chairman Mao.

2. Communication
i. Image/symbol(s) used to symbolize China
Chairman Mao is used to symbolize China, especially here is a portrait of Chairman Mao who is defiled with a brush.

ii. Key connotations and denotations
Chairman Mao’s contribution to development is hidden and stained with the color of blood.

iii. Interpretations of the key symbols, with focus on Chinese culture
The image in this cover is simple, and its meaning is clear. The Portrait of Chairman Mao is stained by the silhouette of man. There is one silhouette who is defiling the portrait, which may insinuate that the silhouette can be anybody who is unsatisfied with Chairman Mao. The red color of the brush adds the portrait with awful atmosphere, which may symbolize denial to the contribution of Chairman Mao.
In China, it is not common to make fun of the portrait or image of the head of a state, neither China’s chairman, nor foreign presidents, especially not to defile them. Special care is taken when it comes to those, who are the most respected, such as Chairman Mao, Premier Zhou, and Deng Xiaoping.
Chairman Mao enjoys special respect since it was he who leads China to independence.
Though students in China are taught to evaluate the contribution of Chairman Mao, and that Chairman Mao once made mistakes especially during the Cultural Revolution. He is still the most respected Chinese political leader. He has become an icon, a symbol of China. Therefore, smearing Chairman Mao can be seen as tarnishing China.

iv. Power relations in the image
The power relation reveal here in this cover is equal, though the image of Chairman Mao is much bigger than the back shadow of the man, the shadow is tarnishing the portrait.

v. Kind of communication
It conveys the bilateral communication, since one is smearing the picture of Chairman Mao.

vi . Nature of relation between “China” and "others"
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3. Additional comments
i. Images/colors, etc
The red color of the brush makes the cover dramatic in a negative way.

ii. Group of images
It belongs to the group of images with Mao

iii. Comment about supporting image
-

iv. Comments about heading
The heading of this cover is “Mao: Anatomie eines massenmörderes”, which means: “Mao: Anatomy of the Mass Murderer”. This heading uses a term which is hardly accepted by the Chinese, “the Mass Murderer”. In spite of some his mistakes in his late years, Chairman Mao is still widely and deeply respected all around China. When we mention his name, we usually add the word “Chairman” before his surname to show our respect. And it is absolutely a taboo to use the term of“Mass Murderer” to describe or define Chairman Mao. Here, Chairman Mao is defined as a mass murderer, which shows disrespect is a way that is unacceptable in China.

4. Rating of cover image
Hostile, as Chairman Mao, one of the most respected leader of China, also the symbol of independent and powerful China, is defiled and called as a mass murder. 5. Other comments

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Rating categories:
1. Hostile: An image that portrays China as impossible to have a dialogue with.
2. Not open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where it is possible, but not likely, to have a dialogue.
3. Neutral: An image that does not say anything about the possibility for dialogue
4. Open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where there is an openness to dialogue.
5. Very open to dialogue: An image that portrays China in a way where there is an active interest in a dialogue.