Growing pains

Propaganda interests me for its ability to colorfully illustrate the direction in which a context is developing – and what frightens those who run and live in it. I stumbled on to a wall of about fifty different panels on a late-night jaunt, and managed to capture the most noteworthy of the bunch (some of which are below). The main thread running through this particular set of murals in a small city in Yunnan province seems to be combatting the undesirable symptoms associated with certain aspects of development, with several plugs for the gullible proletariat threatened with being swallowed up in the course of progress. Would any of the below be relevant in your context? Consider which of these will still be relevant in twenty years from now, and what new threats to a harmonious society will appear on this wall.

“Beware of telephone-based swindling”


80’s Glam Rocker: “These things are great. Eat them and you’ll be able to dance really cool/fresh. I’ll give you a taste.”

Spiderman fanboy: “This is the legendary Ecstasy!”

Note: Ecstasy’s Chinese name is “head-shaking pills”.


“Schoolmate, you are overloaded!” This one is open to deeper interpretation, though most likely is meant to warn against the perils of overstressing/overloading your school age child with extracurricular activities (though perhaps all he really needs is a nanny, a car, and chauffer to lighten his load a bit).

“Illegal mining is the road to death” (although legal mining is not much better)



For all of the places I’ve been, nowhere have I seen talking-on-cellphone-while-bicycling (or scooter-ing) done more artfully, despite the inherent dangers portrayed here.


I won’t translate this sad tale of “Using a Cure-all Trickster”, but liked the artist’s technique of painting a numbered guide in the painting’s center to illustrate the passage of time. Needless to say, the commissioners of this propaganda mural suggests you not employ the services of shamans to heal your sick family members.


Finally, a bit of nightmare fuel: a man sports a face composed of the character “骗” (meaning “to trick, to fool”), sporting banners reading “Reduced Price” and “Cheap Sale”, while an enthusiastic man rushes towards him with a fat stack of 100’s, under the words “Be careful about shopping on the Internet”.

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