Video Game Fan Art Mistaken for Historic WWI Propaganda

Team Fortress 2 poster by TankTaur.
Courtesy TankTaur, via DeviantArt.

A video game fan’s vintage-style artwork claiming that “Soldiers Eat Babies” was sufficiently convincing to fool the makers of the Russian documentary series “World War I” into including the image in a segment on US propaganda during WWI, the International Business Times reports.

An artist who goes by TankTaur originally posted the image—which shows a monster-like soldier about to ingest a crying baby accompanied by text urging viewers to join a clan in the wildly popular multi-player video game Team Fortress 2—on DeviantArt in 2009, but Russia’s Channel One took the image to be much, much older.

“My third and final poster for the TF2 Propaganda contest,” the artist wrote in 2009. “The message is rather outrageous, but that’s what propaganda is for, to make your enemies look bad.” The artist added an update to the listing recently: “Apparently this was featured on Russian television as an example of actual historical US propaganda. It’s an easy mistake to make, I’m sure.”

Apparently so. As the Channel One documentary has it, the poster was one of the crude works of propaganda art created at the behest of the United States Committee on Public Information. The documentary’s narrator explains: “The American public had to firmly acknowledge that Germans are evil…Britain was virtually drowning in the ocean of posters and leaflets. Its horror-propaganda would churn out new and heartbreaking accounts.”

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