Important photographs have changed the world in a number of ways since the camera's inception. This is one of the more somber and chilling uses for a photograph.
Chinese history is a bit of an Achilles heel in my knowledge of history. China as a whole wasn't the subject of much on the British syllabuses and instead, Chairman Mao was one of the only figures to feature under the umbrella of studies on communism. The more I have learned about Mao and Maoism, the more horrified I have become. There are so many parallels to be drawn between 20th century China and modern day North Korea that it feels less like distant history and more like a horrifying precursor to current affairs under Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un.
In this video, Vox explores the photograph that revitalized a waning Maoism and helped push one of the deadliest cultural revolutions in history. On 16th July 1966, Chairman Mao at the age of 72 was photographed swimming across the Yangtze river at a ridiculous (and obviously fictional) rate, covering 15km in 65 minutes without showing any sort of fatigue to "demonstrate his battle-readiness." As far as publicist stunts by politicians go, this ended up being one of the most impactful in history, with the photograph being credited as one of the chief motivators for a bloody revolution and the Red Guards. The image has become iconic and is still seen on every anniversary of the date up to the the modern day.
Read more about the events surrounding this pictures here.