Monday, January 24, 2011

grotesque bigotry of the 1950s New Yorker

While trying to figure out who the Willie the Whaler artist is, I was looking at the work of Alain, aka Daniel Brustlein - I bought "Alain's Steeplechase" a collection of his cartoons from the 1950s.

I was really shocked by the sexism and racism of Alain's cartoons. Not that he was the only cartoonist doing such things. And it's possible that he didn't come up with the ideas, just drew ideas given him. But he did take money for it - on the other hand, it's likely that any cartoonist of the time who refused to draw bigoted cartoons would find himself quickly out of work.

Alain's work is slightly less sexist than the New Yorker of that period - there's an ongoing theme of stupid women during that period, especially stupid fat middle-aged wealthy women; and cave women being bashed on the head by cave men.

But Alain did provide some misogyny:



The entire cartoon is not visible here, but the gag is that the woman scientist stops in the middle of an experiment to talk and talk and talk on the phone and the test tubes overflow but the results turn out to be good anyway, so she's rewarded for accidentally doing something right. And this was at a time when it was legal to discriminate on the basis of gender in hiring, and there were almost no women scientists.

But women get off easy compared to Mexicans. Here are only five of the many "lazy Mexican" themed cartoons in the book I bought:


This Mexican is such a slacker they built the railroad tracks around his sloth.



In this cartoon (I excerpted) the gag is that she throws and fires a clay pot just to smash it over his lazy head.



Oh what a surprise - Senor Diaz is sleeping on the job.


Look - in Mexico you can buy a fashionable ensemble to wear while you sleep the day away.


But just because they are lazy it doesn't mean Mexican men are stupid - in this sequence a Mexican man devises a leash for the baby so that the baby can walk and the woman can carry the lazy Mexican man on her back.

This is not to say that black men are any more enterprising.


The caption for this cartoon is the white man saying to the black men: "Now could you just hold that pose?"

Of course it's not entirely the fault of the black men - as this cartoon demonstrates, laziness just automatically happens once you head south.


The milestone in the middle panel is unreadable here, but it says "Mason Dixon Line." Not only people but horses and monkeys become slothful in the South as this cartoon shows.

OK, that's enough. I'm plenty nauseated.

It strikes me that the New Yorker's view of Mexicans is very similar to Joe Quirk's view of cats - they just laze around all the time. In Quirk's view, people never do that - we're always up and about doing things.

But of course Joe Quirk would not support such anti-Mexican bigotry. The way that you can tell old-tyme sociobiology from modern evolutionary psychology is that while sociobiology claims that different ethnic behaviors AND different gender behaviors are innate and evolved, evolutionary psychology only claims that different gender behaviors are innate and evolved. Which is why they can go around making outrageous claims about women and then act all hurt if you accuse them of sexism - aw shucks, they were only doing pure disinterested science. Only their critics have a political ax to grind, not them, no never ever them.

This is why people who whine about "political correctness" are so annoying - they seem to have no idea how vicious and freewheeling the bigotry was back when nothing was considered politically incorrect.

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