Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Number 1479: Queen of Uranus

Snickering aside over the title of this little opus from Forbidden Worlds #78 (1959), this story is the kind that appears well-intentioned, but the result is not.

The message is if you aren’t beautiful, you don’t deserve to be loved. Poor Miss Purdy, she doesn’t doll herself up so she can’t attract a man or even have respect from the schoolchildren she teaches. Ah, but then an alien from Uranus arrives and he is smitten by Miss Purdy looking just the way she is! Of course, going by the values of the society from whence she comes she thinks, “If he loves me the way I look now, I should improve on my looks just for him.” It backfires in that case, and yet after that rejection Miss Purdy finds true happiness here on Earth with her students and principal by putting on a false face. Happy ending.

The story is drawn by Ogden Whitney, and written by the editor, Richard E. Hughes, using the name Thomas R. Drew. These are new scans. I showed this story before several years ago, and made the same complaints.


Gene Phillips said...

I'll give Richard Hughes this much: he might not have been especially insightful about feminine psychology, but he is at least making some attempt in this respect.

Basically, Miss Purdy (as in "you shore are purdy") isn't so much pursuing her own path as butting her head up against societal expectations. Her tension suggests to me that she doesn't have any philosophical reason for wanting not to get dolled up; she's masochistically enjoying the disapproval she gets from society in order to stage an ongoing "pity party." Didn't Aristotle say something about how the man who walks around with a hole in his clothing may be showing off just as much as the man who wears fine clothes?

The story's joke is that when Kryptos ("hidden") responds favorably to her dowdy looks, she doesn't exactly respond to him with such fervor. His appreciation, though, gives her the gumption to get gussied up, which wins her the approval of her peers-- which is arguably what she's really been after all along with her "dressing down."

Pappy said...

Gene, I worked mainly with women for over 30 years, and I wish I'd had you with me to interpret their psychology.

You've given me something to think about. Perhaps Gwendolyn was sexually repressed, and until her thinking was changed by Kryptos she had used her drabness as a shield against any man wanting her sexually.

Darci said...

Kryptos: "For centuries our universal television showed us faces here on Earth that were" ...

Back then I suppose a better term would be . Too bad we still fall for it.

AB said...

"Tricked out" (as in showy and dazzling) on the last page surprised me. I had thought this only existed as underground hotrod car slang in 1960, if it existed that early at all.

Pappy said...

AB, my mother used the phrase back in the fifties, sometimes alternating it with "decked out," meaning the same thing. "Tricked out" sounds more urban, and "decked out" may be a regionalism from her rural upbringing in Utah.