Monday, November 23, 2015

Number 1817: The desensitized

A illustration from First Love #35 (1953) is shown in Dr. Wertham’s anti-comics book, Seduction of the Innocent, with a panel lifted from the story, “Forbidden to Love Him,” drawn by Bill Draut.

As I have mentioned before, comics with panels in Wertham’s book are identified and prized. Dr. W. took this shocking panel out of the larger context of the story. It was because of that caption naming the comic as First Love I thought it was a man slapping his wife or girlfriend. As I found by actually reading the story, it is a father slapping his daughter for daring to love an Indian. The story is about ugly racism. It doesn’t make the image less startling or unpleasant, but Wertham did not bother to tell his readers the subject was actually racism. That was one of his ways of selling his message. As far as a story on prejudice goes, it has a scant five pages to play out the drama.

Two more from the Pappy archives of SOTI stories. Just click on the thumbnails


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Wertham, like other censors, doesn't give a damn about the motivations for the violence shown.
I admit he had a point, as I've seen some comics (pre-code horrors, mostly) that were a little off the track with their gratuitous violence (my personal taste: I'm inclined to avoid extremes).
Wertham's approach to the problem was a fundamentalist one: Violence must not be shown to kids, pain and blood are to be banned. That's all.
Most of the violence (esp. in crime comics) was shown for moral purposes. He didn't care.
In a way his mental process resembles that of King Herod: "One of these brats eventually will give me troubles, this I know for sure. Eradicate all of them". Not very wise.
This mental attitude, I think, has caused more problems than the violence itself.
A silly example: if you think that little kids don't meditate on what they see, and are only capable of aping comics or TV, why show them an average episode of the A-Team, where a lot of firepower is happily squandered and nobody ever gets hurt?

Now, the story is really beautiful. It is indeed one of the most "crude" romance comics I've seen, and this puts it head and shoulders above the average romance.
The language used and the beatings the girl has to take add a feeling of realism, and even the art makes you think more of a horror or crime comic.
I've said "a feeling of realism", mind you, for the story remains UN-realistic in its simplistic conclusion. The "injun" happens to be a war hero, makes a speech, problem solved. Nah!
I remember the film "Animal House", where a cunning character named Otter turns the cards on the table with a speech: "You want to kick us out of college. But for this, this and this reason, kind sirs, if you do this, YOU ARE UN-AMERICAN!"
Nice trick, but they were expelled nonetheless.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Oh, by the way, I was forgetting.

"This month, the coveted Black Feather goes to that extraordinary excavator of musty and moldy Golden Age treasures, that indefatigable investigator of interracial romances.
Panoptical Pappy, I name you Indian of the Month!"

Alicia American said...

Y wuld peeps not like dudes from India yo?

Pappy said...

J D, gee, thanks for the award. I hate to brag, but I deserve it.

Years ago I read an article in a fanzine where someone wondered why conservatives hated horror comics, when the bad people always got justice served on them. In extreme and unpleasant ways, that is. But that was just comic books, sheer fantasy. You mentioned King Herod. For the history of humanity and "civilization" no horror comic book could live up to the true-life depravities committed on human beings by other humans. I think most horror comics look tame by comparison.

J D, you reminded me of the A-Team television program, which was produced under dictates to American television networks by pressure groups that were trying to tone down the violence. So you'd have a half-dozen guys walking into a scene with two dozen bad men shooting machine guns, and the good people never got hit despite the bullets being thick as a swarm of mosquitos in a swamp.

Some action movies still do that, to pretend that good guys never get shot. I think it is almost worse than showing the effects of bullets hitting a body.

Pappy said...

Alicia, Raj on the Big Bang Theory would ask the same.

Alicia American said...

Oh is Raj frm Indiana 2? If Raj is from their mayB Rerun is also yo! #Deepthots