The Best Of The Worst
Will someone please tell me why these men’s magazines all have covers of Nazis doing absolutely horrible things to attractive women? What is the turn-on of the “bad guys” burning, freezing, branding, mummifying, and cutting up American-looking “babes”? What dark part of the male psyche wants this? Is it because the magazines thought even good American guys, deep down, wanted the power to treat women as objects, playthings to be used and treated well or badly as the men wished? Did men actually like it?
Where did this particular twisted fantasy come from? Anybody?
It’s a joke! The covers are so ludicrously kitsch that the illustrators and blurb writers must’ve been in stiches! Some of the poor buggers that bought the mags might’ve taken ’em seriously – and that’s an even bigger joke!
Perhaps it was just the time-frame 1950s was the end of the Korean War, the rumblings of Vietnam, McCarthyism, the threat of Nuclear War instigated by Russia and a general atmosphere of the wholesome family with Father Knows Best at the head–so it was a slightly uneasy time fearing the Commies but a staid atmosphere too with prosperity and the post-war economics going along at a great pace. Everyone had a job, a family life, good schooling, or so it seemed….Then in the 1960s came the Love Freedom and Burn the Bra revolution where all the morals of a good church-going family, a good steady job were pushed aside.
So to me these covers represent a definite escapism from the wholly Holy life into one of illicit daring and adventure. The Hero is almost always a good American man.
The violence against the women was part of that fantasy and the depiction of Nazis as the general bad guy was because Nazi-ism is always going to appear as the ultimate evil. But there were devious South Americans (mainly from Cuba) and various Asian type bad dudes too–to represent China and the aforementioned North Koreans and Vietcong and the women represent the pure innocent USA. It is all about representational images to catch the eye.
But unfortunately in the Father Knows Best society there was a lot of hidden violence against spouses and with women in general, especially at the rise of Feminism, as it is today as well so no doubt some readers got off on what was really an escapist fantasy type scenario and a safe-guard to blow off steam in a perhaps overbearing tension-filled atmosphere of unspoken fear of the Commies mainly–believing as these readers did that it was the right and proper way to treat a lady.
But of course the MAIN reason for these covers was THAT IT SOLD THE MAGAZINES SO WELL…..and long may they remain a part of the great pulp art now so sadly missed.
Norm Eastman’s art.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.