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TOO-GAY DRINKING
March 8, 2012 8:39 AM   Subscribe

A magazine from the 1940s illustrates 'Television Taboos' from the time as salaciously as possible.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (68 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
As salaciously as was possible in the 1940s.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:41 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


TOO-GAY DRINKING ... lol
posted by odinsdream at 8:43 AM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


KRUSTY:

And now, a special treat. My TV debut on "The Milk of Magnesia Summer Cavalcade."

[A screen lowers]

Let's watch.

[The black-and-white debut of Krusty is shown on the screen. Krusty, suspended by a harness near his waist, "flies" above a stage]

Look at me! I'm Kaputnick, the Russian satellite!

[The harness cinches up around his private members]

Agh! Oh, the bolshoi's doing the nutcracker in my pants!

[audience in the clip gasps]

Back then, you couldn't say "pants" on TV. I was banned for ten years.
posted by griphus at 8:46 AM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not gay unless the tumblers clink
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:47 AM on March 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


AND THAT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IS WHY THE FUTURE IS MAGAZINES
posted by bicyclefish at 8:51 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, see? TV censors prevented this sort of thing in the 40's - and look how boring and inhibited the 50's were! Let that be a lesson to you, MPAA...
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:53 AM on March 8, 2012


She mustn't swoon.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:53 AM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


The whole spread looks like the (typically) awkward set-up to a porno.

In the "too-tight sweater" shot, much of her torso is bare, as are her legs. Is that OK because it's some faux-swimsuit look, where ladies can bare their legs (ref: last photo)? Oh wacky standards, you're so wacky!
posted by filthy light thief at 8:54 AM on March 8, 2012


While I don't agree with them, I understand the ones that are related, however vaguely, to sexuality. The drinking one, though? Oh my, we certainly can't show people enjoying alcohol! That might inspire the viewers to pour themselves another after they finish the one that they're already holding! After all, no one drank liquor in the '40s, only those Hollywood devil-worshippers.
posted by asnider at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2012


Too gay drinking? Man I'm never gonna get on TV in the 40s *kicks rock*
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2012 [16 favorites]


"Can't show any part of thigh unless whole thigh is exposed" reminds me of my elementary school rule about gum.
posted by DU at 9:03 AM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the "too-tight sweater" shot, much of her torso is bare, as are her legs. Is that OK because it's some faux-swimsuit look, where ladies can bare their legs (ref: last photo)? Oh wacky standards, you're so wacky!

It's o.k. because this is a magazine which isn't bound by TV regulations.
posted by yoink at 9:07 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm far more concerned by the fact that the men are so buttoned up and serious while the women next to them are half-dressed and look like they're having fun. Growing up in the 80s the ideals were similar to these. It seems that from the 60-80 people were more free than in the 90s and aughts when we put WAY to many clothes on and (if the mall I went to recently is any indication) we're getting back to the age of a lot of skin.

I'm both thrilled and worried for my kids. I had to work pretty hard to see even a shoulder or knee in the age of grunge flannels and overalls. That wasn't necessarily bad (or good). Thank god I worked as a lifeguard or I might have completely lost it wondering what was going on under all those layers.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:09 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Too much bust...as you can see by the shocked expression worn by the director.

I think I noticed the bust without the directors help.
posted by Hicksu at 9:10 AM on March 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm disappointed none of the models was Bettie Page.
posted by Gelatin at 9:12 AM on March 8, 2012


Also, I suddenly miss my grandma. I hope that is an indication of how cool she was and not some kind of Freudian thing...
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:14 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well no wonder...
posted by infini at 9:14 AM on March 8, 2012


This would have been ratings gold.
posted by oddman at 9:14 AM on March 8, 2012


The originating site (Retronaut) also has a ranty kids-off-my-lawn essay and some pretty good reader comments, while the reblogger (Flavorwire) just rips off the photos.
posted by ardgedee at 9:14 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess the twin-beds in the parents bedroom, and no-toilet rules weren't quite as fun to show pictures of ..
posted by k5.user at 9:15 AM on March 8, 2012


The 'Too-Gay Drinking' photo is made even funnier by the fact that buddy is also in the 'Too Much Lingerie' pic, checking out someone who is not the woman in underwear standing right in front of him.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:15 AM on March 8, 2012


If the smooching gets as hot as the picture at right...

*looks at picture of man kissing woman on cheek*

*fans self*
posted by brundlefly at 9:17 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The drinking one, though? Oh my, we certainly can't show people enjoying alcohol!

Keep in mind this was only 16 years after the repeal of Prohibition. Alcohol consumption of any sort still had a whiff of scandal about it for many people.
posted by scalefree at 9:17 AM on March 8, 2012


I guess the twin-beds in the parents bedroom, and no-toilet rules weren't quite as fun to show pictures of ..

Or too taboo to even mention. As were pregnant women, until Lucy came along.
posted by scalefree at 9:20 AM on March 8, 2012


asnider: " The drinking one, though? Oh my, we certainly can't show people enjoying alcohol!"

That one went on through at least the 80's, actually.
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take them in a time machine and show them a bit of Spartacus: Vengeance or Californication or Shameless or any of the other pay-TV raunchfests. Their heads would explode.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2012


Mefites: permitted to wear a dressing gown -- if they're married.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


God his suit is Illfitting, even for gigantic 40s suit standards.

So this is basically the apex of blatant " oh no dear readers we couldn't possibly show you the wanton depravity, here are some more examples of things we can never show you!" thing?
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


THE SHOCKED EXPRESSION WORN BY THE DIRECTOR.

yes. shocked, he is.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2012


I dunno Rhomboid, pre code Movies where pretty uh , blatant, and if you didn't mind mucking up with the lower orders you could see the most amazingly pornographic stuff on stage. The polite fiction of media was just that.
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2012


It appears that Retronaut got it from Retrospace, although the Retrospace format is not as picture friendly. But still, props to the original poster.
posted by redsparkler at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2012


DU: ""Can't show any part of thigh unless whole thigh is exposed" reminds me of my elementary school rule about gum"

At a routine checkup, my sister complained to the pediatrician about her teacher telling her, "Unless you have a note from the doctor, you can't chew gum in class." SO the ped gave her a note to chew gum, saying she needed to "exercise her uvula".
posted by notsnot at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm sure I remembered an interview with Barbara Eden that even in the 60s her first costume for I Dream of Jeannie had to cover up her belly button as that would have broken the rules.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:25 AM on March 8, 2012


I totally agree with the thigh rule, though: all or nothin'!
posted by The Deej at 9:27 AM on March 8, 2012


I like how it's only ok to show some thigh if the lady is wearing a swimsuit. It's that same weird contextualization in play that says wearing underwear in public is bad, but a bikini is ok. Flesh is flesh!

Smooth, delicious flesh.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 AM on March 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't know what kind of proto-Three's-Company show this was, but I'd certainly watch.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:29 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


After such lewd and rauchy material, I feel the irresistable urge to run off and listen to rock and roll and some reefer!
posted by Samizdata at 9:31 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You still see the arbitrary rules on TV, breastplate with nipples on it lying on the chair, fine, but put it on and Suddently you need to blur it. Nude artist models, blur it out, painting or drawing of said nude model, totally fine.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on March 8, 2012


Whoa there Samizdata, don't get any crazy ideas and stop purchasing consumer items. What would the neighbors think? Just keep a tight lid on your emotions there, you don't want to be mistaken for an immigrant.
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2012


The drinking one, though? Oh my, we certainly can't show people enjoying alcohol!

Today we're experiencing a near-ban on smoking in movies, and many TV shows have followed. And even cartoons from that era have been sanitized to avoid offending our modern sensibilities.

Things have certainly changed, but not as much as we'd like to think. It's just different taboos now.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:33 AM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I totally agree with the thigh rule, though: all or nothin'!

This is crazy, the ideal amount of thigh is between half and three quarters; the amount of a short or hiked up skirt. Of course, all the reasons I find this ideal are the same reasons they weren't allowed on television.

It seems that from the 60-80 people were more free than in the 90s and aughts when we put WAY to many clothes on

Your memory of the 90s and aughts is different than mine. I can also safely cross you off the list of MeFites I'm not sure aren't my secretly my father.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:36 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]




The Whelk: "Whoa there Samizdata, don't get any crazy ideas and stop purchasing consumer items. What would the neighbors think? Just keep a tight lid on your emotions there, you don't want to be mistaken for an immigrant."

But I hear the immigrants have the best music and reefer!
posted by Samizdata at 9:43 AM on March 8, 2012


We do, Samizdata. We also have better food.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:45 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


madcaptenor: "We do, Samizdata. We also have better food."

I hear food is swell after some reefer!
posted by Samizdata at 9:47 AM on March 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Each one of those images is a comically literal visual representation of male gaze.
posted by codacorolla at 9:47 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Methinks this is from a men's magazine and is actually stealth porn, pre-Playboy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:49 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apparently children's shows in Texas had some sort of exemption...
posted by jim in austin at 9:51 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of Bollywood's century long ban on kissing (although wet sari shots were permitted)
posted by infini at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Methinks this is from a men's magazine and is actually stealth porn, pre-Playboy.

Yeah, viewed in context this makes a lot more sense. First, there were actual porn magazines around then, so this wasn't as salacious "as possible." It was possible to be more salacious in really blue magazines. But there was also this Cosmo/Maxim-level publication which wasn't a porn mag, oh heavens no, just a gents' or ladies' magazine that framed risque content in such a way as to allow the publishers some deniability that they were just publishing sleaze. Lots of the Hollywood magazines walked this lines, and there were a lot of 'story' magazines, especially aimed at women, that pretty much featured erotica, as long as there was some moral at the end or some other way of indicating this was a cautionary tale.

With this article, the entire thing is written in wink-wink, nudge-nudge format. They're laughing at television's modesty, but reveling in the magazine's ability to be sportier, while at the same time stopping short of overtly endorsing the sportiness.

If you spend time with a lot of 40s-50s media you start to get a better sense of the layered game that was going on here. Some media of the 20s and 30s - not radio though - were actually more openly sexual at times.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd like to take them in a time machine and show them a bit of Spartacus: Vengeance or Californication or Shameless or any of the other pay-TV raunchfests. Their heads would explode.

Fuck those motherfucking shows. Strap those hooplehead cocksuckers into a chair, Clockwork Orange style, and show them a Best Of Al Motherfucking Swearingen continuous loop. Their fucking heads will start to motherfucking melt.

Then tell that the the most socially objectionable words he says are "Chink" and, if he does say that from time to motherfucking time, "nigger."

Then their fucking heads will have my fucking leave to explode. Not until then.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:13 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your memory of the 90s and aughts is different than mine. I can also safely cross you off the list of MeFites I'm not sure aren't my secretly my father.

Fair enough but in my version of the 90s it was rare to see even a bit of cleavage due to the heavy flannel and long-sleeved everything. And I can tell you without a doubt that I am not secretly your father, as hard as I tried in the 90s that just wasn't happening...
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you spend time with a lot of 40s-50s media you start to get a better sense of the layered game that was going on here. Some media of the 20s and 30s - not radio though - were actually more openly sexual at times.

Most people’s views of the past, even the recent past, are pretty warped. It’s not like you would have had viewers at home fainting if these things were on.

Today we're experiencing a near-ban on smoking in movies, and many TV shows have followed. And even cartoons from that era have been sanitized to avoid offending our modern sensibilities.

Things have certainly changed, but not as much as we'd like to think. It's just different taboos now.


Exactly. I grew up with a pretty constant stream of hit songs on the radio about having sex with 16 year old girls. People would lose their freakin minds now.
posted by bongo_x at 10:50 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


asnider: " The drinking one, though? Oh my, we certainly can't show people enjoying alcohol!"

That one went on through at least the 80's, actually.


Commercials for beer and wine still don't show anyone actually drinking said beer or wine.
posted by tommasz at 10:58 AM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really don't think this generation of war veterans who spent years watching people be maimed, dismembered and destroyed in between R&R with prostitutes and performers at hoochie-coochie locations would honestly have their heads exploding, no, having seen plenty of real heads really explode and real sex trade happening, or the very least read and heard about those experiences at a small remove.

I think they'd find the idea that sitting down to that stuff in a comfortable, safe domestic environment and watching it as family enjoyment is kind of weird, but that's as far as it goes. There's no way in hell people were less sophisticated or sexual or any of the rest of it than we are today. The social mores about where and when those things - and depiction of those things - belong, though, has changed. I think in general that for these reasons generations prior to the Boomers were far better at layering, disguised communications, and code-switching.

Read some oral histories of the World War II era -- you may be surprised.
posted by Miko at 11:02 AM on March 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Could we get an NSFW warning here please?!
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


FINALLY: my regularly scheduled too-gay drinking has a double meaning.
posted by herbplarfegan at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2012


I'm sure I remembered an interview with Barbara Eden that even in the 60s her first costume for I Dream of Jeannie had to cover up her belly button as that would have broken the rules.

I suspect there's a certain amount of mythologizing around Barbara Eden's navel. Navels were actually shown pretty routinely on TV at that time. I suspect what would have troubled the censors about Barbara Eden was that this was not a "we're going to the beach" costume or a "OMG, she's a bad girl" costume but her everyday costume. Thus their insistence on the high waist--which remained high for the entire run of the series (there are publicity shots with Barbara Eden's navel fully revealed, but her standard costume on the show always went just over the bellybutton).
posted by yoink at 11:31 AM on March 8, 2012



Keep in mind this was only 16 years after the repeal of Prohibition. Alcohol consumption of any sort still had a whiff of scandal about it for many people.

Obviously someone hasn't seen The Thin Man!
posted by peppermind at 11:31 AM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


From Here To Eternity was a bit later than this, but it's no wonder why this scene caused such a stir.
posted by jquinby at 11:34 AM on March 8, 2012


From Here To Eternity was a bit later than this, but it's no wonder why this scene caused such a stir.

TV standards were, as they still are, different from movie standards.
posted by yoink at 11:45 AM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like how it's only ok to show some thigh if the lady is wearing a swimsuit. It's that same weird contextualization in play that says wearing underwear in public is bad, but a bikini is ok.

An ice-cream themed interrogation of this dichotomy from my native land.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:12 PM on March 8, 2012


You still see the arbitrary rules on TV, breastplate with nipples on it lying on the chair, fine, but put it on and Suddently you need to blur it. Nude artist models, blur it out, painting or drawing of said nude model, totally fine.

I was likewise baffled by that while watching Drag Race and Work of Art, respectively.
posted by modernserf at 1:17 PM on March 8, 2012


I only go too-gay drinking for the music.
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on March 8, 2012


I'd like to take them in a time machine and show them a bit of Spartacus: Vengeance or Californication or Shameless or any of the other pay-TV raunchfests. Their heads would explode.

You understand that the men who were coming up with these censorship guidelines were the same men who were drunk off their asses by lunch every day in the middle of the day, and the same men who made the donkey shows of Tijuana into A Thing? Guys who would make Don Draper look like a Shaker?

The degree of disparity between what was considered "proper" and what really went down in the 1940s and 1950s is intense. Someone should write a book about the US entertainment and advertising industry a la Steven Marcus's The Other Victorians.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:26 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, what Miko said about war, hardship, etc. But it's not like the word "fuck" didn't exist until someone said it on TV.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:26 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You understand that the men who were coming up with these censorship guidelines were the same men who were drunk off their asses by lunch every day in the middle of the day

In a way. It was as much about self-censorship as a means to avoid legal censorship as anything, similar to video games today, comics in the 1950s, and so on. The networks, in particular, were very aware that while they produced material in cosmopolitan New York and Los Angeles, much of their audience was in the great middle. It might even be more accurate to say that their advertisers made them painfully aware of it.

I suspect there's a certain amount of mythologizing around Barbara Eden's navel. Navels were actually shown pretty routinely on TV at that time.

William Ware Theiss, costume designer for Star Trek, said in one of the show memoirs that he was able to wrap actresses in any manner of creative ways -- except the network wouldn't let them show the underside of the breast. He quipped, "Maybe they thought a fungus grew there."

Related to my above point, this could certainly have varied by network, by show demographic, by broadcast time in the evening, and even by advertiser reluctance. There just wasn't a common standard. Even the MPAA ratings system, by contrast, was something of a mystery to many directors.

I really don't think this generation of war veterans who spent years watching people be maimed, dismembered and destroyed

There were such veterans, but a surprising number of WWII vets either never saw combat, or only once.
posted by dhartung at 1:10 PM on March 9, 2012


Sure, but you know, though some did not a whole bunch of them did, including every one in my family, who are not uncommon in this way.

There are a lot of estimates that lean toward about 1/3 of active duty military on or near combat front lines. And then given that the percentage of the population at large who were enlisted in some military unit (about 1 out of 9) was so high, the incidence of war experiences - both first- and secondhand, in terms of having witnessed war conditions - in the general population was also high - far, far higher than the same incidence today.

Taking the US Census statistical abstract data, 16.1 million served during the war; the casualty list includes 292,000 killed in combat, 114,000 killed otherwise, and 671,000 wounded for a total of 1,077,000 people who were physically impacted by combat - for almost 7% of the enlisted population, and 3/4 of a percent of the general population of the US. And that's not all people who saw combat, but just people who got hurt or killed.

And even if you're in that number that didn't "see" combat by being near it, lots of those folks were in medical and support and certainly saw the impact, whether they worked in field hospitals or established bases in newly recovered territory and got to help pick up the pieces of the civilian population.

Though most wars involve many more people than actually aim weapons on the front lines, I would really hesitate to minimize the widespread impact of combat experience on this generation.
posted by Miko at 2:31 PM on March 9, 2012


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