From Shorpy



We are two days into the great Onion Oscar Tweet Controversy.

This is all over something tweeted - not spoken, not published. But it has had the same impact as if it had been spoken, broadcast, published, or circulated by other physical means. The distinctions don’t matter anymore.

In their place, new distinctions: if someone who had no media presence had tweeted the remark, it would have joined the quadrillion other jots of inanity that pepper the never-ending gush from the twitter gullet. I’ve seen worse. But if you are connected to a legitimate media outlet - i.e., something that’s been around a while, has a brand, a reputation, backers, ads, and of course an app - then you are held to a different standard. You’re expected to behave, and in case there was any question about what qualifies as acceptable behavior, using the C word in reference to a nine-year-old girl is not good.

Apparently we needed clarification on that.

The remark wasn’t funny, which doesn’t matter. And it usually doesn’t matter if someone uses the Joke Defense, as if you get shielded from blowback if your intention was simply lulz generation. But it does matter here, because the joke was not about the child, but Oscar snark and backbiting chatter, empty celeb culture, and so on.

Step back for a second. This critic, weighing in to defend the Onion on meta grounds, notes an earlier tweet:

Oscars Fashion Report: Kathryn Bigelow Stuns On Red Carpet Wearing Blood-Soaked Rags Osama Bin Laden Was Killed In

If “Kathryn Bigelow Stuns On Red Carpet Wearing Blood-Soaked Rags Osama Bin Laden Was Killed In” offends you, it’s worth thinking about why that offends you.

It didn’t and it doesn’t and I won’t. But:

Is the concept of even Osama Bin Laden’s blood-soaked rags being paraded about like a trophy offensive... and if it is, what does that say about the actions of the American government after 9/11 and Hollywood’s followup (in making a movie about it)?

Note the shift from parading around the bloody jumpsuit of Bin Laden to “the actions after 9/11,” conveniently missing mention of a certain someone who, I believe, took a few victory laps about bin Laden’s death, and whose campaign incorporated the event into a campaign rally slogan reminding us bin Laden was dead and GM was alive. As for Hollywood making a movie about the matter, I guess that’s bad.

Or are you offended by the idea that you’re supposed to be offended by the idea that the likes of Bin Laden deserves any respect in death?

There are probably people like that and they are horrible bores.

There aren’t any easy responses to this. There aren’t supposed to be.

On the contrary. Laughter.

I freely confess to being stunned by that tweet from the Onion,

A sentence that sums up 2013 perfectly.

partly because it’s provocative in a way that we hardly see in American pop culture. Very few individuals or entities have the nerve to be so challenging to our preconceived notions and to what we accept without even thinking about it.

Well, there’s the Onion, which has been doing this for many years, and seen its particular sensibility go mainstream. And I suspect that if Seth McFarlane had used his MC position to issue a series of jokes about drone strikes, interrupting the First Lady's Jumbotron appearance, this would not have been seen as challenging our preconceived notions.

It would have been disrespectful. And it would have been. But since when is that bad?

Anyway. The author then goes on to defend the tweet as a particularly brutal reminder of what women in Hollywood go through, and as such, it is theoretically defensible as a lesson, but individually regrettable inasmuch as the object was a nine-year-old girl. That’s more or less what I thought, except I have no interest in defending it even in theory, because:

I am so tired of these people’s love of naughty, naughty words. Their delight in using them in all situations about all people in all places at all times.

Another critic took to the internet to denounce the Onion, but took pains to tell us what a free-spirited pro-expression artist she is:

I find it appalling to police comedy. I find it appalling to list one's resumé credits to make a point. But I also find it appalling to hide behind the Great Wall of Satire in half-assed defense of the denigration of a child, so I say all bets are off. Let's get appalling up in this bitch.

As Condoleezza Rice in "You're Welcome, America: A Final Night with George W. Bush," I simulated sex on top of a desk and rubbed my ass on Will Ferrell's leg 8 times a week on a Broadway stage. Don't tell me about satire.

No, I don’t think I will.

Personally, I can't believe I'm here again. Typing out words to appear on this page to dissect humor. I'd rather yank out my own eyeball and get f***ed in the eye socket by a syphilitic d*ck.

This is what I love the most: all of a sudden, there’s a boundary! A useful and important one, at that. You spend your whole life erasing boundaries in the name of Satire, pride yourself on your untrammeled tongue, and shazam it turns out that your work and the work of so many others has coarsened the culture in a way that was just so brave and absolutely delightful riiiight up until the moment when you were appalled.

It may be a kid who’s injured now, but you’ll get used to it.

If not, and you complain, please tell all the people laughing at your old outmoded values how you used to be edgy too. It’ll mean so much. There’s nothing, after all, they’ll respect more than your traditions.







It's Tuesday, and that means it's time for lessons in American Shilling. Well, Shilling in the east, McCormick in the west. The stories behind familiar products! Old commercials! Wikipedia quotes to pad out the Bleat!

One of the many mysteries of feminine behavior from childhood: the PERMANENT.


The Permanent what? I wondered. Why must a Permanent be done again and again? Of course, Wikipedia is a great help. A permanent

involves the use of chemicals to break and reform the bonds of the hair. The hair is washed and wrapped on a perm rod and waving lotion is applied with a base. This solution creates a chemical reaction that softens the inner structure of the hair by breaking some of the cross links within and between the protein chains of the hair. The hair swells, stretches and softens, then molds around the shape of the perm rod.

The picture that goes with the entry:


Wow. It looks like she is being controlled by an Art-Deco mollusk. The article has a series of insane machines for salon perms, including this one:


You can understand the appeal of a home perm, I guess. I didn’t know this: the Toni home permament kit originated in Minnesota. Forest Lake, to be precise. Which made it all the way to Australia.



Hah! Those people and their hair that is different from our hair now.

Which is what, really? I suppose it's hard to see current styles as being anything but the Way Things Are until they're not, but this does not seem to be an age of unusual hair. No signature looks. No flips, no boufs, no Farrah-curls, no Dorothy Hamill trademark look, no Jen From Friends. Unless I'm missing something.



I’ve always liked the taste of this stuff. The old bottle:



By the dose at the druggist's fountain! The Fountain is gone, as is the idea of going to the drugstore for a single dose of the pink stuff. It was invented in 1901 and marked under the merry name of Cholera Infantum. Doctors been using bismuth to stop up hinders for years - and it's an element, by the way. You don’t think of elements as things you use to quiet hectic guts, but there it is. It’s a heavy metal and it’s slightly radioactive.

I never saw this. I am glad I never saw this. Sixteen seconds:



Because everything has to be a joke. Here's how they sold it in 1983, complete with the sign of the future, the GRID:




Now, back a few decades, where everything is explained, and the imprimatur of HOSPITALS is bestowed:







I’ve done this product before. Sweet malt powder with supposed health benefits. I did not know they had a mascot, let alone one whose arm is connected directly to her hip:



Things I've recently learned about Ovaltine: English culture had its own take on Ovaltine, which lead to a children’s radio show, the Ovaltineys. It ran in the 30s and 40s, so naturaly the compilation of their songs uses a cliched font from the 1960s. The same page has a book given to children, and I can't link directly to it because the site has some bizarre URL scheme. The logo:


Don't bother googling; there's a modern building on the site now, the Huxley Building, Imperial College of London. It houses "The Center for Pervasive Sensing," among other things. It is entirely likely that many who studied there were enthusiasts of the Ovaltineys when they were young.





For a while, a human grown woman dressed like Peter Pan, for reasons I can’t imagine. Wikipedia is likewise incredulous:

In earlier versions of the product, Peter Pan was clearly pictured as a woman in a Peter Pan costume, rather than as a boy. [1] This would have fitted very nicely into the then-usual tradition of having the character played by an actress in J.M. Barrie's play or the musical made from it, were it not for the fact that the model used for the peanut butter label appeared very feminine, with long hair and a green skirt, unlike the actresses who had played Peter onstage.

This was the mid-50s, which saw so many innovations in food, including Chunk Style. “Derby” was the name Swift & Co. used for non-meat things.





You can count "washing the sand out of spinach" as one of the things people never worry about anymore. Numberless bags of the stuff in the store, all pre-washed.

Or perhaps not.



Usual usual here and there - hit those buttons below! And I'll see you around.













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