Pop culture and other perspectives with an artistic P.O.V. By Mike Pascale.
All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).
First, THANK YOU to everyone who supported the sixth annual WOMEN OF WONDER DAY in Portland and Texas. You did well!
Although I write this from an artist’s point of view, I do like to put on my writer hat now and then.
Here’s a few words and images previously innocent but changed (or ruined) forever:
1. AYDS diet pills.
Anyone over 40 should remember these commercials on TV for the AYDS diet plan back in the ‘80s.
I don’t recall what the name stood for, but I know they promoted it mnemonically as “A-Y-D-S.” The lines, “Why don’t you let AYDS help you lose weight” and the tag, “AYDS helps you stay the way you want to be” soon meant something completely different–and tragic. Wonder how long it took them to pull it off the market.
2. The word “niggard” and its adjective, “niggardly.”
A niggard is a mean miser and niggardly means “miserly.” The latter’s been in use since the 16th century, the former before that. But in today’s undereducated, oversensitive, PC American society, they get confused with a racial slur. Some poor educated bastard on a school board once used “niggardly” in a presentation to his peers about stingy state government and they practically lynched him! Completely out of ignorance. If I recall correctly, he had to publicly apologize and resign amongst accusations of racism.
Sadly, no one on the board resigned for stupidity. And no one dares use either word now unless he knows he’s talking privately to others who know what it means.
3. The Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy mustache.
Utterly ruined after WW II because of a megalomaniacal former house-painter douchebag.
Tell your friends you’re growing a “Chaplin mustache” and they won’t know what you’re talking about. Show up with one and get labelled a Nazi!
[Charlie Chaplin did put his similarity of look to Hitler to spectacular use in his very first “talking picture”, The Great Dictator. Follow this link to see a bit of Charlie’s genius. -Craig]
4. Speaking of Nazis, they also ruined the swastika.
This was an ancient symbol of good luck and religion for several cultures, from Europe to Asia to South America to North America, from Mayans to Christians to–not making this up–the friggin’ Boy Scouts. Been around since the Bronze Age (for my fellow comic fans, that’s roughly 2500 to 1300 BC, not the 1970s).
Imagine all those who used it before WW II and what an awkward transition afterwards. What if you gave a Jewish or German friend an old family heirloom with a swastika on it for a birthday or wedding gift to bring them luck? There goes that friendship. Stupid, stupid Nazis! As if we needed more reasons to hate ‘em.
5. Gay, Queer, Homo.
Gay used to mean “carefree, bright and happy.” Queer meant “odd.” “Homo” used to be short for “homogenized. I know both gay and straight people that are carefree or odd, but now we can’t use those terms for either group without bringing sexuality into it.
I remember when the lexicon publicly changed for “queer.” It was an early 80s episode of WKRP IN CINCINNATI. The nerdish weatherman, Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), was labelled a homosexual after a reporter misunderstood a colleague’s comment at a party–“Queer little fellow, isn’t he?”. Archie Bunker used it derogatorily for gays in the ‘70s, but this show made it official and unquestionable.
As a kid, I distinctly remember certain cartons of milk labelled as “Homo milk” as kind of a “hip” abbreviation. (Yes, I’m old enough to remember when homogenization was important enough to put on a label! Long before fat content took precedence.) I’d kill to see it make a comeback: “Homo milk” and “Hetero Milk.” The ad campaigns write themselves!
Now the best for last:
Another case where the slang term outshone and took over the standard one. Believe it or not, “boner” used to mean “mistake.” Probably until the early 60s. This time, however, I’m not old enough to remember! In my teens, I once read an old Batman reprint where he said, “Looks like I pulled a boner, Robin!” and nearly giggled my head off its hinges. But that pales in comparison to this tale from BATMAN #36:
Even women have to snicker at this gem by Bill Finger (ooh, two for one)! And they wonder why Batman and Robin had gay overtones (not the “bright and happy” kind either!) Click on either “boner” image above and it’ll bring you to this entire crazy “Boner” story.
P.S.: Don’t YOU pull a boner and miss your chance for a cool piece of art of a gay or straight Zorro, or any other character, with or without a Hitler mustache! Ask Craig here.