bioephemera

That’s one way to get bacon

If anything can put you off bacon, this awesome vintage French ad will!

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While the ad appears bizarre to us today, it makes sense in a different social context – one in which animals exist primarily to serve human needs, and all’s right with the world when they’re fulfilling that function.

I find it especially interesting to consider the parallel between this ad – a happy pig slicing itself up for consumption – and the tradition of human anatomical models holding their own innards open for examination. Bizarre and disturbing, yes – but mainly because we’re looking at them with modern eyes.

Check out more truly awful and disturbing ads at this hilarious post from Retro Comedy. There’re a couple of sexist doozies in there that would make great verbal dartboards for Sb’s sharp-tongued doyennes of feminism, Zuska and Isis, who (I hear) have just returned from hiatus. . . I shall particularly hope for their commentary on the following:

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Comments

  1. #1 Zuska
    July 6, 2009

    ZOMFG.

    And then there are men who wonder why women are so angry.

  2. #2 Isis the Scientist
    July 6, 2009

    HA HA HA! Are you baiting me, BioE?

  3. #3 becca
    July 6, 2009

    And there are humans who wonder why the pigs are so angry!
    I for one welcome our new porcine overloads. Or wait. Those far sides were about cows, weren’t they? Foiled again!

  4. #4 Jessica Palmer
    July 6, 2009

    Ah, the Far Side. *pleasant reverie*

  5. #5 Marcus Ranum
    July 6, 2009

    And then there are men who wonder why women are so angry.

    Any woman who gets angry at “men” for the actions of some dumbass marketing idiots’ actions in the 50′s and 60′s would also be unfairly over-generalizing. I.e.: “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

    I’ve never used the “woman as a carpet” metaphor professionally, and I wouldn’t (for example) so I won’t tolerate someone busting my chops over it. I make enough of my own mistakes that I don’t need to own those of another generation of men. :D

  6. #6 Emily
    July 6, 2009

    The “woman as carpet” ad reminds me, oddly enough, of the PETA ads which depict women wearing nothing but tiger-esque body paint and fake fur, in cages– even though the intent is completely different, there’s the same disturbingly fetishistic overtone.

  7. #7 Katie Peek
    July 6, 2009

    The blog Suicide Food is dedicated to animals volunteering themselves to be eaten by humans. In the grand tradition of that first image, apparently.

  8. #8 Jessica Palmer
    July 6, 2009

    How did I not know about suicide food??? It’s on my RSS feed now. Thanks much for the link!

  9. #9 becca
    July 6, 2009

    “I make enough of my own mistakes”
    Ya know, I didn’t understand why you were getting all insanely paranoid preemptively defensio (i.e. interpreting “men” as “me personally”).
    But then… I clicked through to your website- you are right. You make plenty of your own mistakes. The photos on there are artistically fascinating, but you are going to get yourself into all kinds of trouble with women. I couldn’t really blame anyone for joining in a “lynch mob” of feminists to ‘string you up’ like that and put up the photos online.

  10. #10 peter
    July 6, 2009

    I wonder if that’s where douglas adams got the idea for the meat of the day at the restaurant at the end of the universe…

  11. #11 Jessica Palmer
    July 6, 2009

    Oh for goodness’ sake.

    Marcus, Zuska said “and there are men who wonder why women are so angry,” not, “and there are men who wonder why women are so angry at all men.” Don’t overreact – there was nothing in the comment to “bust your chops”.

    You make a point on your website about using releases worded to ensure your models feel comfortable and respected. So I’m sure you understand that most women don’t appreciate the idea that we might deserve corporeal punishment for doing a poor job of shopping for our man, or that we are “meat” or “trophies” to be shot by rapacious male hunters. Don’t you agree we have the right to be angry at ads like this, that have weird overtones of domestic violence, and that frame these overtones not in an artistic setting that invites dissent and analysis, but in a commercial, household setting intended to sell us products? I mean, euw.

    That said, *I’m* not angry at you, or anyone, about these ads. I find these ads to be incredibly complex sociological ephemera of great interest from a gender studies perspective.

  12. #12 mmr
    July 6, 2009

    Thank you Jessica!
    As always for the awesomely weird images thoughtfully put into historical context.
    And for straightening things out in the comments section: “Marcus, Zuska said “and there are men who wonder why women are so angry,” not, “and there are men who wonder why women are so angry at all men.”” Exactly.

  13. #13 daedalus2u
    July 6, 2009

    I happen to be at work, so many of the images were filtered (not the pig image which is quite gross), including the lysol ad. From the comments I presume it talked about using it for douching which is enormously harmful to women, as are all such products. They provide no benefits and do cause harm including PID, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, increased infection rates and cancer. I see those who sell them as merchants of death, the same as selling tobacco, mercury containing skin lightening products, and injectable street drugs. As exploitive as giving formula to new mothers so they stop lactating.

    I see that as much worse than Russian Brides (which can possibly be benign and non-exploitive). Douching products are only exploitive.

  14. #14 Art
    July 6, 2009

    First, you don’t give a proper spanking through a skirt. Skirts and petticoats, the petticoats are a nice touch, should be lifted. Also she seems to enjoying it too much. And what is that on her wrist? Looks like a substantial bit of bling.

    The second bit just fails on every level. Advertising a pair slim-cut rayon/polyester slacks – yuk. Miserable things. A bit foppish if you ask me. And the expression of the woman’s face. Is that supposed to be some variation on ‘bedroom eyes’? What is going on with the tail? Is it supposed to be a sort of disguised phallic symbol?

    They both look too childish to be effective and too stupid to be insulting. The first one does have a playful edge expressed through the look on the ladies face that carries the scene so it isn’t entirely without some virtue. The second is far cruder and fails to engage.

  15. #15 John
    July 6, 2009

    The first image is wonderfully weird. Regarding the second two, I find the blatant sexism in older advertising shocking (even in comparison to today’s poor standards).

  16. #16 jc
    July 6, 2009

    Blatant sexism is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s the everyday abuse, 1000s of little cuts, that adds up. Today’s “standards” are no different, they are misogynist.

  17. #17 Andrew
    July 7, 2009

    “While the ad appears bizarre to us today, it makes sense in a different social context – one in which animals exist primarily to serve human needs, and all’s right with the world when they’re fulfilling that function.”

    I was under the impression that we *still* live in a context where animals exist primarily to serve human needs. Or do you mean that the origins of “that tasty meat stuff” are, these days, significantly obfuscated that people can simultaneously indulge in animal products and revile their slaughter without feeling hypocritical.

  18. #18 Jessica Palmer
    July 7, 2009

    Somewhat the latter – we like to have it both ways today, don’t we? The fact that this image is disgusting to most people shows that we don’t like to dwell on the processes involved in modern industrial farming and butchery, because it makes us uncomfortable. I’d argue that in France a few hundred years ago, it would not have even occurred to people to be uncomfortable.

    *edited for clarity

  19. #19 Isis the Scientist
    July 7, 2009

    Ping, BioE!

  20. #20 DuWayne
    July 7, 2009

    I could actually go for more of the butchery ads – doesn’t make me the least uncomfortable and really fits with my love of Douglas Adams. The idea that it’s gross is only due to the fact that most people aren’t too keen on meat being anything more than something they find neatly packaged at the grocery store. It’s not the disgusting PETA picture of the worse of the worst – it’s actually kind of amusing in a dark humor sort of way (the best sort of humor).

    As for the spanking ads – I can’t help but think about the John Wayne movies I have horribly mixed feelings about. I try to chalk it to cultural relativism and accept that there are some very ugly aspects of our recent history – but given how much of that foulness still pervades society today, it is rather tough. At the same time, I really love Americana and have an especial love for John Wayne – in spite of his regular tendency to take women over his knee – exactly like those ads portray. It makes little difference that the America portrayed in the best of Americana bears little resemblance to the reality – though I suspect that is part of the attraction – there is just something very comforting about a bygone age that ultimately never really was.

    As flawed as even the fiction of it is…

  21. #21 Jessica Palmer
    July 7, 2009

    “I could actually go for more of the butchery ads – doesn’t make me the least uncomfortable and really fits with my love of Douglas Adams. The idea that it’s gross is only due to the fact that most people aren’t too keen on meat being anything more than something they find neatly packaged at the grocery store.”

    Actually, DuWayne, I don’t completely agree. I think it’s gross because it represents vivisection. I have a lot of empathy for animals; I believe they have emotions like pain and fear, so this image of an animal being cut up alive is just icky to me, the same way a vivisected human would be (thus my comparison to medical models). If I didn’t think animals have emotions or feelings, it wouldn’t disturb me. And sadly, I’m too empathetic to find it very funny (which is a personal limitation, not a judgment on others’ reactions).

    Regarding your point about meat, I do eat meat, and I know where it comes from. I haven’t shot anything myself (I wasn’t a good enough shot for my dad to let me) but I’ve butchered carcasses right after and eaten the meat, so it’s not the blood and guts that bothers me. What makes me uncomfortable is when animal husbandry practices, especially industrialized ones, cause animals extra terror, pain and suffering. (Again, if I didn’t think animals had emotions – if I thought they were food robots – that would not be the case). Anyway, I try to avoid meat produced from those practices, and it frustrates me that the sources of meat in our country and how animals are treated during industrial farming are so opaque to consumers (insert “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” here).

  22. #22 dr.hypercube
    July 8, 2009

    Your title makes me think of Perry Bible Fellowship’s classic Instant Bacon.

    There’s a Flickr group devoted to suicide food – Cut Me, Wicked Servant…; I’m partial to the gelato cone enjoying a quad scoop.

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