There are a lot of reasons to love the Internet: Lots of information, free porn, finding good music, game hints, free porn, history lessons, shopping, free porn, and so on.
I spend a lot of time dredging around the depths of the Internet in the places normal, sane, people don’t like to go. I love conspiracy theory sites, lists of bad ass historical figures, photo blogs, web comics. One of my normal haunts (myconfinedspace.com, which is hardly that far off the beaten trail) is a great place to find obscure images. Sometimes it’s just old adverts for long-lost technology like TI’s hand-held pocket computer from the mid 80s or old Huffy bikes tricked out with steering wheels, other times it’s comic pictures or random half-naked women. All in all, it’s a great site and I usually go there every day just to see what people have scrounged up.
Earlier this week someone posted some pictures from vintage men’s magazines, you know, the ones from the 50s and 60s that promised tales of excitement and crushing the Reds. I’d never come across any of these in the wild (I was born in the 70s and the genre was pretty much dead by the time it would have interested me) and most likely never will.
Some of the covers and titles are amazing. Take, for instance, this gem:
The cover of the magazine has pretty much everything any man could ever want. A picture of a bound, mostly naked woman. Snakes that not only have fangs, they have actual teeth. A man desperate to save said woman from said toothy snakes. Think of it: a magazine actually called Man’s Adventure!
Check this one out:
Long before the Cramps recorded “Bikini Girls With Machine Guns,” True Adventures was putting out magazines with bikini girls with machine guns storming a beach filled with (I think) Russian bad guys. The image alone played into the American dream of beautiful women and killing Communists.
More True Adventures, this time the woman is tied up with a snake and you can learn about the sexual meaning of your dreams and the Devil’s Mistress.
Actual sword fighting. With actual pirates.
Not sure what this image is supposed to be saying. For some reason she’s on a skyscraper scaffolding in a dress and heels. The interesting part of this one is the headline about chastity belts being reborn. Those seem to be cyclical.
This last one is just a haunting picture. I have to admit, I love the color and the general feel of the image. There’s an element of quiet desperation to this picture and a sense that even in success, the couple in the boat failed somehow.
Anyway, the cover imagery of these earlier magazines, especially while they were still doing illustrated covers, was pretty damned cool.
But what about the stories?
Well, that’s a bit harder. Like I said earlier, most of these magazines have been out of print for a fairly long time. Fortunately, this is the Internet age and all it takes is someone to find a copy of one of these magazines, scan each page and throw it in a zip file. Voila! Eternity.
Thus, being no stranger to the darker alleyways in the Internet, I managed to scrounge up a couple digital copies. So far, I’ve read part of one of them, a story on the New York Draft Riots of 1863. It was an interesting read about an event I didn’t even know about. So, see, finding pictures of partially naked, often bound, women on men’s magazines of the 50s and 60s actually taught me something. The Draft Riots themselves are a subject for another post.
So, with all of the Commie busting, and evil Nazis and Sex Cruises and Action! and Adventure! and Devi’s Mistresses of magazines of some 50 to 60 years old, you’d think we’d have some pretty awesome stuff in men’s magazines right now, right? Right?
Nope. You get stories on how to manage you fantasy football teams and which belt to pick out next time you go shopping. Yup, you heard it, role playing and shopping tips.
What happened to men? Where did we go? When did we trade stories of busting up Nazis and monsters and the Love Girls of the Kremlin for diatribes about who makes the best shoe? When did we give up on saving damsels in distress so we could focus on what record player was best for our hipster LP collection? When did we forget that it’s okay to be a man? Or is this what it means to be a man now? When did we decide that being a man meant sitting in a drum circle out in the forest?
Far be it for me to tell anyone how to be or act or what it means to be a man, but it seems like we’ve forgotten somewhere along the line that it’s okay to like to stories about Adventure! and Action!, that it’s okay to appreciate a woman’s beauty, that there are bad guys in the world and it’s okay to want to stomp on them.
You don’t have to go out and get in fights at the drop of a hat, or pick on people weaker than you, or date rape women. In fact, I say a real man would fight back against those things, see the perpetrators as bad guys and give ’em a good lumping.
Anyway, that’s my take on it.
That’s also how I managed to go from looking at pictures of old magazines to questioning the current state of masculinity.
Gotta love that Internet.