- Richard Fayerweather Babcock, Join the Navy, c.1917 (colour litho)
Looking at the “Join the Navy” advert, of a man riding a bomb in the sea has many connotations. For one it looks like good fun. Two, he is so happy to be fighting for his country, and three, the bomb has a phallic feel to it, it doesn’t necessarily look metal, it’s more skin colour. The tagline is “The service for fighting men,” how macho, with a lovely sailor boy wearing a cut white sailors cap.
I’m sure, for the time, when perhaps people’s minds were a tad bit more conservative, in today’s standards, I don’t think Babcock intended it to look so “GAY” if that’s politically correct to say.
The image I decided to explore is an advert for the Bon Marche.
The Bridgeman education guide says this about the advert.
The Bon Marché Department stores in Paris were the creation of the French entrepreneur, Aristide Boucicaut (1810-77), who, after 1852 and with his wife, Marguerite (1826-87) revolutionised shopping and retailing in France; they developed the first department store (‘Grand Magasin’) in Paris, by 1877 the largest in the world with 1788 employees; the Boucicauts were responsible for introducing the concept of shopping as an enjoyable experience with glamorous interiors; innovations included fixed prices, home delivery, large choice of goods, guarantees allowing exchanges or returns, catalogues , mail order and advertising; families were targeted by providing reading rooms for husbands while their wives made purchases and by giving balloons and attractively produced cards for children; the cards, usually in a series of six and published weekly were extremely popular and acted as an inducement to return frequently to the shops;
There is no mention of a white boy, with a white referee, a white coach, and a white audience, punching a black boys in the face.
‘Les Grands Championnats’- The Great Champions,… The Great French, Western, Elite, Champions, out of how many of those 1788 employees were black African?
Has this anything to do with race, or it just a coincident? Why isn’t the boy fighting another boy of the same skin colour?
If this is an advert for a shopping center, than you can guess the type of clientage it is hoping to attract.
I can’t imagine what would happen if a similar advert was released today. It shines light onto the outward and acceptable use of racism as a marketing in the early 1900’s. The same is true looking at feminism or health consiousness in advertising, compared with today’s standards.