History

Uncle Sam's Decadent Robot Pal

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Via Warren Ellis, a Boschian propaganda poster from World War II:

kulturterror
public domain

Needless to say, this one was a Nazi effort. (Who else would imagine a Judeo-Klansman alliance? Note also the roughly equal attention given to the record and the bag of money—that is, to jazz and the bourgeoisie.) According to a commenter on Ellis' site, the caption translates as "The USA wants to save European culture from decay. Based on what right?"

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  1. This is a great find!

    Is the jazz playing native american somehow dangerous? What’s that on the right leg?

  2. Of course! Jazz is a threat to civilization and good musical taste in the eyes of Wagner-liebing Nazis. Didn’t you see Swing Kids?

    Also, the ribbon on the leg says “World’s Most Beautiful Leg”. Points for simplicity.

  3. Save us from those Americans, with their trumpet-playing Indian Chiefs and their beautiful legs!

  4. At first I thought that was how “Coulter” was translated into German

  5. Is that what happens when the Village People form together into their giant fighting robot?

  6. Except for the obvious technical talent of the artist, I’d have mistaken that for something posted on Daily Kos or Democratic Underground.

  7. They hate us for our beautiful legs.

  8. Ah, so this proves that everyone who views American culture as threatening, is, in fact, a Nazi. I feel so vindicated.

    I’m going to eat a Big Mac now. In English.

  9. I’m scared. Where do I enlist?

  10. Another version of the same basic poster, with a subtly different take on the translation at the bottom.

  11. “Ah, so this proves that everyone who views American culture as threatening, is, in fact, a Nazi.”

    Pretty much.

    Take that, Ralph Reed!

  12. The Black Jew Klansman (gangster/banker/drummer/Indian & lady holder) also seems to be doing more damage with The World’s Most Beautiful Leg than with that bomb-leg thing

  13. Is that what happens when the Village People form together into their giant fighting robot?

    Lunchstealer wins the thread. Hell, that one’s so good it wins the whole damn war.

  14. Boschian? I dunno, looks more like Rube Goldberg’s Da Da period to me. Anyway, there must be something to that business about jazz being decadent ’cause that’s what they were playing in Reefer Madness.

  15. Am I the only one who notes the irony that the Nazis seem to disapprove of Klan?

  16. C’mon, Akira, didn’t you see American History X

    There’s subtle but unimportant differences between the two!

  17. This was actually the sort of thing that Heidegger was concerned about. That American society debased authentic “being.” He made the same remarks about the USSR. That the materialism, mechanization, focus on “technicity” etc. of both had destroyed “being.” Thus his quest by the earliest foundations of Greek thought.

  18. At least part of that is in there. Clearly the creature can be viewed as a threat to the “heimat” as is evident from the destruction of the “old world,” more organic architecture of I guess Europe.

  19. Love the Masonic apron with the Star of David emblazoned on the front. Today’s Middle-Eastern propagandists could learn a thing or two from the understated simplicity of the Nazis.

  20. Or at least that’s how Heidegger may have described it in a period of his life. Personally, I don’t buy of that bullshit.

  21. DAR,

    You’ve read Heidegger, right? What do you think of my analysis?

  22. I can’t make out the inscription on the bottom of the cage:

    ” ‘Jitterbug’ – something”, I think.

    Otherwise, the caged people kind of look like go-go dancers.

  23. Who else would imagine a Judeo-Klansman alliance?

    Ask the slopped foreheads who think Israel planned 9/11.

  24. Aresen, the page Rimfax linked to lists the text of all the banners.

    The Jitterbug one is “Jitterbug – Triumph of Civilization”

  25. I think the bomb leg would be less cool in practice than the artist suggests.

  26. Thanks for explaining this is from Nazis. Most of Europe still sees us this way.

  27. Lunchstealer-

    Can’t get over the image of a Village People Klansman.
    You’ve got the cop, the Indian, the construction worker, the Grand Kleagle…..
    Hillarious.

  28. Ask the slopped foreheads who think Israel planned 9/11.

    Sure, Joe, blame us for that, too!

    P.S. — It’s “sloped,” not “slopped.” Even cavemen know how to use a spell-checker.

  29. lunchstealer | March 20, 2007, 4:55pm | #

    Is that what happens when the Village People form together into their giant fighting robot?

    Well thank you very much for making me spit all over my computer screen!

  30. Is that what happens when the Village People form together into their giant fighting robot?

    Wait…one of the village people was a Klansman?

  31. And now, I notice that someone already pointed this out.

    -2 for redundancy on my part.

  32. just a sweet transformer, from transexual Transylvania?

  33. America- your plastic pal who’s fun to be with. Share and Enjoy!

  34. Knockin me out with that American thigh, indeed!

  35. “Am I the only one who notes the irony that the Nazis seem to disapprove of Klan?”

    Well the Klan were “traditionalists” while the Nazis were “Progressives”

  36. Actually, in 1939, the Klan ran some American Nazi protestors off of capitol hill–that was the patriotic half of “patriotic racism.”

  37. RE: Village People Kleagle

    at about :50

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha0K2P6f6BM[/url]

  38. We need DARPA and the Disney animatronics people to join forces and build a full scale version of this to prance through Iraq.

  39. I like the bag of money. I mean, you know, the Nazi’s loved capitalism and all…

  40. FYI, the wikipedia entry that Rimfax posted explains all the symbols of Klan-tron.

  41. You know that my sons are going to want that action figure for Christmas now, don’t you?

  42. Hate to nitpick, but that record being held is not vinyl – not if it’s from World War II. That, children, would be a genuine 78 rpm made of shellac, I believe…or possibly Bakelite.

  43. Most of Europe still sees us this way.

    Bingo! I’m struck by the similarity of the anti-American symbolism in this poster to what I read and hear about America all the time as an expat living in Germany today.

  44. Add a french fry here, the Wal-Mart logo there, substitute a Texan cowboy hat for the hood, and it’s apt for today.

  45. Then the Nazis have already won.

  46. “Who else would imagine a Judeo-Klansman alliance? ”

    Karl Rove? People of faith and all that.

    It, er, didn’t work out.

    SIV, you don’t know squat about Naziism. They were as “traditionalist” as they come. The constant rhetoric about the glorious past when the right sort of people held power should be a hint.

  47. grotius,

    i see you’re channeling gaius. clearly this robot is an apt representaition of freiheit, techne and american hubris.

  48. I think the bomb leg would be less cool in practice than the artist suggests.

    Yeah, it should have been a shotgun. Just ask Tarantino…

  49. Hate to nitpick, but that record being held is not vinyl – not if it’s from World War II.

    Fixed. Though if anyone would be carrying around a Record From The Future, it’s a giant American robot.

  50. Nice, Jesse! 🙂

  51. Add a french fry here, the Wal-Mart logo there, substitute a Texan cowboy hat for the hood, and it’s apt for today.

    Good point. Of course as Americans we’re not going to view this kind of caricature as being fair or accurate, but we should probably be sobered somewhat by the realization that with a few updates as noted above this poster probably is not an inaccurate representation of how many across the world see us.

  52. actually, that’s what american’s looked like back then. the german artist was recapturing some carousing with his wacky expat buddy.

  53. It’s not America’s fault. See, somebody set us up the bombleg.

  54. Dan T.,

    In other words, the Nazis were right about us? I daresay that any assertions that stereotypes are so true when applied to Americans and so wrong when applied to anyone else might be of questionable validity. Only a Nazi would say such a thing 🙂

    Seriously, I’m trying to remember a time in the last hundred years where people around the world felt all warm and fuzzy about the United States. On the flip side, I also think that we still are, by and large, fairly well liked–otherwise, our enormous cultural influence would be checked, not broadening. I’m sure many non-Americans would prefer that we behave differently on the international stage, but that sentiment is shared by many Americans! Go figure! Even those without bomblegs!

  55. If Ron Paul drops out of the race, I’m totally voting for this robot.

  56. “Seriously, I’m trying to remember a time in the last hundred years where people around the world felt all warm and fuzzy about the United States.”

    Most of Clinton’s term, and for a few months after 9/11.

    I can remember crowd scenes of Palestinians waving little American flags when Bill Clinton was president.

  57. Most of Clinton’s term, and for a few months after 9/11.

    The 9/11 part is OK but the first part makes me suspect that you don’t know many foreigners.

  58. joe,

    Uh, huh. We’ve had our moments, mostly because of our counterpoise to the Soviet Union, but we’re generally not the most popular power on earth, given our top dog status. We tend to do things that improve world opinion and offend the world at about the same rate.

    Frankly, I didn’t note any particular surge in world opinion during the Clinton years, aside from the increased happiness after the end of the Cold War and after the end of the recession towards the middle of his first term (neither of which, of course, he had much to do with). I have noticed a decline in opinion about us since 9/11, but the reasons for that are obvious. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re generally liked, though we do things that puzzle and upset people on a regular basis.

    Incidentally, I can remember Iraqis waving little American flags during the Bush administration. Care to rethink the value of such little flag waving? 🙂

  59. Isaac,

    You should google up some old polling. We weren’t at Canada/Sweden levels of popularity, but we were moptop-era Beatles-popular compared to where we are now.

  60. We weren’t at Canada/Sweden levels of popularity, but we were moptop-era Beatles-popular compared to where we are now.

    That is true.

    Actually, I was being simplistic and flip.

    One really has to consider the difference between feelings for the US President, the US government and the American people. That adds the whole range of nuance.

    In much of Europe Clinton was regarded as something of a buffoon. To some extent that changed with the impeachment when people saw him as a victim. Of course this led to negative feelings about the American people as the old feeling that we were a repressed, puritanical lot.

    Also, having spent much of my life outside the country it was interesting to come “home” and find out that figures like FDR and JFK were far more popular in the places I had lived in or visited than they were here.

  61. Correction:

    Of course this led to negative feelings about the American people as the old feeling that we were a repressed, puritanical lot came out.

  62. …the old feeling that we were a repressed, puritanical lot…

    You’d have to be repressed and puritanical to build a robot like that.

  63. Yeah – but think of the leg humping you could do with the mofo ROCKET for a LEG!

    /pass the cheetos.

  64. From the wiki entry on this poster, I think the best bit is the first line, particularly the second phrase: “A 1944 Nazi propaganda poster titled ‘LIBERATORS’, which perfectly epitomizes many perennially-recurring themes of anti-Americanism.”

    Then, from “The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same” Department:

    “Some motifs contained in this poster:

    – The immorality of beauty pageants (unclad “Miss America”, scantily-clad “Miss Victory”, “The World’s Most Beautiful Leg”) — or more generally, the putative sexual laxness of American women, a theme which strongly resonates with extremists today.

    – Gangsterism and gun violence (the arm of an escaped convict holding a submachine gun).
    Anti-black violence (a lynching noose, a Ku Klux Klan hood).

    – General violence of American society, in addition to the above (boxing-glove which grasps the money-bag).

    – Mistreatement of Native Americans (“Miss America” wears plains-Indian head-dress).
    The pure materialism or commercialism of America, to the detriment of any spirit or soul (moneybag with “$” symbol).

    – The presence of blacks in U.S. population, contributing to its “mongrelization”, adding undesirably “primitive” elements to American popular culture, and constituting a potential danger to the white race (strongly muscular arms of a black male, a stereotypically-caricatured black couple dancing the “JITTERBUG – Triumph of Civilization” in birdcage, which is portrayed as a degraded animalistic ritual).

    – Decadence of American popular culture, and its pernicious influence on the rest of the world (dancing of jitterbug, hand holds phonograph record, figure of a European gullible “all-ears” dupe in lower foreground).

    – Indiscriminate U.S. military violence (bloodied bomb for foot, metal legs, military aircraft wings), threatening the European cultural landmarks at lower right.
    Hence the falsity of American claims to be “Liberators”. (The word “Liberators” was also the name of a U.S. bomber plane.)
    American jingoism and war fervor (a business-suited arm literally “beating the drum” of militarism, “Miss Victory” and her drum-majorette cap and boots).

    – Malevolent influence of Jews (Star of David apron descending from drum, caricatured Jewish figure holding on to money-bag).

    – Demonization of national symbols of the United States (“Miss Victory” waves the reverse side of 48-star U.S. flag, and the WW2-era Army Air Corps roundel — of small red disk within white star on large blue disk — is shown on one of the wings).”

    I’m hard-pressed to find one of these examples that isn’t CURRENTLY used as evidence of the evil ways of the U.S. by some country or some group…

  65. Caveman

    I meant slopped, not sloped. Slopped foreheads are slopped with gunk from the sewer. My remark had nothing to do with cavemen; it was a reference to sewer rats.

  66. It should be noted that the monochrome version of this poster is in Dutch, while the color version is in (what I think is) Danish. Thus, the poster isn’t intended to cater to a German audience, but to citizens of occupied territories, presumably to convince them that they’re better off with Nazi Germany than with the USA. This likely explains the presence of elements in the poster that you wouldn’t think Nazis would object to.

    The “World’s Most Beautiful Leg” thing strikes me as a dig at Marlene Dietrich.

  67. Jurjen:

    the pic with the link – did it say:

    “USA vil redde Europ?iske Kultur fra undergang”?

    If so, yup – it’s Danish. If it said, “Europeiske”, then it’s Norwegian (Bokmaal)

  68. Doesn’t anyone ever wish that Ayn Rand’s ancestors had all been murdered in some pogrom? At least then we would have been spared her undreadable books.

  69. Undreadable? I think there’s plenty of dread to be found in Ayn Rand… I wonder if anyone has ever wished that all of your ancestors had been wiped out, haram, because that’s just a very mean thing to say.

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