Monday, 11 June 2012

Mixed Signals

Postcard publishers were quick to see the rich comic potential in the image of the matelot. The saucy sailor with upturned moustache has an enduring fascination whether he clings to a flagpole or strikes a pose inside a lifebelt. Such jaunty images have generated much camp humour and all manner of innuendo. Advertisers have taken full advantage of another attribute of the mariner – the reputation for courage in adversity that has made them especially valuable in the marketing of tobacco products. I’m not so sure as to how far these attitudes persist across the Atlantic. The postcards below celebrate the immaculate uniforms associated with naval traditions. The notion of training sailors in the fine arts of needlecraft may have a practical application in mending their uniforms, or perhaps they’re preparing for a transition into the fashion industry after demobilisation. Relaxing with a Pepsi in the company of comrades from the other services seems a little tame for these notoriously serious drinkers but this is another of those postcard images where expressions of joviality are greatly exceeded by expressions of suspicion and downright hostility. 

No comments: