Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: 7 Wartime Posters

By: 01.24.11  •  7 Comments

Old timey wartime posters were all about one thing: hilarious racism. But also, stuff like strength, courage, and coming together in a time of great adversity. And who best represents those qualities? Certainly not the women, what with their curling irons and periods, so it’s only natural that past pieces of propaganda included mostly men. Lots and lots of men doing lots of manly things. Often without a shirt on. Yeah, you can already see how there would be room in there for unintentional homosexuality. And while there’s certainly nothing amusing about gay people themselves, consider that the following posters came out in a time when being gay could have gotten you arrested in the UK. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: why is this guy topless in what is obviously a smelting plant? Call me crazy but working with molten metal should inspire you to put on more clothing. Then again, who wouldn’t want to risk 3rd degree burns to show off pecks like That? Still, there’s not even any clear message to this poster, outside the very suspicious “Get Hot – keep moving.” That’s not a workplace slogan meant to inspire productivity and a can-do spirit. That’s the title of a dance-track at a discount male-strip club. Now, that I mention it… I wonder what will happen if I tilt the image slightly to the side…
Oh, well, there you go. You have to admit it though; the guy has some nice moves with the pole.
Yes, this is a poster of two topless Nazi teens, and yes, the FBI is probably on their way to your house right now. But before they get there, take a look at the kid on the right. Is it just me or is he disco dancing? He is! He’s totally disco dancing. Does that mean that all disco is descended from gay Nazis? Maybe. But that’s beside the point. The point is that this poster prominently features 2 topless teens and was clearly meant to inspire… something. I just don’t know what. I am pretty sure the Nazis’ plans did not involve creating a utopia for worldwide boy-love. It could of course just be just a symbol of youthful spirit and all that jazz, but check out the expression of the kid on the left. That is a stare of a young man yearning for forbidden love in a world that does not understand it yet. Actually, give these guys cowboy hats and you could pass it off as an international poster for Brokeback Mountain.
While we’re on the topic of meaningful stares, this one can only be described as “assault-y.” And why is the word “action” written here in italics and a different color? Does it imply quotation marks? As in, the only “action” you will see here is the one your superiors don’t ask and you don’t tell about? Come on guys, you can be open about stuff like that. If you want to say “to bang a dude” instead of “action” go ahead and do it. No one will think any less of you for that. Probably because most Marines are capable of murdering us with their nose hair.
No. No, no, no. Look, I get the play on “strip tease” and everything, but there is absolutely no way anyone, anywhere and ever has dried themselves off like that and was not looking for a way to be kicked out of the army. I think this whole poster is actually the army’s early attempt to curb down on all that homosexuality business by eliminating the cause of it: sexy, half-naked gay soldiers. Or at least a 5th graders understanding of what a gay soldier might look or act like. I mean, this guy is “gay” in the same way that Taco Bell is real food: a cruel mockery of the genuine article. And don’t think for a minute that the phallic-nose mosquito aiming for the guy’s butt escaped me. I notice stuff like that ALL the time.
I won’t even bother to point out this guy’s lack of shirt. By now I have been convinced that the dress code before the 1950s was much looser than it is today, and that the Normandy landing looked waaay different than how I imagined it. I am not even touching the fact that this guy has apparently manscapped his chest hair into the shape of the letter A. No, what I want to know is why is he grasping his perfectly normal thumb as if it were a porcelain poodle figurine? I think that, just like the poster before, this is yet another “clever” ploy to out the homosexuals in the workplace and that the poster guy is, in fact, rushing to the First Aid station with a chipped nail. Classy guys, real classy.
You know, the whole “gay Navy” stereotype had to start somewhere. I blame this poster. There are 3 men in it and 2 of them definitely are running around topless in the middle of a heated battle. The third guy I only suspect of flashing his nipples to the enemy though would bet heavily in favor of it. I want to assure you that this is the last so obviously suggestive posters I’ll use here because, dammit, I like a challenge and don’t always go for the easy stuff.
About that whole liking a challenge and not going for the easy stuff bit…? I lied.

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