Monday, 30 April 2012

392: Anita Bryant 8 - Mad Magazine 1

While from the hindsight of 35 years we can note approvingly all the stand-ups, columnists, talk-show hosts, comedians and sitcoms that criticise Anita Bryant, it can’t be overlooked that Bryant’s short-term goals were successful in overturning the ordinance and that many people supported her campaign and attitudes toward homosexuals. Where then are the humourists sympathetic to Bryant?

Where are they? They’re writing for “Mad Magazine”, that’s where they are. In 1971 “National Lampoon” had run an incisive parody of the older magazine criticising “Mad Magazine” as stale, clichéd and the prisoner of its own limited viewpoint. Seven years later and it had not got any better. Many of the writers and artists had been at the magazine since the mid-50s, and now they had become men in their mid-50s with the attitudes to prove it. Film, TV, and advertising spoofs and gags were still okay. Stuff about the petty banalities of daily life, and clichés about teenage life were still just about tolerable. But anything touching current youth culture or anything that was actually new and you could easily expect the same “Get off my lawn, kids” attitude from your aging uncle. The staff had set opinions on what constituted social hypocrisy and they were going to stick to it.

If “National Lampoon”’s pieces about homosexuality in the late 70s can be harsh at least they were informed about the issues of homosexuality and the lifestyles of modern homosexuals. “Mad” wanted to remain ignorant about homosexuals and didn’t wanted to be troubled by them either.

“National Lampoon”’s parody had included a brief piece about the social topics the magazine was largely ignoring back then. Ironically, this cartoon proves to be a fairly accurate prediction of “Mad”’s portrayal of homosexuals throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

“National Lampoon”, October 1971

“Mad” July 1978
Writer: Tom Koch
Artist: Jack Davis

It’s 1978, but Davis’s illustration of demonstrating homosexuals, their hats, their jerkins and jewelry would be more suitable to 1971 or 1972 – even by the mid-70s it’s rather dated.

“Mad” July 1978
“Mad’s College Concert Comic of the Year”
Writer: Lou Silverstone
Artist: George Woodbridge

This piece is far more telling. It’s a wholly clueless attack on George Carlin, trying to paint him as a hypocrite and also attacking his audiences as equally hypocritical. Carlin’s 1974 routine on homosexuality is quite positive and thoughtful. Here in this strip though the underlying attitude is that it’s impossible that anybody could be pro-homosexuality, everyone really agrees Bryant, and they’re all just a load of phonies.

1 comment:

jf said...

It's disheartening to realize as an adult how unfunny most of the writing was in MAD. I guess this is not quite the same thing as finding the social attitudes portrayed "backward." But the two do seem to reinforce one another. Dick DeBartolo, who I have heard is gay, is the rare MAD writer I still find amusing.