Home » Great Art And Weird Mid-Century Misogyny: Cold Start

Great Art And Weird Mid-Century Misogyny: Cold Start

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Advertising art and illustration in the mid-1960s is often, simply, fantastic. Sure, the whole point was to separate your grandparents from their money, as often as possible, but, damn, did they look good doing it.Take these illustrations from this 1967 Plymouth Belvedere brochure, where they’re showing a lot of options and details. There’s back-up lights and fender-mounted indicator tell-tales and hubcaps and disc brakes and everything. Plus, that art. It’s fantastic! The slightly coarse, impressionistic painting quality, sort of posterized, with bright, bold colors, I love it. Just look at the overhead view of those people in quadrilateral number 13 there: that’s just a great painting, on its own.

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In fact. it reminds me a lot of the work of contemporary painter Alex Katz:

Cs Belvedere Katz

The styles differ in many ways, sure, but these two paintings, created for wildly different goals, feel like they could be two different portrayals of the same general event or scene. There’s a thread of sorts between them, I think that much is true.

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Of course, being the middle of the 20th century, you can’t quite enjoy any car brochure before you’re smacked with some weird-ass misogyny:

 

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Power windows and tinted glass are “woman stuff?” Maybe I can see some kind of weird justification for the allegedly masculine labor of turning a little crank to roll down a window, though the idea that dudes were not into having a motor roll their windows down is just absurd. Tinted glass, though? How is that gendered at all? It’s tinted glass? What am I missing here? You don’t have to give women shit in every brochure, long, probably dead Plymouth copywriter. Get a grip.

 

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Miles Long
Miles Long
1 year ago

If you like very cool mid-century advertising art, check out plan59.com. The automotive advertising artwork is absolutely stunning. Some of the classic Pontiac ads showcase work by Art Fitzpatrick & Van Kaufman who also have their own website fitzandvan.com.

EXL500
EXL500
1 year ago
Reply to  Miles Long

Seconded! Also Fitz and Van are memorialized in a gorgeous coffee table book I have. I’m not near it, but I’m sure a Google search can find it. These are the best auto illustrations ever IMO.

Scott
Scott
1 year ago

I came for the advertised misogyny, but stayed for the optimistic portrayals of the good life circa 1960s.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 year ago

These are fantastic!

The guy in the striped shirt looks like he’s being harassed by the girl in yellow. Maybe he’s not into her due to an extreme ice-cream allergy?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago

He’s way gay and yet she’s desperate (and egotistical) enough to try “converting” him.

Michael Sharp
Michael Sharp
1 year ago

These ads are obvious influence on the now greatly overused comic book cinematic style of narrative renderings.

And yeah, that camper is incredibly huge!

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 year ago

Are we not going to discuss that incredibly huge camper trailer?

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
1 year ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Came here for this – it belongs in a Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz movie…. https://youtu.be/Ucb9O8q1eOc

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

Then by 1970 you had the problem of knob or pistol grip for your stick shift.
There were many things lurking around the corner at Mopar.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
1 year ago

C’mon, what’s more manly than rolling up on a couple of ladies and, with a flick of your pinky and a whirring of electric motors, lowering the tinted window to reveal acres of luxurious vinyl?

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
1 year ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

Maybe the idea was that if you had to lean over to roll the passenger window, your gold chain would dangle down and your shirt would fall open to reveal the glorious plumage of chest hair?

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

I’ll never forget the scene in “Pacific Heights” when Michael Keaton walks away from his 911 and presses a fob, then the windows automatically rolled up and the alarm chirped. Was damn impressive back then.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago

The whole women and windows thing is quite a conundrum. With windups only the strong women can access fresh air liberation. Equip your Belvedere with power windows and you have manly control over all the windows but, if distracted, even the frail can escape.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chronometric
Drew
Drew
1 year ago

Real men don’t need power anything. They run everywhere, pulling a cart if they need to haul anything. You need a pickup to tow your camper? What, not strong enough to drag it along behind you until you get to your destination?

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

Uphill both ways in a blizzard with bare feet

The Matts
The Matts
1 year ago

With a chicken under each arm, according to my grandfather.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

Don’t get me started on power steering.

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

“Power steering” is when you haul your cattle to market with your bare hands, like Superman pulling the Billion Dollar Limited.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
1 year ago

These illustrations are indeed lovely. They might be by Robert Shore who was quite prolific in the 60s and 70s with illustrations for magazines, short story anthologies (such as what might be found in literature textbooks for schools), and children’s books such as Eleanor Clymer’s The Big Pile of Dirt which is a delightfully zeitgeist example of the then-emerging movements in education to focus on the children first and foremost (after all, what do children do when they see a big pile of dirt in a playground? The title is pretty self-explanatory…)
Do those brochures ever credit the artists or include their signatures? Surely there’d be ways to track down those artists, especially since such illustrations can frequently be quite lovely, as already noted?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago

As power windows and tinted glass have become commonplace and accepted on our cars, that same toxic masculinity has been redirected towards automatic headlights, blind spot warnings, and any technology that makes towing easier.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

As a guy, any objection I might have automatic headlights, blind spot warnings or tow assists has nothing to do with any concept of “manhood”. The only issues with them I’ve ever had is when the technology doesn’t work properly — like automatic headlights that are over/under-sensitive and wonky. Blind spot warnings that aren’t just visual, but loudly audible and startling, and possibly illogical (I know there’s a car in the blind spot because the light already came on; I’m just putting my turn signal on in advance to warn more cars not to drive into the same space, so stop screaming at me, car!). And just about anything to assist with trailering is welcome — as long as the technology is reliable.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  UnseenCat

Sure, that is how you see it, but I have seen posts in forums and such that definitely aren’t about any glitches or anything. It’s that they don’t need any of that because real men know how to do all those things without help. Never mind that massive pillars have become the norm, creating blind spots. Or that towing is a pain with ever-heavier trailers, especially if you don’t do it all that often.

Protodite
Protodite
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

The funny part is that people i know that object to cruise control, land assist, adaptive cruise are almost all women. Absolutely refuse to use them haha

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Protodite

I’m a guy and don’t understand why anyone would ever use cruise control of any kind.

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
1 year ago

I am surprised the copywriter didn’t go after the men who drive an automatic. Just sayin’…

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

Automatics were okay, but only if Hurst his & hers… 😉

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93689841@N04/12921755575

10001010
10001010
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I remember when I was a kid some guy was telling us his car had both an automatic and a manual transmission. He was talking about one of these shifters.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago
Reply to  10001010

Or even back in the early ’00s, hearing it from guys with the then-novel “manu-matic” automatics with paddles or +/- gates.

These were often the same guys who’d put it in neutral and let the car roll back a tiny bit to try to pretend they had an actual manual.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

What the flapjacking sexist crap did I just read?

Last edited 1 year ago by Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Volkswagen leaned heavily into that, the Automatic Stick-Shift was marketed pretty well exclusively as making your wife no longer afraid of driving a Beetle, and, of course, Chrysler used a similar tack with Fluid Drive in the early ’40s with basically all women in the advertising

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago

Here’s the real pitch, “Ladies, get an automatic transmission so your stupid husband can’t blame you for the next clutch replacement.”

Lokki
Lokki
1 year ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Hmmm – here’s a guy who has never had to try to explain clutches, gear ratios, and shift patterns to his wife. My wife, who grew up in Tokyo, cared (and cares) nothing about cars beyond dividing them into two classes: taxis and not-taxis. I’m not talking about explaining things at the engineering level either. We kept it simple, but, well:

The whole “push your left foot down, and then grab this knob and push it and then pick up your foot -while keeping your other foot on the gas but not too hard; when the car starts getting noisy put your left foot down again and then push that knob in a different direction…DON’T FORGET YOU HAVE TO STEER!…and so on in different directions till you are going fast enough but the car isn’t making loud noises…..

We shall not mention trying to find reverse while looking over your shoulder and turning the steering wheel because my even my therapist is afraid that subject. I mean, the medication calms me some, but not enough, frankly.

She was totally uninterested in shifting gears when she learned to drive and remains so to this day, years later. I might as well been trying to explain how to measure sediment levels in underground rivers on Mars or something.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lokki
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Lokki

In the meantime, growing up, my mom was the only one in the house that could drive a manual at all, my dad has always been afraid to even attempt one (despite serving 4 years in Vietnam riding around in Jeeps, evidently always as a passenger, and despite his dad having been VP of sales for a shifter company that starts with an H and ends with a T and always having muscle cars in the driveway as company vehicles, just never rubbed off on him). I will say that she only enjoys driving a manual in ver specific circumstances – light cars with revvy engines in light traffic on country roads, in congestion, she absolutely hates it, which is why she hasn’t bought a manual since the ’80s, just rents one here and there on trips

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I know how to drive stick but prefer not to. That shit’s for the birds. Paddle shifters if necessary, but that’s it.

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