Serial fiction targeted toward boys in England in the 1940's used specific devices to simultaneously trap their attention, engage their fantasies, and politically indoctrinate them. It was a brilliant tactic because although the stories primarily involved death-rays, martians, anarchist gangs, etc., they also included aspects of the boys' public school lives like roll-call and smoking to pander to their current associations. The weeklies are thus a very effective means of propaganda because when the boys read the high-octane material, they become more open to the publisher's (and society's) ideal of what comprises a civilized, conservative man. Boys like adventures. It really doesn't matter what type, as long as the five senses are engaged more intensely than normal, there's some monster to slay or someone to save--including both is much more effective--and (from what I've drawn from the text) there's no hard moral choice to make.
It seems that the mood of the serial fiction is always confident--snobbish in many serials--because the adventurers inherently know right from wrong, and are willing to bound severe obstacles in the final act to right all wrongs. The readership of these things was broad, spanning across Europe, with young girls even reading them, despite being targeted to boys. On page 195: "In the Gem and the Magnet, there is a model for very nearly everybody. There is the normal, athletic, high-spirited boy, a slightly rowdier version of this type, a more aristocratic version, a quieter more serious version, and a stolid, 'bulldog version. Then there is the reckless, dare-devil type of boy, the definitely 'clever', studious boy, and the eccentric boy who is not good at games but posses some special talent." The list goes on. What I find impressive is how this contrasts with modern times where kids are (generally) told two things about the direction of their future: 1) They can be whoever they want, and 2) athletes and celebrities are the closest people to ideal role models. The first is vague, ambiguous, and nonsensical. The second is deceptive and lining them up for failure, relativism and disappointment because it's got a tinge of seriousness. The boys' weeklies are so fantasy-based, the boys have a better opportunity to understand the difference between reality and fantasy. Modern times is producing idealist narcissists without the fortitude to face the reality that they're never going to be an astronaut, be in the NBA, or be a rockstar.
These different personalities portrayed are thus extremely influential aspects of these weeklies. Each boy naturally has one of these due to the fact that the serials go into great depth about pretty much every nuanced personality trait. And there's no central leader-boy, preventing ego-wars. So the boy reading the material associates with the character he's most like, thrusts himself into the story, merging with the original character, allowing him to march around as that character (and the serial's plot line that week) until the next publication comes out. The advertisements show the audience is primarily under twelve, with less readership between eighteen and twenty two, and lesser even, girls. Women have their own serials, but they're not as popular because they're more realistic about class and social issues. Page 208: "Of course no one in his sense would want to turn the so-called penny dreadful into a realistic novel or a Socialist tract. An adventure story must of its nature be more or less remote from real life." So the serials targeted toward women weren't as popular.
The type of propaganda we're talking about here is propaganda of point of view. Mainly, status (gender, wealth), politics, and race, roughly in that order. On page 197: "In papers of this kind it occasionally happens that when the setting of a story is in a foreign country some attempt is made to describe the native as individual human beings, but as a rule it is assumed that foreigners of any one race are all alike and will conform more or less exactly to the following patterns:
Frenchman: Excitable. Wears beard, gesticulates wildly.
Spaniard, Mexican, etc.: Sinister, treacherous.
Arab, Afghan, etc.: Sinister, treacherous.
Chinese: Sinister, treacherous. Wears pigtail.
Italian: Excitable. Grinds barrel-organ or carries stiletto.
Swede, Dane, etc.: Kind-hearted, stupid.
Negro: Comic, very faithful.
Bear in mind that English underclasses and working class have their own fictional archetypes, however, are filtered through a different lens. A strong compulsion for patriotism developed during WWII, and even though the upper class was often the semi-villain in the serial, the serials portrayed England as positive and unified. On page 198: "But their patriotism has nothing whatever to do with power-politics or 'ideological' warfare. It is more to do with family loyalty, and actually it gives one a valuable clue to the attitude of ordinary people, especially the huge untouched block of the middle class and the better-off working class. These people are patriotic to the middle of their bones, but they do not feel that what happens in foreign countries is any of their business." In addition to England believing it's always right, it's very conservative, and according to Orwell, demonstrates why Left-Wing parties fail to produce an acceptable foreign policy. The Left Wing dislikes letting foreign countries deal with their own affairs.
The publishers of the serial fiction knew boys became men, and men didn't simply reach an age where they sloughed their points of view. They became indoctrinated through literature under the rouse of simple high-flutin' blood-and-thunder serials.
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