Donald McGill wrote comic postcards in the early twentieth century, spanning various topics obscenely, yet never crossing the line into pornography. He mocked sex, home life, bathroom humor, class snobbery, and general figures like doctors and lawyers, and politics. What makes McGill so impressive are his one-liners that aren't cookie cutter, though acutely embodied the concurrent social milieu. Each one had its own nuance, though were all tonally consistent with the categorical topic. Men always wanted sex and women always wanted to get married. Doctors always wanted a way of removing just a little more of their young, attractive female patient's clothing, and chatting women always implied sexual marvels, omitting specifics to make the interpretation ambiguous. McGill was a master of the double entendre, and his hokey illustrations which reddened men's cheeks and embellished their noses, as well as inflated women's butts to monstrous proportions, indicated his attitude toward childhood and adulthood.
Apparently, there is no intermediate stage between youth and old age. Couples in McGill's postcards appear as either young, fertile, noble and attractive, or old, chubby, manipulative and not exactly on the same page sexually. Orwell points out that this disparity isn't wholly unrealistic, in that it indicates social humanity's duality: one person wants to be noble, clean, and reputable, and the other wants to be overweight, lazy, and lecherous. Page 382: "He is it who punctures your fine attitude and urges you to look after Number One, to be unfaithful to your wife, to bilk your debts, and so on and so forth. Whether you allow yourself to be influenced by him is a different question. But it is simply a lie to say that he is not a part of you, just as it is a lie to say that Don Quixote is not part of your either, though most of what is said and written consists of one lie or the other, usually the first."
Humor is a myth; it's a fanciful tale with an element of truth. The element of truth is what makes it funny because that give it a point of reference with reality. The author simply changes the context of the truth, embellishes or reduces it, or incorporates irony to make it more palatable and thus, more mythical. It's false to think doctors observations are 100% medical-based, and McGill capitalized on that, not advocating all doctors are self-interested perverts, but definitely pointing out that they're still human and have curiosities. Same with politicians' self-centeredness, mens' wanderings, and womens' naiveté.
Page 382: "A dirty joke is not, of course, a serious attack upon morality, but it is a sort of mental rebellion, a momentary wish that things were otherwise. So also with all other jokes, which always centre round cowardice, laziness, dishonesty or some other quality which society cannot afford to encourage." So although McGill's postcards are entertainment-driven, they've got a function. They allow the civilized to blow off some steam by temporarily romanticizing uncivilized actions. This is a productive outlet for society because it allows people to mentally enjoy the uncivilized situations without ever having to engage in them directly. Orwell calls this "a harmless rebellion against virtue." (p.383) McGill was tapped into the human psyche because he saw taboos pretty clearly, then operated just above of them.
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