Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Review of a Test, By Johnathan

I've been sitting on this one for a while, for no particular reason. No idea where I first got it from but I recently saw it again while reading Metal Men No. 19, from April 1966, so I'll say there. This was one of DC's ways of acknowledging the social upheavals of the Sixties:

That's right, DC beats Cosmopolitan by at least a decade for so with this. People could test their Brotherhood Quotient long before being able to do so with their Drama Quotient (D.Q.) or Commitment Quotient (C.Q.).* Yes, every funnybook reader in the Americas could stop reading about Superboy for a minute and figure out whether they were racists or not.

I've chopped the page that this originally appeared on up so that we can examine them individually. Let's begin, shall we?

*Actual tests that have appeared in Cosmo, says my minimal research.

I almost wish that this weren't Part A of the test, because it's a doozy. Aside from the awesome rating system - which another time I might have written an entire review of (though I must say: Mr. So-So looks a bit more like Mr. Quietly Terrified) - these categories are reasonably insane. I understand that the point of the test is to get the kids to thinking about the ways that they look at other folk, but some of the juxtapositions are sort of mind-blowing.

"Kids! How do you feel about spiders? Hate 'em, huh? Well, do you hate Jews more or less than that? Uh-huh. What about Cabbage? More or less repulsive than Negroes?" (Was that still considered an okay term? Let's see... Wikipedia says yes.) I can just imagine the brainstorming session: "Okay guys, we need a list of things that people might not like - whatcha got?" "Cabbage." "Gypsies." "That damn music those long-hairs play at all hours." "Catholics." "Hey!" "Uh... Baptists, too."

On to Part B:

I believe that all men are created equal... except for the fact that Caucasians have a much greater density. Thus, in any given gathering of disembodied heads a cluster of craniums will form around the very whitest - typically a blonde - and more racially diverse heads will orbit the resultant Orb of Paleness.

Part C:

I do! But does one-on-one basketball played in what appears to be a basketless circle of asphalt actually qualify as a sport? If so, does it require a referee? Both teams appear to think the answer is no, but we'll let the council decide once they finish discussing the budget and emerge from town hall.

Part D:

"We stand out front and point at him, if that's what you mean."

I don't know, maybe it's because I live in Halifax, but that looks like a swarming gearing up to take place. If I moved to a new neighborhood and a crowd of wildly different-sized kids started lurking outside? I'd be creeped out. If this was a picture of about a second earlier I bet the poor red-headed kid would be in the process of being pushed out the door by his mother. Kid looks sickly, too - probably won't last that long.

How'd we score?

"Chee, Billy, maybe it was wrong to firebomb alla them houses. I guess we got some thinkin' to do about our attitude twords our fellow man, huh?"

Ah, but seriously. This thing's pretty easy to poke fun at in our supremely enlightened, racism-free (I almost typed that without laughing) times, but consider that it was produced at a time when things were still nowhere near even the flawed equality that we have today, most likely by a middle-aged white guy or group of white guys and probably with the best of intentions rather than as a cynical marketing ploy. I mean, it's not like they were sprinkling positive ethnically diverse characters all over the place but at least they tried. I'll throw 'em a JOHN APPROVED.

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