#8. Keep Pitching (USA)
Don't slack off while fighting Nazis, or this could be you.
"Keep pitching with BOTH HANDS. Because you don't have hands. Did you get it? Did you get the joke I made?"
"Don't be like that. Come on, cheer up. Give us a clap."
#7. Don't Give Your Blood (USA)
If you're not careful at work, you could hurt yourself -- AND THEN THE NAZIS WIN.
"The 7th Column" is a fairly obscure way to refer to workplace accidents during wartime, so in the absence of that context, this poster just looks like the government is discouraging people from donating blood to a particularly unpopular U.S. regiment. (And if you're gonna do that, definitely don't do it by jamming a screwdriver into your hand. We have needles now, dude.) Presumably this misunderstanding is what led the government to issue this clarification:
Note that it still looks like he stabbed his hand to get the blood out himself. On second thought, maybe needles hadn't quite caught on back then after all.
#6. Why Don't They Come? (Canada)
Something as enormous as World War I is a sad and lonely experience for just one soldier. Why not join him?
"All right, let's take out those cannons over there ... HEY! Goddammit, rifle! Stop daydreaming about being a hockey stick! What the fuck? How many times do I have to tell- ARGH I'VE BEEN SHOT!"
"Shhh! Goddammit, just give me five freakin' minutes to see the end of this!"
Also, how long did you have to look at that before you realized the guy is NOT fighting the battle blindfolded?
#5. Look Out for Buffers (USSR)
The Soviet Union was never the safest place to be a worker. Injuries in the workplace soared like Sputnik under the communists, which is why posters like this one went up to keep an acceptable amount of the population's brains intact.
We seriously have no idea how this guy could have found himself in this position in the first place. How the hell was this a problem that they had to warn people about? How many lives did idly standing between train cars and accidentally having your head squashed claim in the Soviet Union? Look at the horrible realization on that guy's face -- he's saying, "No. You took father and Pyotr and Ivan, and now you've come to take me. I knew this day would come. Forgive me, mother."
#4. Private Caution Says ... (USA)
Hey, did you know that having unprotected sex can spread diseases?
No, you probably didn't, because you're like 12. Seriously, whoever drew that cartoon of an officer urgently waking up a child clearly wasn't informed that it was going to appear in the middle of a poster with instructions for safe sex, leading to some horrible implications.
Let's try to decipher what's supposed to be happening here. Is the officer going to escort the soldier to the showers and force him to wash his privates? Or are we about to witness the incident that led to the STD emergency in the first place? Either way, Private Caution still gets spooked whenever he so much as sees another adult passing by, judging by this other poster.
#3. Don't Clutter Your Working Place (USSR)
Clutter makes baby Stalin cry. If you leave your glorious communist tools lying around the workplace, you'll trip over them like a shithead.
Is it at all clear to you what injury this guy has suffered, or what caused it? Did those giant Legos fall on him? Is he tripping over that tiny bit of junk near his right foot?
Actually, if you look at the wrench in mid-air, we're pretty sure it had been balanced precariously on one of those pieces of debris in just such a way so that when this guy's foot came down on it, it flipped up and smacked him in the balls. "DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU, COMRADE!"
#2. Loose Talk (USA)
Hey, asshole, don't try to impress your date by blabbing about weapons-manufacturing installations and top secret attack plans: You never know who's listening. Just do what the rest of us do and lie about your penis.
"Don't turn now."
"What? What is it?"
"A guy with a giant ear just sat next to us."
"What do you -- holy shit!"
"Joe, I told you not to ... Wait. Is that Hitler?"
"Probably. Honestly, I'm way more impressed by the giant ear part."
"And why is he dressed like Charlie Chaplin?"
"I've never seen anything like that ear. That's just grotesque."
"OK, now he got up and started walking."
"Do you think he heard us?"
"I think he's crying."
#1. Keep Mum (U.K.)
Even without stealth Hitlers lurking around, it's still important not to blab about the war effort, because you never know who might be a spy.
Gender equality wasn't such a hot issue in the '40s, and so it was deemed necessary to inform the population that women are not, in fact, inanimate objects and can not only understand what you're saying, but, under certain circumstances, even repeat it. There were a few other "Keep mum -- she's not so dumb!" posters produced in the U.K. ...
"Tell ya what. You go make papa a sandwich, and I'll tolerate your crying and rambling bullshit tonight."
... and naturally, they all depicted blondes. Also, note that the word "so" isn't strictly necessary to the wordplay, they just threw it in there so women didn't think this was a compliment or something.
Jacopo would like to thank @LisaAJK, @TerryMoran, @Timelady07 and everyone else kind enough to follow him on Twitter. Also, thanks to Prof. John Brown of Georgetown University for blogging about Jacopo's previous article on propaganda posters.
For more ridiculous feats in art, check out Lost In Translation: 20 Baffling Foreign Movie Posters and The 8 Manliest Foreign Movie Posters Ever.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 6 Most Needlessly Detailed Wikipedia Entries.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover which columnist has propaganda against Cody in their office.
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