6 US Military Training Videos That Were Pure Insanity
A good training video will only be useful for a limited number of years before it gets outdated and no one watches it ever again -- like amateur porn, or James Cameron's Avatar. A bad training video, on the other hand? That shit will be making people laugh forever. And if it's combined with the dire danger and supposed nobility of serving in the U.S. military? All the better. So let's get started.
Safety In Offices (1944) -- The Most Dangerous Element In Every Office: Vaginas
Safety In Offices stars "Miss Dimple," a WWII-era office klutz who maims more soldiers than IEDs and motorcycles combined.
The movie is so sexist that it's technically illegal to give this kind of workplace advice today. "Why go through those unladylike gyrations?" the narrator wonders as Miss Dimple attempts to open a filing cabinet the wrong way. Instead you're supposed to do what this other guy did and, uh ... die?
A running theme is that women are constantly trying to cut off their own fingers by misusing office equipment, and it's up to old dudes to save them. Yes, Uncle Sam wants YOU ... to mansplain at the office. Another highlight is the surprisingly detailed showcase for ways people fall down the stairs. It seems 1940s humans weren't evolved enough to know how to handle this technology quite yet.
The film ends with Miss Dimple finally getting her due and being run down by a guy on a bike. Now the country can begin to heal.
Once Too Often (1950) -- Safety Is Important (But Drunk Driving Ain't That Bad)
Once Too Often is designed to teach soldiers that every time you do something risky, God will punish you. He hates the armed forces, apparently.
The Odd Couple's Jack Lemmon (who's uncredited, probably at his request) plays an impressively dumb GI who crosses the street without looking, smokes in bed, jumps into water without checking the depth, ogles women while driving at high speeds, and stands on a rocking chair while changing a light bulb. After a while it seems clear that he simply wants to end his miserable existence, but the cruel puppet masters controlling his fate won't let him.
Early on, the GI hitches a ride with a clearly plastered driver. Later he gets behind the wheel while shitfaced himself. The toga guys aren't pleased, but they let both instances slide. The moral is that the Universe will actually let you get away with some insanely reckless stuff every once in a while; just make sure you're drunk while doing it.
After defying death in myriad ways, what eventually kills the GI is ... walking around while low on sleep, causing him not to notice an oncoming truck. If that was more dangerous than drunk driving, college campuses would have a 90 percent mortality rate.
Strictly Personal (1945) -- Servicewomen Should Look As Hot As Possible
In order to help servicewomen increase their "effectiveness and attractiveness in every department of living," the film introduces Ms. Helen Matthews, a (wholly fictional) expert in lady stuff. She starts off by pointing at a picture of the Venus de Milo and passive-aggressively informing us that her measurements correspond to the physical proportions of the "average American woman." Which is clearly bullshit; after all, she has much shorter arms.
Matthews takes a break from negging the viewer to emphasize the importance of diet, exercise, and sleep ("sound sleep, health sleep, beauty sleep"). She even gives relaxation tips to a servicewoman who lays awake at night worrying about important national security issues like "Why hasn't Jim written?"
Matthews turns to the subject of exercise, which is important, because it will "save you from the embarrassment of being called one of those attractive-from-the-neck-up-girls ... and I don't mean the intellectual type." She clarifies what she means with this illustration of some deceptively sexy Martians:
Finally, the most important lesson: how to apply foundation, blush, and rouge, with different charts showing patterns for elongated and round faces. Plus, eyebrow-trimming and hairdo tips! We don't think it's a coincidence that we won WWII only a few months after this was released.
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Red Nightmare (1962) -- The Evil Commies Are Coming To Open Museums!
Cold War paranoia may have done a number on America's collective psyche, but at least it produced some pretty hilarious educational films. A fine example of this is 1962's Red Nightmare, in which a store-brand version of Rod Serling shows us what America would look like if those filthy commies were running the show.
The movie centers on Jerry Donovan, an average Joe (well, Jerry) who wakes up to find himself living under communism. There are officers with military-caliber gear on the streets, nothing works, quotas rule his workday, Russia openly interferes with everything, and the courts have been taken over by rabid partisans. Heaven forfend. And the worst part: His church has been replaced with *gasp* a free museum.
That's the last straw. Jerry absolutely loses his shit after finding out that the Soviets are falsely claiming they invented the telephone. Only Alexander Graham Bell gets to do that, you red rats!
Jerry is arrested and sentenced to death for the crime of standing up for freedom (the freedom to cause property damage at a museum). Of course, it was all a bad dream -- a dramatic plot twist completely spoiled by the movie's title. As a happy epilogue, Jerry wakes up to hear that his daughter's boyfriend wants to serve in the army, which he calls "a very wise decision." Remember that this was right as the Vietnam War was ramping up. If there's one thing Jerry hates more than communism, it's his daughter's boyfriend.
Private Snafu (1943) -- Beware Nazi Boobs
Private Snafu holds the distinction for being the only Looney Tunes character whose name includes the words "fucked up." He was created for a series of WWII training films and voiced by Mel Blanc, the same actor behind Bugs Bunny (which is obvious, since he didn't bother to come up with a new voice).
The Snafu shorts are surprisingly boob-centric, both for Warner Bros. cartoons and U.S. Army-produced films. In Spies, for instance, Snafu runs his mouth about secret army plans to everyone he encounters, from his mom to Adolf Hitler himself (in Hell). About halfway through, he blabs to a woman in a bar who appears to be a Nazi spy, as subtly suggested by the big swastikas on her breasts / intercontinental broadcasting devices.
Another short, aptly titled Booby Traps, shows Snafu fondling a lady he just met in a desert brothel, as one does, only to realize there's something off about her unusually firm buttocks and chest.
Private Snafu hasn't been brought back for further educational lessons, for some reason.
Sex Hygiene (1942) -- Your Dick Will Explode
The greatest threat to America during World War II wasn't Germany or Japan -- it was those loose European women with their STD-ridden vaginas. Or that's what the U.S. military was thinking when it produced Sex Hygiene. We're embedding a safe-for-work highlights reel here, but you can watch the full thing on YouTube if you're brave enough.
The film starts with a young soldier eschewing pool night with his friends to go off in search of sexual satisfaction. Next we see him leaving a place decorated with a naked statue -- either he visited a brothel or jerked off in an art museum. Presumably as punishment for that one guy's indiscretions, the entire regiment is forced to sit through a sex ed presentation featuring uncomfortably long close-ups of infected dongs. We can't show you that part, but we can show the soldiers' traumatized reactions:
The most informative part of the movie within the movie is when the soldiers are taught how to properly use a condom. First, of course, you blow it up like a balloon animal.
Then you fill it with "two cups of water," in case you decide to have an impromptu water balloon fight with your foreign lady friend.
After the deed is done, immediately rush to your nearest Army "prophylactic station," where two medical officers will stare at your dick as you thoroughly wash it. You must do this every time you have sex, because whoever your partner was, according to this movie, she "probably" had syphilis and/or gonorrhea. And that's why your grandpa doesn't trust women to this day.
Jacopo (@Jacopo_della_Q) is the author of two amazing books and lots of other nifty things you can read here. Adam Koski wrote Not Meant to Know, a suspenseful combination of occult horror and crime drama.
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