Thursday, July 19, 2007

FASCIST TENNIS, ANYONE?


So I'll be on honeymoon for the next month or so, but I wanted to share something with you all. In the back of a tiny, shabby thrift I saw an old tennis racket. Looked like it was from the 1950s or older, with one of those old fashion wooden clamps on it to keep it from warping. I seen tons of these, so nothing special.


But upon closer inspection I saw this odd logo. And I thought is that flying fasces? Symbol of Mussolini's Black Shirts?


Okay, so I know it's an old symbol, that goes back to Roman times, and just happened to be on the back of out dimes before they put on the torch or liberty and FDR


But as I rolled the racket over, I saw the racket's name: The Dictator.


Which is kind of bizarre, right? I mean, wouldn't that kind of like be calling a pair of running shoes today the Suicide Bombers or the Al Qaeda Terrorists?

I'm not sure of how old this racket is, but I'd guess it's pre-WWII. The racket looks pretty old (yo can see some of th string rotten away in the first pic). Would anyone in the late 40s or 50s, who lived through the recent horrors of the war buy a tennis racket that glorified fascism? Probably not.

So let's say the racket is from the mid-1930s. That makes sense, stylistically. Check out this very fascist eagle that's on exterior of Santa Barbara's downtown post office, circa 1936.


Even the bas-relief murals on the inside post office have that stylish totalitarian, glorification-of-the-worker-drone optimism about them.




Certainly this style was part of the art deco aesthetic, I get that. And by the way, that last mural with Indians attacking the pioneers highlights the racially insensitive and pretty un-PC nature of the day. But to name the racket after a militaristic crank despot? Hindsight is 20-20, but was the sales department at Wilson's so blind to the naked ambitions of Hitler and Mussolini and the host of other dictators in the 1930s that this moniker seemed innocent?

And dictators weren't even that great at sports. Assuming this racket was made after 1936, then Wilson couldn't escape the dismal showing of the "master race" when the Olympics were held in Berlin.

To me, it just goes to show depths a company will stoop to sell you a product. Witness this 1980s supermarket meat poster obvious lifted from a Nazi propaganda poster.



I couldn't really find any info on the web about Wilson's Dictator, but if someone knows more I'd sure like to here it.

59 comments:

Roxanne said...

That Meat Nazi poster is really frightening. Did they think no one would notice?

eniksleestack said...

Apparently, the artist claimed he never even saw the Hitler Youth poster it was stolen from. Yeah, right. There's more here:

meghan said...

Oh, man... the two posters together are pretty insane!
Great blog!

Jenny said...

Happy Wedding Enik and congratulations to you and Mrs. Sleestack. Wish we could've been there. Enjoy Europe and take lots of pictures!

The Fiji Mermaid said...

What a crazy find... I can't believe that was on a tennis racket.

Harvey Jingley said...

Hi, cool blog.

Just one thing -- you mention the master races did not do too well at the 1936 Olympics -- this is a mistake. Germans and Italians have always been great athletes.

Here is the Wikipedia medal count -- you might have to scroll down.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1936_Summer_Olympics#Medal_count

While it is true that the great Jesse Owens stole some of their thunder -- the medal count was probably given a totally different political spin in the Italy and Germany of the time.

Harvey Jingley said...

Should have put "master races" in quotation marks (inverted commas) lest I look like a nut.

:-)

eniksleestack said...

@Harvey

Thanks for visiting.

I just remembered the newsreel footage of Hitler walking out on Jesse Owens, but I guess the Germans and Italians did pretty well.

But I was a little surprised to learn that according to that same Wikipedia article you linked to, India beat Germany in Hockey to win a gold!

Anonymous said...

I think “The Dictator” is also representative of two things: 1) the pro-fascist mentality in the U.S. before WW2; 2) the hand U.S. companies had in the arming and funding of the Nazi movement. You can go to my site and read about such dealings at http://www.vyzygoth.com/unholy.pdf. It’s an article that appeared in a May 1976 "Penthouse" after certain documents were rendered unclassified.

Even today the U.S. government is tattooed with fascist symbology that goes unnoticed. Heck, the whole of the District of Columbia (ever ask yourself what’s with "Columbia") is modeled, they tell us, in the classic Greek and Roman styles. They look fascist/statist to me.

We have met the Reich. And we be the Reich.

Harvey Jingley said...

Hi. Back again!

India beating Germany in hockey was in FIELD hockey ,of course -- and India were the best in the world back then. Germany is pretty good NOW though.

Peace!

Harvey Jingley said...

Hi. Back again!

India beating Germany in hockey was in FIELD hockey ,of course -- and India were the best in the world back then. Germany is pretty good NOW though.

Peace!

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