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Archetypes

Old Salt

This is the picture of an old man, but what we really see is the myth of the roughened fisherman. His calloused face, white beard, and yellow raincoat are distinct elements that create direct associations to the reinforced narrative of the New England Fisherman. “Cape Cod, Mass.” is placed on the top portion of the postcard, immediately linking the image of the fisherman to the region. This creates a connection to the myth that fishermen in the Northeast region are hardened old men that finish each sentence with a scowl. These have become common knowledge spread through popular culture ranging from marketed food products such as Gorton’s fish sticks to movies like The Perfect Storm.  Though this postcard is about a hundred years old, modern readers associate it with the narratives reinforced through modern media. Our knowledge of this character is based not on its historical context but on a myth made larger than what their real lifestyle entailed. Many viewers may even associate this fisherman to completely unrelated narratives such as Moby Dick and Long John Silver’s. In this way we create, as a culture, a false perception of who these fishermen really are and only help strengthen the stereotype. Below the photo, the text reads, “I am an old man, and have had many troubles, but most of ‘em never happened.” This is a narrative that contributes to the myth behind Cape Cod fisherman as the man pictured has endured so many years on the sea, that he has become senile.


          

 

 

 

 

Tahitian Beauty

 

The “Tahitian Beauty” is set in a tropical region full of wild foliage that brings out the exotic feel of the image. She is pictured in a natural setting, drawing attention to the myth that all women of the isles are naturally beautiful and wild. Her lei headdress signifies that she is probably indigenous to the island. The narrative of her beauty alludes to the myth that foreign women are more attractive and mysterious than those of the viewers’ home country. The stereotype of the exotic beauty is played up in this postcard with the intent, most likely, to attract tourists. The myth is altered by modern elements, such as the lipstick and eyeliner, which contrasts with the original narrative of natural beauty. Her gaze invites the viewer to pick up the postcard. There’s a double meaning to this since the back side of the postcard allows us to make the connection that Pan American Airlines printed the postcard as an advertisement for flights inviting tourists to Tahiti. Though the postcard is to be distributed in Tahiti, we can assume that this is only a construction for marketing purposes since it was produced and printed in Boston, Mass. Stereotypes, after all, can be profitable. 

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Archetypes