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The Stereotype

The most interesting aspect of this postcard is that in its inclusion of two versions of the same character, it simultaneously breaks and reinforces a myth. It portrays the stereotype of the white, upper-class male in the early 1900’s.  His attire ties him to the era—black top hat, monocle, black overcoat, umbrella, and gold pocket watch. On the left side of the postcard labeled P.M., he is shown at his most formal. His looks can be associated with the narrative of a 20th century gentleman. The personality of this narrative is most often understood to be a man who is always in his very best, both in looks and behavior. The left side image not only meets the standard but also lives up to this narrative. On the right side of the postcard labeled A.M., the same man appears in a drunken stupor. The comical aspect of the postcard resides in the contrast, divided by a distinct line between the two men. The image on the A.M. half breaks the myth since the man is a disaster in terms of appearance and behavior. He is disheveled and stands pigeon-toed with a broken umbrella, wrinkled clothing, undone tie, crushed hat, and messy hair. He has lost his once proper attitude and grins mischievously. The two images are complete opposite narratives of each other but remain connected. Though the second image is meant to break the stereotype, its comedic aspect only serves to reinforce it. 

The Stereotype