Tuesday, February 7, 2012

19th Century Japanese Goofus and Gallant

Were you a kid going to the dentists anytime in the 60s, 70s or 80s? I don't know what the connection is, but it seems that dentist's waiting rooms during that time were lousy with Highlights magazines. If you were lucky enough to be one of those kids whose regular oral hygiene checks included a significant stay in a magazine filled room then Goofus and Gallant may just be among your early memories of behavior models.  Pronounced Ga-LAHNT, because GAL-ent never occurred to me, the well-behaved twin modeled perfect behavior while Goofus - let's just say, did not.

But creator, Dr. Gary Cleveland Myers, was not the first to use pictures of boys with contrasting behaviors to highlight good behavior. An earlier instance can be found in the work of Utigawa Kuniyoshi, a Master of ukiyo-e, who created the Moral Guidelines for Good and Naughty Apprentices in the mid 1800s.

This shows a good apprentice doing his master's errands,
while the bad apprentices are harassing, baiting, and beating the dogs.
This shows the good apprentice feeding the dogs while the bad
apprentices are beating the dogs.
This shows that a good apprentice doesn't forget to say thank you,
while bad apprentices kick puppies!!!
And you thought it was hard to find good help these days. Apparently those mid-century Japanese apprentices were more than just goofus, they were downright repugnant! Kicking puppies!

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