Interview with Bystander Propagandist, Katherine Shane, Ph.D., on her favorite WPA Posters
Dinosaurs, Sharks, Babies, and a Gender Reveal.
To provide jobs during the Great Depression, the Works Projects Administration hired unemployed artists to create tens of thousands of posters.
We are lucky to have an expert on WPA posters here in the office. Katherine Shane, Ph.D. serves as Chief Propagandist for The American Bystander. She runs our lucrative side-hustle creating tastefully humorous content for dictatorships. Katherine’s “Just Say No (to Protests)” campaign for Iran just won us a coveted Goebbels Prize for Best Digital Campaign.
We asked Katherine to select some of her favorite WPA posters and tell us about their history.
AS OLD AS CREATION
Bystander: Tell us about this poster.
Katherine: The first thing you should know is that dinosaurs actually did have syphilis. Their bones are crawling with it. So that part is accurate. The mystery is how did cavemen — and cavewomen— got dinosaurs to sleep with them? But syphilis is still with us today, so they must’ve figured it out. I know how I’d do it.
The poster is signed “JD.” That’s Jerard Demmett, and he was an interesting guy. He thought dinosaurs had always been around, even from the start of the universe. He also thought the universe was just three hundred years old. That definitely would have influenced the design.
Bystander: Fascinating. What’s next?
PNEUMONIA STRIKES LIKE A MAN EATING SHARK
Katherine: When I was about six I was out at the Jersey Shore. I remember the ocean was calm—eerily so. I saw a little fish beneath the waves. I followed it and lost track of how deep I was. Before I knew it, I was treading water, my toe barely able to dip down to graze the sandy floor below.
And then, out of nowhere—BAM! I contracted pneumonia. That’s how fast it can get you. If only I had seen this poster, I might not still have this click in my lungs. You hear the click? Do you think I should I get it checked out?
Bystander: Oh yeah. You should see a pulmonologist.
Katherine: Don’t tell me what to do!
UNFAIR TO BABIES
Katherine: Not many people know this because historians keep it quiet, but back in the 1930s babies didn’t have penises. Or vulvas or noses. And they all worked in factories and had Norman Osborn’s hair. I mean Norman Osborn from the Spider-Man comics. In the movies he’s played by Willem Dafoe, but for Peter Parker he is da foe. So that part tracks.
The last thing I’ll point to here is the thighs. Dude, this baby works out. He doesn’t look helpless, he looks swole and angry. Steer clear.
Bystander: Katherine, thank you! This was wonderful.
Katherine: (Throws up.) Pleasured!
LAST WEEK ON TWOFIFTYONE.NET
Moving on, here’s what we published last week on our own propaganda arm, twofiftyone.net.
Catherine Davis challenged us to tell who said it—The New York Sun in their letter to Virginia, or the founder of the NXIVM cult?
Finally, we published this cartoon from Zack Rhodes. The funniest thing in the world to me right now is that woman in the back uncontrollably retching.
MY UNCLE USED TO PLAY A GAME LIKE THAT WITH US WHEN WE VISITED
Don’t want to hear it! Lalalalalala, can’t hear you!
I almost forgot the good news! You’re going to hear from “Weasel” Gerber this Friday. We decided that we love writing these emails to you and we want to do it more often. Sure hope you like getting them. If not, think of it as character-building.
I’ll see you next Tuesday!
IN CLOSING, A MESSAGE FROM MICHAEL “WEASEL” GERBER
I once contracted syphilis from handling a brontosaurus femur, Happy Holidays.—M. “W” G.
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This was The American Bystander’s Viral Load. The parts that weren’t written by other people were written by Michael Pershan, Deputy Editor of The American Bystander. Help support our work by subscribing or sharing this newsletter. Kliph Nesteroff’s “The Comedians” is very much worth your time. Groucho probably dropped acid.