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Random Seduction Of The Innocent Quote

Here’s a random quote from Frederic Wertham’s Seduction of The Innocent, the book that led to Senate sub committee hearings which helped bring down a number of comics publishers. This excerpt appears on pages 104 and 10 of chapter 4, titled The Wrong Twist. None of the reproduced illustrations in the book refer to any of the comic book scenes described. Emphasis from the book.

“We know that the dreams of adults often contain images of forbidden acts in which one of the participants belongs to a group of people considered socially inferior by the dreamer. In this way the forbidden act itself can break through the psychic censorship. Through such psychological mechanisms comic books give children a feeling od justification for violence, and sadism, frequently in fantasy and sometimes in acts. They supply a rationalization for these impulses. A large part of the violence and sadism in comics is practiced by individuals or on individuals who are depicted as inferior, sub-human beings. In this way children can indulge in fantasies of violence as something permissible.

In many comic books dark-skinned people are depicted in rape like situations with white girls. One picture, showing a girl nailed by her wrists to trees with blood flowing from the wounds, might be taken straight from the Marquis de Sade.

In another specimen the editorial viciousness is carried to the extreme of showing a white girl being overpowered by dark-skinned people who have tails. In another comic book the hero throws bombs and a Negro from his airplane. A picture shows the bombs and Negro in mid-air while the hero calls out: “BOMBS AND BUMS AWAY!”

One of the most significant and deeply resented manifestations of race prejudice in the mores of the United States is the fact that in books, movies, and magazine photographs of white women with bared breasts are taboo, while the same pictures of colored girls are permitted. Comic books for children make this same distinction. One such specimen had half-nude girls in all kinds of suggestive poses. Other pictures show typical whipping and flagellation scenes such as are found, outside of this children’s literature, only in pornographic books. When the girls are white, there is always some covering of the breasts. Only colored girls have their breasts fully exposed.

This is a demonstration of race prejudice for children, driven home by the appeal of sexual instincts. It is probably one of the most sinister methods of suggesting that races are fundamentally different with regard to moral value, and that one is inferior to the other. This is where a psychiatrist question becomes a social one.’

August 24, 2023
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