There’s A Slap For ThatPosted: June 3, 2011
My son and I watched an old black and white television show one day when he was four or five years old. I told him that the show was on when I was his age. We watched for a while and then he asked “when did the world change?” I thought that was a little deep. It was hard to decide where to start to answer that question for him. I considered talking about the upheaval of the late 60’s, the Vietnam War and the Nixon years. I decided the best strategy was to clarify what it was he was after.
It turns out that, based on the fact that the show we were watching was in black and white and that it was on television when I was his age, he’d concluded that the world was black and white when I was a boy. Colors were something that came along later. Shades that were not black or white, like red, yellow and blue, obviously came later in my lifetime. With the information he had at hand, I could see his logic.
Recently, I reached a conclusion in a similar manner. I’m pretty sure in the 1940’s and 1950’s people slapped each other all the time.
Whole Lotta Slappin’ Goin’ On
I wasn’t around until the 1960’s. I have no direct knowledge of what went on before that. Most of my knowledge of the culture of the ’40’s and ’50’s is based on bits and pieces of old movies I catch on television. Based on what I have seen, slapping someone was just part of life. Being slapped was also part of life. In fact, my research shows that fifty percent of people involved in a slapping incident are not the slapper.
Everyone slapped everyone. Women slapped other women. Women slapped men, and vice versa. Men slapped men. Did I leave anyone out? Cats and Dogs probably slapped one another too, but they were not doing it at the MGM Studio, so we really don’t have as much of a record of that.
According to my observations, there were clearly accepted reasons to slap someone during the middle of the twentieth century. I’ve found a few clips that demonstrate reasons for slapping as well as some important slapping techniques. Let us examine our first slap, shall we?
The woman who gets slapped in this clip is, in the eyes of her slapper, too excited about something. The slapper delivers a wicked blow to her cheek that brings an end to the conversation while simultaneously establishing that there is a difference of opinion. Back in those days, a clear and passionate difference of opinion justified a slap.
Let’s also talk technique. The slapper in this clip gets a lot of power and speed into her slap by starting her swing from well behind her own hip. Superior technique allows her to hit her opponent so hard she actually slaps the taste out of the other woman’s mouth.
In this next example, we see another difference of opinion slap. I bring you this clip to point out the lightning fast double slap technique. Unfortunately for you, and the victim, this double slap is so fast it is barely visible to the human eye. The double slap is so quick that the woman who was slapped isn’t even sure she was slapped, she just knows her face hurts and the argument is over.
Our next slap justification is discipline. People slapped each other to straighten one another out. In this clip, a young boy comes off a stage to berate an elderly woman – a common problem in the ’40’s and ’50’s. She handles him by raining six slaps down on him. Observe:
It seems that the woman would like this young man to “stop it”.
It is obvious from this clip that slapping was not only socially acceptable, but expected. Note that the crowd rises to its feet, but no one comes to the aid of the boy. The woman slaps him silly, but the crowd’s only concern seems to be getting into a good position to see what is happening. This tells me that they supported the slapper’s actions, or they did not like the boy. It may be both of those things.
Now we move on to another category of slap justification – the bad nickname slap. The couple involved are clearly feeling some tension. The tension remains managed until John Wayne calls the woman “Hunky”. The woman clearly does not like being called that and whips a cranial slap on The Duke.
How powerful was the slap? Watch the clip again. After the slap, the woman asks Wayne why he came to see her. He answers with a very mechanical “I’m not sure”. In this case, the blow knocked his short term memory out.
Our last slap again features John Wayne, this time in the role of the slapper. It seems that slapping was justified when needed to get someone to pull themselves out of a panic. In this clip, Wayne delivers some stress management to a fellow pilot.
Wayne’s double slap is significantly slower than the one shown earlier. There are two good reasons for this. First, he gets an extremely long back swing for the second powerful slap. Perhaps of equal importance is that John turns his hand, getting palm to face contact on both blows. A lesser man would have had to deliver a back hand for one of the blows.
When I was very young my mother told me that slapping someone was “the most terrible thing you could do to a person”. I think this was very radical thinking on her part given that she was around during the slap happy ’40’s and ’50’s. She pointed out the pain and humiliation the person slapped would feel. Mom taught me that I should never be around someone who would consider doing that to me and how upset she’d be if she ever knew I slapped someone. Mom is right. If you can’t talk to someone and settle an issue, they aren’t someone you should be around.
Some people see those old movies and wonder what it would have been like to live back then. Some are nostalgic for what they recall of that era. I see those old movies and I’m glad I didn’t live back then. I couldn’t put up with all the slapping. It’s a very clear issue for me.
It’s like black and white.