Bluto says: join or else

Aggressive days in the men’s underwear world, in my adaptation of a Daily Jocks ad from the 11th. There will be hot men in their underwear, suggestive captions, and a certain amount of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics; use your judgment.


OR

  (#1)

Well, now they often call him Bluto
But his real name is Dickie Steele

 (#2)

OR ELSE:

 (#3)

His balls are fuckin’ awesome
But nothing like his guy Genteel’s:

(#4)

Steele remembers Speedo,
A guy who don’t never take it slow:

 (#5)

Well, now, some may call on Joe:

 (#6)

And some may call on Moe:

 (#7)

But the twins can’t never beat Bluto
To put two lips together and blow.

……………………………………………………………………………………….

Ingredients. The main image is this DJ ad offer:

(#8)

This is the offer on the DJ site:

The DailyJocks Monthly Underwear Club is the best way to discover men’s underwear. Every month, we choose from a curated selection of underwear from international designer brands and send you a pair in your size and preferred style. It’s like a monthly surprise of the best underwear around.

It’s $21.95 a month after the come-on offer.

In (#1), the offer line has has been removed from #8, and the simple juxtaposition of clauses —

Join our underwear club
We’ll send you designer underwear every month

— (intended to convey a promise) has been turned into a (threatening) coordination with or:

Join our underwear club
Or we’ll send you designer underwear every month

After #1 comes a version of the I Want You Uncle Sam poster from World Wars I and II, an I Want You to Obey version from the Federal Trade Commission. And then in #3 a Popeye cartoon with Popeye’s nemesis Bluto pounding Popeye.

There follow four additional intense underwear images from the DJ offer site (#4 – #7). It’s all drenched in sex.

The text for all of this is adapted from the lyrics of the 1955 doo-wop hit “Speedoo” (in the original spelling) / “Speedo” (in most later references). The relevant lyrics:

Well, now, they often call me Speedo
But my real name is Mister Earl
… Well, now, some may call me Joe
Some may call me Moe
Just remember Speedo
He don’t never take it slow

You can listen to the original Cadillacs recording here.

[Digression: the lyrics of the original have been misunderstood in an enormous number of ways, including the one that I firmly believed in for years: “… they up and call me Speedo”, with the colloquial Up And VP construction. I still think that’s a more interesting line than “… they often call me Speedo”.]

From Wikipedia:

The Cadillacs were an American rock and roll and doo-wop group from Harlem, New York, active from 1953 to 1962. The group was noted for their 1955 hit “Speedoo”, written by Esther Navarro, which was instrumental in attracting white audiences to black rock and roll performers.

… Earl “Speedo” Carroll [the lead singer, whose nickname gave the title to the song] died on November 25, 2012.

Parataxis, hypotaxis, conditionals, promises, and threats. We start with Offer-Jux (above), a simple juxtaposition of two clauses, the first (join our underwear club) a subjectless BSE-form VP, the second (we’ll send you designer underwear every month) a full finite clause. Your task as reader or hearer is to construct a plausible connection between these two, to make this two-clause text coherent.

This is the general task for making sense out of text, but there are shortcuts that are conventionalized to one degree or another, and one of these is for pairs of the form above, which are more or less automatically understood as conveying a conditional:

Talk to me that way again, I’ll kiss you conveying ‘If you talk to me that way again, I’ll kiss you’

(which can be taken as a warning or threat, or as an offer or promise). In any case, a paratactic form conveying a relationship that would ordinarily be conveyed by hypotactic syntax.

In #8, the two clauses are juxtaposed on separate lines, without punctuation (as is customary in advertising copy), leading readers to take the first clause to be not merely a subjectless BSE-form VP, but in fact an imperative, so that #8 conveys both an instruction or injunction (to join the underwear club) and a conditional, that is:

Join our underwear club / We’ll send you designer underwear every month conveying ‘You should join our underwear club, and if you join, we’ll send you designer underwear every month’

Turn now to conditionals. In addition to a particular relationship between situations, conditionals can also convey either a warning or threat or an offer or promise. The same is true of coordination with and, as in

Talk to me that way again, and I’ll kiss you. (It all depends of how the addressee feels about the prospect of being kissed.)

Join our underwear club, and we’ll send you designer underwear every month.

The second of these would ordinarily be understood as an offer, on the plausible assumption that it’s directed at an audience that would welcome getting designer underwear every month; but if this assumption is wrong, then it sounds like a threat.

The corresponding coordinations with or usually convey a threat or warning

Join our underwear club, or we’ll send you designer underwear every month conveying ‘If you don’t join our underwear club, we’ll send you designer underwear every month (and I believe you wouldn’t like that)’

which is what I was playing with in #1.

(Note: my observations about the examples in this section are not original, but have been framed here so as to play down complexities in the technical literature.)

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