Welcome back to Throwback Thursday, in which we bask in the ridiculous beliefs and advice of cultural stalwarts past. Today, we’ll be exploring a fundamental genre of American cinema: the post-WWII social guidance films.
Now, as modern folks, we’re most familiar with such films by way of parody (like in Family Guy) or all-out mockery (Mystery Science Theatre 3000). But back in the day, social guidance films were serious business. Take, for example, the 1947 film Are You Popular? by social guidance movie heavy-hitter, Coronet Films (as advised by Alice Sower, Ph.D., one-time director of the Family Life Institute at the University of Oklahoma).
The 10-minute short, soaked in Stepford-esque reverence for the nuclear family, is basically behavioral propaganda that ranges from slutshaming (the narrator expressly states that “girls who park in cars are not really popular” because they make boys feel less important) to instilling hyper-heteronormative gender roles we’re still trying to break through today (when it comes to deciding what to do on a date, “it’s doing the girl no favors to leave it entirely up to her.” Because how on earth is a poor girl to decide what she wants?!)
And don’t forget, kids: “Home, parents, and personality all help boys and girls to be popular.”
Video via Prelinger Archives.