There’s something about syrupy sweet about Valentine’s Day that begs you to be subversive. Huge boxes of chocolate need some cayenne pepper. Romantic movies need a follow up with too many kids, boredom and midlife crises. But most of all, adorable Valentine’s messages need some implication of murder and cannibalism.
Good luck we have history to look towards to find our Valentine’s Day sadism.
Over at parenting site babble, Sunnychanel has posted an article titled “20 Totally Creepy & Odd Vintage Valentine’s Cards.”
All of the cards are particularly creepy because most of them feature cute, roly-poly kids with sharp knives or intentions of cannibalism in the cards’ messages. Some of them illustrate some pretty creepy situations—like a baby angel grilling hearts over an open flame, and a well-dressed woman buying one.
A few others feature bondage and worm eating. A gleeful-looking cartoon cat has his arms bound behind his back with the words “I’m bound to be yours if you’ll be mine.” I guess they were pretty much into the literal back then.
Another goofy card includes a picture of a crying boy sitting on the rock with the caption “Nobody loves me! Guess I’ll just go outside and eat fuzzy worms!” The saddest part of the valentine is that said fuzzy worm is crying in sympathy with the boy. The worm’s only repayment for his kindness will be his demise. Seriously, to whom did you send a card like this? You’d sound both pathetic and insane in one fell swoop.
Another card I can’t imagine sending features an adorable black-and-white puppy with a bow around his neck staring down the barrel of a giant gun. The front of the card is illustrated with the words “Aw gee, there ain’t no use in living—.” The receiver is horrified until she opens the card and the little puppy rides the gun’s bullet with his sweetheart with the caption “—without a little lovin’!” Those two dogs--and the sender--definitely dodged a bullet—har, har.
Although these cards are certainly funny to look at, they also provide a surprisingly accurate commentary about how politically correct attitudes have changed since these cards were originally produced. I think it’s a good thing that we’re more cognizant about rape culture—it seems particularly appropriate to keep that kind of nasty innuendo out of valentines—but also about depictions that could offend. It’s certainly a strange that we needed a wake-up call about this, though; when did anybody think they’d get some smooches with a card with a girl boiling in a black kettle?