Below are some scans I made of a June 1957 issue of MAD Magazine– the bible of adolescent middle class boys in the 1950s and 60s– imploring Marlon Brando not to “abandon those lovable traits that endeared you to us clods!”

The self-image of the adolescent boy as embodied by early Brando undergoes a process of civility characterized by a palatability to women as we see in his supposed change of “gentlemanly traits” (helping a woman across mud puddles as opposed to pushing them in), and becoming social (dancing with women as opposed to ignoring them).

It may be excessive to read too much into the peripheral references to women, but these panels do wonderfully illustrate the view boys in the late 50s have of themselves, self-fashioned as carnivalesque “clods”, derisive and skeptical of the so-called (patriarchal?) establishment whose policies ironically seem here to suppress masculine individuality.

How might we read this kind of vision of Brando’s masculine ideal when we consider that much of MAD’s readership would go on to participate in the 1960s counterculture?

(click on the images for a larger view)

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