November 14, 1942
The War Abroad
This cover is intriguing due to the way in which it represents the war in the Pacific. While
American society (particularly upper class New Yorkers) were quite familiar with Europeans (if only through
movies or newsreels) they were much less familiar with Asia as a whole. Indeed, the first thought that
would cross the minds of most upper class New Yorkers when asked about China would be their fine
porcelein dishes. This conception of Asia is clearly reflected in this picture, which has all the action of the war
placed upon a China dish. Moreover, the dish itself is wrought with stereotypes about Asia, including pagodas. The action of the
scene, picturing Japanese soldiers (who, following Pearl Harbor, were viewed as evil incarnate by the American people)
attacking China. Thus, Japan is portrayed as attacking an entity which upper class America can identify
with, at least with regard to the products made there which they enjoy. The presence of the pagodas as well as the old style
canons which are being used also displays the American bias against Asia as a comparatively backward part of the world.
Moreover, the fact that the scene had to be displayed on a China plate (in spite of the already semi-abstract
style of the magazine's covers) shows exactly how distant (or "other" to employ the anthropological concept) Asia and the Pacific
theatre of the war was thought to be.