Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Ostrich Dude - Again

Remember the earlier post featuring the Ostrich Dude? Of course not, it was back in February. Here's a link to it, so you can take a look at those dude cards too. I did a little more delving, because I wanted to know more about the significance of the dude.  He seems to have had universal appeal, since the cards were printed with store names from different parts of the country.

I found a reference to the subject in a book called Masculinity and Men's Lifestyle Magazines edited by Bethan Benwell. A chapter of the book features one of the same ostrich dude trade cards from the previous post, but with a Michigan store name printed on the front.  The author, Bill Osgerby, explains that during the late 19th century, fashion had very feminine associations. Debonair and dapper men may have been admired by some, but they were also the object of a certain amount of ridicule.

Osgerby suggests that the term 'dude' was probably derived from the German-American usage of Dudenkopf or idiot. Over the years, male fashions became more acceptable and the term dude largely lost its negative connotations. But at the time these cards were printed (1880s), the dude was still an object of scorn. I also get a sense from these cards that regular guys were afraid that women might fall for the guys wearing fancy clothes.

Note the difference between the real man and our poor dude. The real man is well dressed, but without the embellishments of watch fobs, a monocle, spats, plaid patterns, fancy tails, high collar, and shiny lapel pins. Our real man is also able to fight with his fists; the dude doesn't have any. Poor dude!


  1. Totally fascinating. Great cards, great explanation. The "real man" looks so dull compared to the dude. Now where can I get some spats?

  2. I'm with Alan, check out the over-sized fists and hunchback on the 'real man'! Makes you question who the true masher is...

  3. Ach Gottchen, der arme Dude.
    Ich fine ihn ganz bezaubernd,
    und diesen schwachkopf von Gewaltmensch
    bricht ihm das Bein über, unfassbar.
    Immer auf die wehr- und faustlosen.
    Es ist ein jammer in userer Welt.
    Hsast du die blöden Weiber gesehen?
    Die grinsen noch dazu.
    Bei mir bkäme der Dude Asyl. Misammt Monokel und Gamaschen.
    hab ein schönes Wochenende

  4. Der Dude ist auf dem Weg zu dir, Janine. Warnung: er hat viele Koffern, denn er hat auch viele Gamaschen und Handschuhe und Stiefeln und was noch.

  5. Yikes! That poor leg! I had no idea of the origins of "dude," but more to the point, I still have no idea how it is used in American English today. However, I shall do my research. It's a good thing I like to look things up. :p



Related Posts with Thumbnails