“Grotesque, monstrous and obscene” – a well-endowed 1930s Camel ad optical illusion

"Grotesque, monstrous and obscene" - a well-endowed 1930s Camel ad optical illusion
 "When you feel "all in"- 
get a lift with a Camel!"

This 1930s Camel cigarette ad (and it is a real ad, not a fake) caused oddly-photographed gentleman jockey Crawford Burton to go to court and sue for libel. He didn’t see the photos before they were published, and either those who made the ad didn’t notice, thought nobody else would notice, or planned it in secret marketing meetings to create a phallic cigarette ad to increase sales.

Besides the double meaning in the headline, Mr. Burton’s quoted words likely provided many a snigger as well:

"Whether I’m tired from running a hard race or from the pressure and tension of a crowded business day, I feel refreshed and restored just as soon as I get a chance to smoke a Camel. So I’m a pretty incessant smoker, not only because Camels give me a "lift" in energy, but because they taste so good! And never yet have Camels upset my nerves."

"Grotesque, monstrous and obscene" - a well-endowed 1930s Camel ad optical illusion
Have you tried this enjoyable
way of heightening energy?
(Click to greatly enlarge)

Said Judge Learned Hand, who heard an appeal of the court case:

of the photographs was "susceptible of being regarded as representing
plaintiff as guilty of indecent exposure and as being a person
physically deformed and mentally perverted"; that some of the text, read
with the offending photograph, was "susceptible of being regarded as
falsely representing plaintiff as an utterer of salacious and obscene
language"; and finally that "by reason of the premises plaintiff has
been subjected to frequent and conspicuous ridicule, scandal, reproach,
scorn, and indignity."

"…the photograph becomes grotesque, monstrous, and obscene; and
the legends, which without undue violence can be made to match,
reinforce the ribald interpretation. That is the libel."

"We dismiss at once so much of the complaint as alleged that the
advertisement might be read to say that the plaintiff was deformed, or
that he had indecently exposed himself, or was making obscene jokes by
means of the legends. Nobody could be fatuous enough to believe any of
these things; everybody would at once see that it was the camera, and
the camera alone, that had made the unfortunate mistake. If the
advertisement is a libel, it is such in spite of the fact that it
asserts nothing whatever about the plaintiff, even by the remotest
implications. It does not profess to depict him as he is; it does not
exaggerate any part of his person so as to suggest that he is deformed;
it is patently an optical illusion…"

Hand Holding Gives Jockey a Lift in Absurd Libel Case, North Jersey Law Injury Blog>>

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