Martin and I get the Sunday paper delivered each week. I look forward to pulling it apart section by section and learning more about the new community we live in. I try to read it all, including corn and crop reports and University of Illinois business (FOREVER A BUCKEYE!!!) and save the store advertisements and comics for last.
When I was a kid, I only read two sections of the paper. The two most important sections of the paper, by my “kid standards” were:
- The Arts & Entertainment section. How else would I know about the movies coming out, or the TV shows to watch for or what music was coming to town?
- The Comics (we called them the Funnies at our house)
I remember relishing in the Funnies from front to back. My favorites were Baby Blues, For Better or for Worse, Zits and Peanuts. I found them to be relatable (yes, even for an only child) and heart warming. I starred as Peppermint Patty in a community youth theater production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” so Peanuts really reigned supreme for me.
Yesterday it was a cool 55 degrees when we got up. We made coffee and brought our breakfast outside to the patio where Martin started a bonfire and we sat in the sunshine. We wore sweatshirts and long pants, and each read a piece of the paper, and leisurely enjoyed this cool beautiful morning.
These past few weeks, I’ve read through the Funnies, and barely cracked a smile. Something was bothering me about them, and it wasn’t until yesterday, that I could put my finger on it.
The Funnies aren’t funny anymore.
They are touting utterly deplorable human interaction, crappy communication, abominable gender stereotypes and exploiting ignorance to the fullest. The level of un-originality was astounding. I almost couldn’t choke out my upsetted-ness yesterday with Martin, who wholeheartedly agreed. But let me show you how:
For Better of For Worse gave us the poor communication in a failing marriage and gender stereotypes where the stay at home mom can’t tear herself away from soap operas during the day, and the dad can’t tear himself away from sports at night.
Baby Blues showed us more gender stereotypes in surround sound with another stay at home mom who spent the entire strip on the phone bitching about how awful her children are to her working husband who will try anything (including changing to toner in the copier) to get out of talking to her.
Hi & Lois gave us yet another stay at home mom who has raised her children to be utter monsters that think it’s Mom’s job to entertain them all summer long while school is out.
Hagar the Horrible is blatantly sexist when all he wants the entire strip is for his wife to make him a sandwich, bring him a beer and give him a back rub. Oh, but don’t worry, Helga finally lays down the law at the latter…
Blondie slaps us with more gender stereotypes because Blondie doesn’t know what she wants to eat, except every option Dagwood offers is not acceptable.
Pickles showed us deplorable human interaction where an old woman feigns illness to her Facebook friends just to con them into delivering her some homemade chicken soup.
The Born Loser awards ignorance by saying we shouldn’t broaden our horizons when it comes to NON American cuisine. If the food ain’t ‘Murrican, and the menu ain’t in ‘Murrican, I DON’T WANT IT.
Am I the only one who feels exasperated the further I get into this list???
THANK SOMETHING, though, because there were a few (only a few) that stayed safe:
Luann, Mutts and Garfield all played off pet stereotypes. Everyone relates to these, young, old, poor, rich, smart, dumb, it doesn’t matter: A cat does funny things, and a dog’s love is boundless.
Zits gave us a tug to our heartstrings when Mom sits in a chair and misses when her son was small enough to snuggle on her lap. So he sits on her lap as a teenager and Mom is suddenly OK with how much he’s grown. (But does this belong in the Comics? The Funnies??)
Peanuts continued with the age old non-relationship between Linus and Sally, and Snoopy’s genuine love for everyone, all the time, no matter what (because he’s a DOG). It’s hard for Peanuts to fail, because Charles Schulz is gone, so they’re all re-runs, which is a-ok with me! He also almost never touched on people being crappy human beings, he kept everything so positive, and genuinely kind.
I digress. The point is: The Funnies just aren’t funny. They’re sad and infuriating. Why is this? Martin and I threw around some ideas:
- Could it be another signal that the printed paper is dying?
- The audience that gets it’s papers delivered has aged, and the younger generations continue to get the bulk of their news online?
- Is this a trickle down from our politics? Rewarding of “simple people and simple humor”? (By over-using terms like “GREAT” instead of the million other synonyms…)
- Could it be that no one has taken the time to express their non-comedic value?
- Is it because vastly unoriginal could be a safe space?
We couldn’t put our fingers on any single reason, so for now, I’ll stick to my tried and true Arts & Entertainment section for solitude. What do you think? Share your ideas in the comments!