Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rap, Cinnamon, Video Cassettes, College, and Ziggy

The Elderberries by Corey Pandolph:

The Elderberries have decided to trot out a joke that wasn't funny when it emerged in popular culture in the mid-1980s (or 25 to 30 years ago, to drive home the point).  Since there are readers who probably weren't alive in 1985, a bit of history is necessary to understand just how unfunny this strip is to anyone under the age of 65.  See, in the early 80s, there was this music style called "rap" which consisted of urban minorities--much like with R&B, early rock'n'roll, and the blues--expressed their frustration of living in Ronald Reagan's America by expressing their frustration, anger, and insecurities in a spoken word style with a rhythmic background. As with all things involving minorities in those dark days, the privileged, financial kingpins were scared and confused by this lyric style and, after unsuccessfully trying to squash the movement, realized it could be exploited to make money. Now two rappers of note of the 1980's for their aggressive lyrics and striking fear into the establishment, Ice Cube and Ice-T, of them Ice Cube makes horrible family movies and lame beer commercials, and Ice-T stars in network police dramas and reality shows about his wife, just as an example. The music of an oppressed minority became a way for the establishment to make more money by exploiting stupid kids who think the music gives them some kind of credibility or makes them appear more dangerous.  That's why the horrible music that populates the radio station apps today is decried as terrible by anyone over 35 who actually remembers N.W.A., Public Enemy, the Fat Boys and Young MC. (OK, just because I lived through the time, doesn't mean I was cool enough to be involved in any way. I was rocking out to glam rock, commercial big hair radio ballads, and classic rock in the 1980's.)

So in the 1980's, it was considered high humor for about six minutes for elderly and non-minority people with no understanding of the music to write rhyming unfunny couplets and say they were a "rap group". Yes, this stopped being funny or humorous or sly in any way over 25 years ago.  

Frazz by Jef Mallett:
I wonder if the first draft of this comic had the boy in the final panel saying "I stood near a white person and didn't get jailed" and the editors sent it back for revision.  Because, really, it should have.  Also, my kids spill cinnamon all over the counter all the time. They make peanut butter, cinnamon, and honey sandwiches. I don't think I've ever put cinnamon on anything I've ever willingly made for myself (I liked my french toast plain back when I ate it--no cinnamon, no syrup, maybe a little butter). 

But, anyway, I'm hoping Frazz was struck down by censorship and didn't just wuss out from the start.

Grand Avenue by Steve Breen and Mike Thompson:
A video rental store?  Seriously? In 2013? Draw Red Box or something. Pretend this takes place in the 21st century, please.  Draw the kids sitting on the couch holding blu-rays or dvds, or have NetFlix. It can be done creatively with the art work as well: Purple Box instead of Red Box (hah, a visual gag as well as the predictable, unfunny gag) or some play on words with NetFlix.  This is another lazy concept.  May as well draw the kids sitting in front of a giant, 1950s black and white TV with a 6 inch screen and argue about watching Mr. Ed and the Lone Ranger for all the cultural significance of a video rental store in 2013. Grrrrrrrrr.

Luann by Greg Evans:
Yes, remember this lesson, teens: Your parents are horrible creatures who will force their ideologies and views upon you and deny your wants as an adult in order to please themselves.  Of course, she does not see option three: go to college, work and pay your way through without burdening your parents with insane debt, land a job, get married, and raise children.  Why is this an either/or?  Why does her degree say PhD? That's not "a degree" that's three degrees: B.A. or B.S; M.A. or M.S.; and PhD.  So she is going to sponge off her loser parents until her 30s or marry a tool and have kids and not work or go to school or training? This comic is really starting to tick me off today. 

Ziggy by Tom Wilson & Tom II
Why does Ziggy have so many zucchini? He's not eating them apparently, so there must be a reason.  Also, he put on pants for when the pest control guy showed up, which is kind of out-of-character for Ziggy, showing an awareness and shame.  Does he feel shame over all these zucchini all over his house?  Why would there be such shame? Do you think Ziggy uses the zucchini for...GROSS!  Ziggy has no computer so he has to randomly invite blue collar workers to try and entice them into his sick and twisted sex life (just use the internet and go on Craigslist like everyone else, Zig!). Poor, Ziggy, look at that look as he gets rejected again. 


Inkwell March 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM  

I guess Ziggy is a joke about how much zucchinis grows... It took me a few minutes. I thought it was some dada thing.

BostonSportPage.Com March 4, 2013 at 5:47 PM  

I was thinking about telling a story about how as a kid we grew zucchinis and how we had so many we'd bring them to the neighbors and they'd get all upset when we brought them over because they'd have to eat them for dinner...but then I thought "Ziggy, that freak. I gotta take a shot at him instead!"
Thanks for the comment, Inkwell! Keep up the great work at TSF.

Anonymous,  March 5, 2013 at 6:36 AM  

That Elderberries is a rerun and say what you want about the joke. Phil Frank was one of the great cartoonists of the 20th Century.

BostonSportPage.Com March 6, 2013 at 6:02 PM  

Thanks for posting, Anonymous. My issue was the joke in Eldeberries. Nothing against the late, great Phil Frank....Farley was a great, ground-breaking strip. I'd bet they just threw his name on the masthead and he had nothing to do with this particular strip.

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All editorial matter on this blog is copyright 2008 Bryce Baker and may not be reproduced without permission. All Rights Reserved. All images of comic strip art are copyright by their respective copyright holders except those in public domain. If you are the copyright holder of an image displayed on this blog and would like a specific copyright displayed, or believe the display transcends fair use, please contact me.

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