Monday, August 18, 2008

A Softer World...More Like...a STUPIDER world! ha ha ha ha ha

So I got a few requests to talk about this A Softer World comic from, I dunno, two weeks ago or something. I've delayed because I still don't know what there is to say about it.

So the point is, I guess, that xkcd has vastly different expectations for men and women? You have Mr. Hat responding in very different ways to the same statement made by a man and by a woman.


But really the comic is just about Mr. Hat, who, we have established, has finished his transformation from a clever destructive dude to a piss drinking fucktard. So I don't really give much of a shit about him anymore.

The thing is though, for all of xkcd's faults, I really don't see sexism being a problem. I thought that comic 385 was pretty nice. Maybe you guys have some examples of it, but this comic
felt like satire but because there's no fundamental element of truth there, it didn't work for me.

In general, by the way, I don't read A Softer World. I find it depressing and not very funny. I do, however, like the xkcd parody of it. Ah, the old days, when I enjoyed xkcd....


  1. I think the point was to satarize Randall's issues with women, namely that he is unable to resist putting the on a pedastool, and unable to interact with them as if they were normal people. 464 also expresses this problem.

  2. I agree with Anonymous above. This is a total satire, and Carl don't think too hard about the hat. It's just a trademark of the series, likely meant to stand in for Munroe and all of the males through whom he speaks.

    The comic's constant white-knighting and pedestals for women was a bit endearing at first, but has by now made me aware of ANY instance of it in other entertainment. If anything, 464 works really well by being one of the first xkcd's to break the creator's gender mold.

    These two-dimensional characters need to love each other as two-dimensional PEOPLE and not as an amalgamation of buzzwords or hobbies, and 464 shows promise toward that direction.

    ...unless the comic reflects a real-life breakup and Munroe's about to show us more bench-sitting and hospital stretchers.

  3. I wouldn't be surprised if 464 reflected a real break-up, because that seems to be one of Randall's problems: he's fixated on the relationship and its trappings while ignoring the person.

  4. Yeah, I got the same thing as Thomas et. al. As a woman I see this all the time, "Wow, you program?? You play video games?? I'm totally going to bone you so hard!"

    Dude, not your sexual object. Plz. stop drooling now.

    But, is the target misplaced? Perhaps, xkcd is not the WORST offender on this count, but there's definitely a bit of "nerd woman pedestal" going on. But the character shouldn't have been Mr. Hat. Bad form.

  5. I think you guys are probably right on most of this. I shouldn't have read so much into the Hat (but dammit, I miss the old Mr. Hat).

    When I think about this comic in that light it makes more sense (and is a better satire). I think I was thrown off by how elaborate and crazy the scheme with the planes is - it's the kind of think Mr. Hat would do, and the kind of thing a woman could do to make Mr. Hat fall in love with her. Maybe if it were a math thing, like "What are you doing?" "Oh just working on some topology homework" "OMG OMG OMG OMG" then I would have gotten it. But I blame myself, thank you all for steering me in the right direction.

    I think my post about 464 will be about relationship comics - someone on the forum noted (how on earth did I miss this) that no fewer than 4 xkcd comics deal with girlfriends named "megan"


  6. So, despite reading A Softer World regularly somehow I missed this (!) until I read your post. You have done a CIVIL SERVICE, sir.

    I, uh, basically have nothing to add that hasn't already been said. I am changing my name to Johnny-Come-Lately. Now I think about it xkcd in general seems to have the problem of 'being in love with the idea of a girl instead of the girl' (something Joey of A Softer World has written about before, in fact). It is successful because it always seems like a wistful sigh and a 'that would be awesome' and nobody stops to consider that the only thing we know about these girls is that they do geeky things.

    The Captcha is telling me about egpshog. It sounds... delicious.

  7. I see the same issues with gender that the "A Softer World" installment and the above comments point to, and it's particularly sad because in some ways Munroe advocates for breaking down some negative gender things--the role of women in the math and sciences, obsession with the phallus, etc. Glad to see another major comic criticizing him for it, sad to see that the comic in question is the psuedoprofound "A Softer World."

  8. Of course this comic fails. It's A Softer World. What do you expect? You might as well look for deep insights into the human condition in Mega Tokyo.

  9. 'being in love with the idea of a girl instead of the girl'