Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Comic 524: Wuzzle Wazzle

Oh how far we've come, from passing a meme along to pretending to be over it. There are a few humor eggs nestled together here, let's pick apart the yolks for starters:

-Mr. Hat hired Rick Astley to do some mischief! Not a bad start, even if it leans on an aging meme.
-Astley's going against the grain and not performing his most popular song. What, then?
-The girl can't stand a mute Astley and goes nuts waiting for him to sing. Mental torture ensues.
-Astley gloats for a moment and pulls a CSI: Miami by flipping sunglasses on during a one-liner.

This comic had appeal for me until that fourth panel. Mr. Hat's in action, Rick Astley is going to do something original...but the victim goes nuts all on her own. You could mute her computer speakers during a Rickroll and get the same reaction. The comic plays on people's obsession with memes, then spins around and endorses them by pretending Rick can beat the system.

Rick appears cool with his girl-maddening powers, but he should be more sad than anything. If the public has such a strong love/hate reaction to his claim to fame, then Mr. Hat must have paid him out of pity, because Astley has no choice but to embrace his Internet-fueled popularity. Why? Because of meme-passers like xkcd that repeat forum-born jokes until only the final person who hears of them is spared the vomit-inducing repetition of "Have you heard of ________ yet?" That's how Astley wound up performing the song during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and he was paid to sing -- he must roll both ways, then.

There's also the loose end of why Mr. Hat wants to drive a seemingly innocuous girl insane, anyway. It's not evil, clever, or in the name of piracy; it's just an anti-Rickroll.

Rickrolling was fun for its time, and like any punchline, can be forgiven in spare doses. But Randall, GET OUT OF ASTLEY'S HEAD. David Caruso thanks you.

Note about the alt text: Those are some lame-ass guesses for the next big trend. Even Urkel did better ("I've fallen, and I can't get up!"), and in my ultrabiased opinion, we folks have, too. While I don't expect anything born here to find a new home, calling Anonymous posters Cuddlefish and shouting down blind worship with "GET OUT OF MY HEAD" are both small, anti-internet-mob gestures (assuming we don't kill the new phrases, too). Randall asks us to place our bets, but only he knows what the Internet will hail next! Tell us, Randall! Deliver to us from on high the catchphrases of your drunk programmer friends, and they shall show us a funnier, more easily repeatable future!

*EDIT* What the hell is this?! We were first, forums!!


  1. But bollocks, remember that the twatting alt-text is the only buggered punchline in this whole sodding piffle of a comic universe! Sod arse the bastards, there'll be some barney if you keep ignoring the alt text before you can say bob's your uncle!

  2. Dilemma 1: Every forum contains the worst examples of the most popular viewpoint therein. Hence, people are wrong on the internet. Discuss.

    ...That aside. Possibly it helps that I am drunk, and possibly it help that I've read interviews with Rick Astley that suggest he is remarkably well-adjusted (if somewhat confused) about the whole phenomenon, but I found this amusing.

    Third unrleated point: Astley is apparently willing to accept payment for performances in the post-Rickroll climate, but he seems to approach it in the same way as you or I would accept unexpected payment for karaoke singing: a windfall, but still completely irrelevant to the gist of one's life.

  3. I got paid fifty dollars to do karaoke once. Everyone was really disappointed when I ended up actually having talent.

  4. Rob you're hating on others and talking about how you got paid to be you but you're not singing AND THAT DRIVES ME INSANE AAAHHHHHH

  5. This one was actually okay, heh. Or maybe it's 'cos I'd set my expectations exceedingly low after the last few "comics".

  6. Yeah, Cuddlefish, I agree. This one was not amazing, but I think I grinned. I may have even chuckled.

  7. Heyyyy the Cuddlefishes are catching on! I'm so proud of you. Momma Cuddlefish is happy.

    Anyway I think I would have liked this comic sans the lame Miami Vice thing.

    Rob I enjoyed your first comment a lot.

    RAWR Blogger PLEASE keep me signed in this is a pain in my piffling arse!

  8. sorry i forgot to turn on the follow-up comments thing

  9. "Anyway I think I would have liked this comic sans..."

    Amanda, nobody should like comic sans

  10. I... I liked it. I am a bad xkcdsucks commentator.

  11. I liked this one too... momma, make the scary feeling go away!

  12. This is the most positive reaction /ever./ What is wrong with the world :(

  13. I hate it when randall references 4chan or stupid memes gone mainstream!!!


  14. speaking of memes.

    THIS is non mainstream and absolutely awesome in everyway.


    from the digg comments.

  15. The first rule of 4chan is, you do not talk about 4chan.

    The second rule of 4chan is, you DO NOT talk about 4chan

    from Fight Club.

  16. maurik: hahahaha! that pic is great. joel mchale would be proud of you.

    amanda/ch00f: i read "comic sans" as well.

    this comic is just annoying. the rest of the world is tired of rickrolling, and then randall sets that back by including it here. it's somewhat clever, i suppose, but i still don't like it.

  17. I guess I'm gonna jump on the anti-hate bandwagon too. This comic was fine. Nothing more to say, really.

  18. Rick Rolling: Yes, it's old hat by now, but not as old as AYBABTU. I still laugh when I get RR'd.

    Previous comics have set the bar too low for XKCD. In its heyday, this would've been one of the worse ones, but now it's one of the better.

  19. * I love that Rick Astley song.
    * That tinypic comic maurik linked is better than the original because that "YEAAAAAHAHHH!" completes the punchline. Did anyone see the Weeble & Bob take on this Caruso gag?
    * ch00f: nice comic sans joke.
    * I'm not a /b/-tard. /b/-tards can shave my balls off if they want. "Rule 1 and 2" are not "Do not talk about 4chan" they're "Do not talk about /b/". Also, rule 1 and 2 are only in operation during raids. There is also an article about the Rules of the Internet.

  20. Internet memes are an xkcd thing. This comic used the reference in a fairly original way and... it was FUNNY!

    This comic is the opposite of everything this site complains about so let's face it, he got one.


  21. lol ch00f and greg. I'll remember to never follow the word "comic" with "sans." =)

    Ah, rules of the Internet. The only ones I know are 34 and that one that means I don't exist cuz I'm a girl.

    HEY HEY YOU GUYS MY CAPTCHA IS "UNRICK" haha stop the rickrollingggggg

    okay that wasn't as funny as I'd first thought

  22. I stand corrected, then -- Rickrolling is alive and well! May it conquer 2009, too, if enough people aren't tired of it.

  23. i did kind of like the joke that rick astley rick rolls people by not singing. better than recent comics, but not great.

  24. You know, I've read a bunch of the posts breaking down xkcd strips, and while you often have legitimate points for why one may suck, I think you're stretching here. You're hating on it just to hate on it. You've broken away from the actual point of this whole blog--which is to illustrate reasons why xkcd now sucks (in your opinion) in a hope to shame Randall into making it better or getting rid of it--and moved toward making fun of any way you can, for any reason you can. You want Randall to be honest with himself and acknowledge that he's no longer funny, but you're not even being honest with YOURSELF anymore!

    And yes, I know the original author of the blog did not write this particular post, but he is perfectly happy with the job being done in his absence, so I imagine he must endorse it.

    I'm not trying to be dick, and I'm not just blindly loving xkcd. I have to admit that yes, it has indeed been way less funny than it first was. I'm just trying to point out to you that you are dangerously close to hypocrisy, to put it generously.

  25. Patrick, so long as I 1) avoid blindly hating xkcd and 2) have fun doing so, I'm following the MO of this blog pretty well.

    This wasn't a horrible comic for me. Rickrolling's past its prime IMO, but I still see the humor in it, and it's a darn sight better than charts. Points to Randall for flipping a convention instead of merely mentioning it.

    Are there any more kind words you'd like to hear from an "xkcdsucks" blog, or may I continue riding the steely edge of hypocrisy?

  26. Man, hypocrisy is the stuff that makes the internet run. Go fuck yourself, Paddy.

  27. PS to everyone else HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  28. "Man, hypocrisy is the stuff that makes the internet run. Go fuck yourself, Paddy"

    God forbid I try to get some honest-to-goodness discussion going on here, right? Yeah, fuck me. I love the irony of your post as well. You guys spend quite a lot of time (rightfully) making fun of a lot of the people on the xkcd forums for blindly loving Randall's comic and being stupid about it, and then when someone comes into to point out YOUR digressions you jump and attack without a single moment of objectivity.

    Let's examine this for a second. The author of this post even admits that he can see the humor in the comic. He may not have laughed, but he can see why it's funny, and thus why others would see it's funny. The reason this blog exists is to point out that xkcd is no longer funny, or at least not as much as it used to be! If a particular strip is funny, just say so and move on, there's no need to start making up reasons not to like the strip!

    He says that it's dumb because you could get the same effect on the girl by muting her speakers, but come on, that's not true. You'd still have Rick Astley on the screen, dancing to the muted music and his mouth moving to the words, so you know he's actually singing. Having the actual living, breathing Rick Astley in front of you would be completely different. And in the case of this girl, maddeningly so.

    Then he goes on to completely misrepresent the alt-text, intentionally or no. Randall never says that he thinks the memes he suggested are the best or the ones that should or will be the next "big thing." He just through out some suggestions. The poster makes it out like he's trying to tell us what the good ones are, or at least should be, and that's just completely misrepresenting what he said.

    Again, I'm only posting to point that if you're going to write this blog to illustrate Randall's change in comics, you should at least try to stick to YOUR initial purpose as well. If this is just going to be an "xkcd hate blog" and not an "xkcd needs improvement but still sometimes doesn't suck blog," then admit to it. There's nothing wrong with that, we all are, after all, allowed our opinions.

    And as afterward, I have read many of your posts, and I do agree that you are often right in your assessments, but it's times like these that I think you're going astray.

  29. Dude, you are welcome to defend xkcd, but you need to unclench. I guarantee you Rob was not being serious.

  30. jay: Yeah I don't think it's possible to be serious when you have used the word 'internet' in a post. BUT I can't sleep so here is a longer reply!

    Patrick: You're just not making a new insight here. Every one of us here is fully aware of the fact that sometimes Randall writes comics that don't suck. We frequently disagree and argue about comics. But here's the thing: we are snarky and derive pleasure from sarcasm and mockery.

    This blog has always, first and foremost, been about entertaining those of us who come here. Neither Carl, myself, nor Thomas are comic gods, but we write our posts with the intention of keeping people engaged. Sometimes there is really just nothing to say, but nobody wants to read a blog entry which consists primarily of the text "this one was okay, I guess." That is boring.

    Randall knows about this blog; he may even read it. But let's be fair, this is not intended for him. This is intended for our beloved commenters, who can do no wrong (not to be confused with the not-beloved commenters, the scent of whose comments are pleasing only to Satan, who is the devil). And for all of those silent readers.

    I'm glad you frequently agree with us, but remember we are not writing persuasive essays here, nor essays attempting to look at the issue from all sides. Lest we forget, look at the tagline for this website: "[a] vitriolic and bitter collection of unwarranted nastiness about a silly and harmless comic." Carl wears it with pride.

    Ultimately we are faced with a choice. Do we want to write something that will entertain, or do we want to write something boring and lackluster?

    And let's remember, a blog keeps its traffic by having posts which are consistent, and posts which are good. People come here to read us complain about XKCD. We want to give them their bread and circuses!

    I guess what I am saying is, sure, you can feel free to say Thomas has missed the mark on this one. Let's not get calling people hypocritical and such, all right? I mean, we are not pretending to be anything but what we are: people who apparently enjoy making fun of XKCD.

    Especially not on the new year! You are supposed to be friendly etc. on the new year. That is what it is for. SAY YOU'RE SORRY.

  31. "The author of this post even admits that he can see the humor in the comic[...]If a particular strip is funny, just say so and move on, there's no need to start making up reasons not to like the strip!"

    Here's the predicament: I didn't laugh at the comic, but several people on this site did. Should I represent my viewpoint that nitpicks and finds fault, or the majority viewpoint that's ok with the strip? I can see the humor in every xkcd strip; that doesn't mean that my dislikes are made up.

    "He says that it's dumb because..." If there's a fly in the ointment, I expressed it in "but the victim goes nuts all on her own." If you think muting her speakers isn't equivalent, that's well and good, but my problem is with how the prank plays out. And as I've already expressed, I'm tired of Rick Astley jokes, so there's a subjective element.

    And despite our disagreement, Patrick, thank you for taking the time to call me out like this. I enjoy this blog, probably more than I should, so I'd rather have dissenting viewpoints keep me on my toes than "LOL so true!" Well, a balance between the two would be great.

    Happy New Year!

  32. to be fair, they did kind of say it was a meme. if you leave your mouse over the comic for a second, it says it. but who's going to do that?
    i laughed. i thought it was funny. whatever.

  33. it would all have been a bit better if we all didn't know that this is how Rick Astley rolls.

    Guys: He is not a cartoon character. If you refer to a real person, and you make him do uncharacteristic things, it will just lead to confusion.

    Also: Rickrolling was so 2008. Guess Randall just wanted one last reminder that he's heard of it.
    Also: If you don't have eyes, you don't need sunglasses.
    Also: HEY RANDALL, I like the subtle way you mentioned that you know about certain memes that aren't popular yet! YOU ARE SO COOL because you know about these things before anyone else how do you do it.

  34. Carl: I get the feeling Randall does not take into consideration how the actual people act. I mean, look at his treatment of Ron Paul, or Greenspan, or Bernanke. They aren't even caricatures of themselves. They are just completely new characters.

  35. Carl:
    "Rickrolling Rick Astley through his TV monitor" strip. That's an old one. Randall doesn't need this reminder.
    Also, two rickrolling jokes from two different angles. Is that good or bad? Should I call that recycling or innovation? I lean towards the second option because they're still two different angles.
    Also: Artistic license give you the power to write all sort of weird things incompatible with reality. Even if these weirdnesses stretch your suspension of doubt. Sometimes you just have to keep your doubt real quiet if you want to enjoy stuff.
    Also: It's his eyeless universe, give him a break. You don't go over to the Simpson family and say "Hey, guys, you've only got eight fingers and no chin!"
    Also: Uhm.. Somehow I am too interested in the answer to that alt text question. This strip was the ending for a year of internet running gags, as you can see in this year's content of xkcd. Randall likes to use these gags in a slightly different way than you are familiar with, which make you think "Ha ha, this is not how they do it on /b/, clever." only problem is that you don't think this way because using an already established running gag and slightly modifying it isn't good enough comedy for you (am I right here? is that how you think? am I misinterpreting you?). I understand and respect that but sometimes I do not agree.
    Anyway, what I was about to say is:
    Because his strips have such a high internet running gags/other jokes ratio this year,
    and he is so much interested them,
    and this was an end of year 2008 strip,
    then he thought of an amusing question for 2009 about these gags that might interest his readers and amuse them.
    That is all. Just this. No ego stuff.
    That is my opinion.

    I do like this one, but it would have been so much funnier with The Who's YEEEAAAAAHH! at the end of the strip. I just can't let it go. It'll turn comedy silver into gold... I think...
    Guys! Why won't he just use the tinypic image instead of his original one? Maybe because I didn't ask yet?

    Oh god... god... that was a long one.

  36. Maybe Rick is sensitive to his eyeless condition, Carl.

    In the land of the blind, the sunglasses man is secure!

  37. Cow - Don't forget the rickrolling in 396, a reference in the meme-filled 485 and for those who like subtle references, the background music of (i am happy to say that I only remembered one of these off the top of my head - thanks, ohnorobot, searching all 1400 xkcd comics!)

    Like his Sarah Palin jokes earlier, it is just a very tired idea by now. A cool rickroll - with church bells at someone's wedding, for example - might still be fun, but just talking about it makes me think "oh boy, let's stick it on the pile of twelve thousand other Rick Astley jokes."

    What I really should have added after my comment about the eyes is that it does make sense in their eyeless universe, but that times like this (and this) where it freaks me out.

    Nothing wrong with wondering which memes will get popular, but it felt to me like he was just trying to show off which not-yet-popular things he knows about.

    Thomas - Maybe this whole time "never gonna give you up" referred to his vision?

  38. I have always wondered how you knew which xkcd number was which. NOW I KNOW YOUR NOT-SO-SECRET SECRET CARL

  39. Randall accidentally my head.

  40. I like how after all those panels and then slowly putting on his shades, the punchline, when it finally comes, is so anticlimactically lame. i enjoyed that.