Friday, May 15, 2009

Comic 584: "Unsatisfied" is putting it lightly

damn right

Oh my god this is disgusting. And I don't just mean because of the gross oral sex going on in row 3. Though that is certainly very problematic. I guess we should start with that.

Yeah I know xkcd is supposed to be edgy and For Mature Adults and it's dealt with lots of sexual topics before, and I know that I as a reader am a Mature Adult who has dealt with lots of sexual topics before, but this still struck me as really gross. Just because it's about sex doesn't mean it has to be that graphic and a lot of people don't want to see the characters in their webcomics doing that. Now we have, it is true, seen a little of this before: In comic 487, which I said at the time was the most graphic we had seen those stick people be. It weirded me out then and it weirds me out now. Perhaps part of the problem is that going for something so explicit doesn't really serve any function except to prove that Randall can make it so explicit. In 487 it was funny, because it led to a punchline that was all about how that level of graphic sex couldn't be sustained; here, it means nothing. That panel could be replaced by another, less disturbing one that still managed to convey the idea "HEY LOOK PEOPLE these guys are in a relationship! check it out!"

Oh what's that, there's other panels in this comic that also suck? Oh ok good to know.

I hate this comic because it's just another one of Randy's boo hoo I will never be happy, no matter what comics. There's a thousand of them (all conveniently catalogued here) and they all suck hugely. It has a terrible emo "well either path I take I will be sad until I am dead, when I will still be sad" message that completely reeks of Very Young Person At The End Of His First Relationship.

This one makes less sense than the rest of those comics though: We realize by the end that the various rows are supposed to be marking their relationship through time, ending in death, but the characters never age (and I'll begrudgingly admit that Randall did this, at least, well in comic 572). So when the graves show up it's very sudden and confusing. I am also annoyed by the fact that the comic starts with the man clearly with one of the women. That's a pretty asymmetrical situation - in other words, choosing between girl A and girl B is very different from choosing to stay with girl A vs leave her for girl B. It's presented as though both potential lives are basically the same, but really I think you'd end up with some differences: Leaving girl A for girl B colors the relationship you would have with girl B. Maybe. In any case, I think it would have been better to start with the first panel having the guy with a vaguely similar relationship to both girls. Not that it wouldn't still be a whiny immature comic. Just one that made a little more sense.

And holy lord, the alt-text. How I despise you. Whoever said that if you just add the o rly owl you will have everything that is wrong with xkcd in one comic is correct. How much more forced nerdery can you have, randall, you make me want to vomit right here.

112 comments:

  1. another one to go in the "All my relationships seem to end in despair..." category.

    I half expected all the creepoes to come out of the woodwork with 'get out of my head' on this one, like what happened with 513, but they seem to be at bay for now.

    stick figure sex is awkward and creepy everyone can admit. at least in 487 the awkwardness was the joke. now it is just a creepy, not really NSFW but really who would want to be caught reading this shit. that is not something anyone wants to see two stick figures doing. I almost prefer the chair sex if that is the only alternative.

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  2. Someone else fixed the comic for us. Alt text is awesome on that one.

    Still has stick figure sex, but what can you do.

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  3. @Adam: I really like the indignant replies to it too, like "obviously you didn't get it because you ruined the TRUE MEANING of it"

    At least in this comic, Randall had the guts to make TWO distinct female characters, even if the difference was just that one had her hair filled in black.

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  4. Oh, cool, take a look at this response to the edit Adam posted.

    "How does this add anything to the social/psychological commentary? How does this provide a look at the irony of the human condition?"

    If that doesn't turn you into a vessel of barely contained, simmering, black as pitch rage, you are probably much better adjusted than I am.

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  5. @Adam
    Thanks for the link. I'm going to have to remember the phrase "Dramasaurus Wrecks" XD

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  6. This is actually a pretty good comic because it manages to do absolutely nothing right. Most of them manage to get a point across even if it sucks... this has attained Godhood of Shittiness.

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  7. Agreed with everyone here, hahah. You guys you guys I'm officially removing my bookmark for xkcd! BE PROUD also I don't know why it's stayed for so long I am sort of ashamed?

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  8. Hey, are all the stick figures in the comic naked or just the ones having sex? Eh?

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  9. urgh. go back to cutting your wrists, randall. just like all the 15-year-old fans you made this for.

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  10. K:

    That's an odd complaint. It's extremely obvious what his point is. What's being called into question here is whether that makes it a good comic, or and acceptable one, or an uncomfortably creepy one, or worse.

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  11. @Anonymous
    There is no point to this comic, nothing conclusive, no commentary, no "uncomfortable truth", no parody, no joke, no math, no language, no sarcasm, questionable romance, it's just 2 possible life stories of somebody with no confidence in their decision making process.

    captcha: vircous... which I assume to be a vicious virus.

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  12. Hey Carl, if someone hypothetically wanted to write another guest post, would you prefer he email it to you or just go ahead and post it?

    Actually, I could see if you wanted this one for yourself.

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  13. Is it supposed to be nerdy because it's a flow chart? If so, I guess plus signs and multiplication symbols also qualify as math geekiness.

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  14. Third panel down on the right. What the FUCK is dude doing? At first I thought the back of the chair was the dude's body and he was feeling up her knee.

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  15. I have only one thing to say:

    http://imgur.com/go0o6.jpg

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  16. I made the mistake of peeking yesterday at the forum thread about this comic.

    When I regained consciousness, I came here and actually laughed. Take this to heart, me hearties: Munroe's madness would be our deaths without your humor.

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  17. Anyone remember when the sex in this comic used to be quirky? I miss those days.

    Carl, you may need to update the 'repeat offenders' list soon if this trend continues. It's not just quirky sex anymore - Randall seems to be taking decent comics (like #583) and crowbarring in the sex, any sex, graphic stuff in particular (well, 'graphic' for a stick-figure comic). It's not that sex in a comic is always bad - Numerical Sex Positions was funny, that one with the 'statistical voyeurism' punchline was good - but when it's just hatcheted in then it ruins the flow of the comic. And the graphic stuff is just unsettling, no matter what.

    I feel a new Repeat Offenders category would help us all to discuss Randall's massive sex crowbar that he gets out three times a week for the benefit of the Internet.

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  18. I'd rather not think about Randall's massive sex crowbar.

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  19. So... The comic is asking the question, "Is indecisiveness and inability to fully commit an inescapable part of life?" Many people have the ideal of a committed, forever-in-love sort of thing. Neurotic people fear that no matter what, they'll always be unable to fulfill that because they are constantly thinking about their other options. They can't commit and are always revisiting their decisions, so the IRONY is that instead of finding some sort of serious, permanent love, the romantic neurotic finds him/herself permanently thinking about someone else. Randall drew it in comic form, and a bunch of people on the Internet threw up or aggressively ignored/misunderstood. Awesome, good luck with that.

    Second, they're stick figures, and xkcd is not the comics page of the church newsletter. What do you do with your girlfriend/boyfriend? Stare wistfully at each other from opposite ends of the sofa? It's obviously a romantic relationship, and he's suggesting that no matter how long they're together or what they spend their time doing, the male can't help but think about the option he passed on. I'm honestly surprised how prudish a bunch of you are. You're that jarred by the idea of sex? I was more surprised one frame suggested that Randall actually went outside and hiked somewhere. In the context of the relationship, sex isn't jarring at all; in the context of seeing if software bugs are reproducible by screwing without a condom, yeah, it is horrifically jarring.

    Lately the commentary has degenerated into making fun of Randall, like "urgh. go back to cutting your wrists, randall. just like all the 15-year-old fans you made this for." and trying to be sooo witty with a throw-away over-the-top insult, like "This is actually a pretty good comic because it manages to do absolutely nothing right. Most of them manage to get a point across even if it sucks... this has attained Godhood of Shittiness." The blog was much funnier and interesting when Carl/Rob/Jay/whoever got a funny conversation going, rather than a steaming pile of brain-dead negativity.

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  20. "So... The comic is asking the question, "Is indecisiveness and inability to fully commit an inescapable part of life?" "
    No it's not. It's showing one guy who always wants what he doesn't have.

    "They can't commit and are always revisiting their decisions, so the IRONY is that instead of finding some sort of serious, permanent love, the romantic neurotic finds him/herself permanently thinking about someone else."

    That's not irony. That's exactly what you'd expect a neurotic to do. That's why they're neurotic. Irony is (generalized) when a situation unfolds to the reverse of how you should expect it to. Unless you're talking about Alanis-type irony.

    "It's obviously a romantic relationship, and he's suggesting that no matter how long they're together or what they spend their time doing, the male can't help but think about the option he passed on. I'm honestly surprised how prudish a bunch of you are. You're that jarred by the idea of sex?"

    No, but the comic has come to rely on sex as a crutch. Could the comic have been done without that scene? Yes. In fact, inserting something more meaningful, such as, say... GETTING MARRIED that would have carried more emotional weight. Some asshole going down on his girlfriend while thinking about some other girl isn't enlightening. And he *is* an asshole, for constantly thinking of some other girl, implying he's not that committed to the current relationship, thus stringing her along, and not letting her go find someone who thinks more of her than some random lady he knew. And there's nothing to suggest this is a *romantic* relationship. They play board games (or hike) and fuck. Instead of fucking, maybe he could have developed the relationship? But no, instead, he throws in sex, so as to get the cheap "omg stick figures fucking!" laugh. That's hardly worthy of defence.

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  21. Mike, I think we all love you here at xkcdsucks.

    If not, I certainly do.

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  22. Is "omg stick figures fucking" a laugh? I never noticed. Lol.

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  23. Great to see some *actual* in-depth criticism. I think you've got some very good points, Mike, and I can hardly disagree. Let me point out that, in fact, I *do* think the comic has an an interesting message behind it, but it just reeks of "OMG EDGY" and doesn't have that quirky twist that xkcd used to employ quite efficiently in this kind of comic. And who thinks the reaction against the "stick figure sex" is based on moral grounds, people, really... what the hell is going in your head? Those panels are just off-putting for being placed smackdab in the middle of a purportedly SERIOUS comic. What's serious about stick figure sex??

    I hope this comic doesn't set a trend, because I'm dangerously close to entering the chorus of "xkcd is going downhill". But then again, IT'S JUST A WEBCOMIC

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  24. I LOVE YOU MIKE.

    Seriously, guy in the strip is a straight up asshole. You always want what you don't have/fantasize about other women/worry you're choosing the wrong gal? Then DON'T COMMIT! No one is holding a gun to your head and making you stay with a chick while you think about fucking another.

    If you're the kind of person who is always going to obsess about your other options, then find people who will be in an open relationship, be your fuck buddy, or just opt out of being involved with anyone at all. But don't be a fucking douche and allow someone to think you're more into them than you really are.

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  25. The real problem for the male character is that, without any dialogue, he couldn't tell if he picked the girl who knows more river tam quotes. This is why he dies with regret.

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  26. Randall has occasionally taken breaks from comedy and preaching to do relationship comics. Some of them have been really good. He's experimented with art, made some really bittersweet points, and even made me think about myself. But this is not particularly well-drawn, and it makes no point. Isn't there an old quote about the grass always being greener on the other side? Yeah...this is really not original, and he did no experimenting with art other than the awkwardly-posed stick figure sex.

    The comic is dying and that's evident. The same patterns are losing meaning and humor and thought value. Randall, please pay attention to Carl. He would make a great editor.

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  27. Thanks all, and I think you're great too!

    Fernie:
    "I *do* think the comic has an an interesting message behind it"
    Well, we'll have to disagree slightly. I think it had the potential for an interesting message. If the lives had been more differentiated, probably needing the addition of more panels, but Randall's never been shy about having more panels before. I used the example of getting married, in my other comment, but maybe showing two very different, but equally fulfilling lives would have been getting more in to his message, or even one good life, and one bad one, since this is clearly one of his more "serious" comics. Since I can't even draw stick figures, I'll stick to ideas for this one: Keep the "always thinking of the other girl" bit, but in one scenario, have him doing things like playing tennis, having dinner in Paris, etc etc. Things that basically scream "indulgent rich guy." For the other, kids, soccer practice, the *kid's marriage.* Who's to say which would be the better life? But it'd clearly show that it's not a case of swapping one girl for another, but one entire life for another.

    One panel of board games vs. hiking just isn't enough to get the message across that things changed. As it is, it just raises the "can a person ever truly settle down" question. With my additions, it could be addressing things like "Is there such a thing as more than one soul mate?" "Does choice of partner affect the course of your life that radically?" or similar questions. I don't remember who came up with the notion originally, but it's true: Randall needs a co-author to run things past. It's easier to build on an idea than come up with it from scratch, so a co-author could polish the good ideas, and nix the bad ones. Randall, if you're reading this, find someone you argue with but don't hate, and bounce every comic off them!

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  28. OH HEY YOU GUYS Randy connected the bodies to the heads this time! I didn't even notice until just now. yayyyy Randy.

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  29. Why is it soooooooo surprising that Randypoo had them hiking? We all know that Randy dates many outdoorsy girls who take him on scintillating adventures and have sex with him.

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  30. @Cuddlefish
    Despite your attempts to show us how much cooler that XKCD Sucks used to be and how vastly intelligent you are (Hipsterfish?).. I actually did mean that the comic manages to do nothing right, it's just flat out shit, other than managing to be in a comic form, it actually does do nothing right even by Randall's own comic description.

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  31. "And who thinks the reaction against the 'stick figure sex' is based on moral grounds, people, really..."

    It may not be to everyone, but in my case it is. :-P (Well, that and it's completely pointless and jarring.)
    Actually, Randull's attitude towards sex is one of the main reasons I stopped reading xkcd.

    That, and the fact that it sucks.

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  32. "urgh. go back to cutting your wrists, randall. just like all the 15-year-old fans you made this for."
    Wow. That is douchey. Make fun of the suicidal, and imply that it is wrong to express sadness? What indication do you have that Randall is not being sincere about the deeper feelings he shows in the strips? That he is faking it, like so many people argue that "emos" do?
    "No, but the comic has come to rely on sex as a crutch. Could the comic have been done without that scene? Yes. In fact, inserting something more meaningful, such as, say... GETTING MARRIED that would have carried more emotional weight. Some asshole going down on his girlfriend while thinking about some other girl isn't enlightening. And he *is* an asshole, for constantly thinking of some other girl, implying he's not that committed to the current relationship, thus stringing her along, and not letting her go find someone who thinks more of her than some random lady he knew. And there's nothing to suggest this is a *romantic* relationship. They play board games (or hike) and fuck. Instead of fucking, maybe he could have developed the relationship? But no, instead, he throws in sex, so as to get the cheap "omg stick figures fucking!" laugh. That's hardly worthy of defence."
    Yes, because a scene with them getting married isn't trite at all. Using sex in this case is a lot more inventive, and actually carries more emotional weight. You may not think so, but I feel this is true. IT indicates a real relationship, what people actually do. This is an adult comic, and people who read it should handle sex. If it makes you dirty because of your ridiculous religious beliefs, then you are a fool. But it is not as if he is using sex as a cheap joke or something. He is letting the reader get the full experience of the relationship. It catches your eye more, a man giving cunnilingus, and it stays in your mind longer than a boring old wedding. It is sincere. Therefore it is good. Much wiser than having a wedding, or a baby being born, or something like that. And if you don't think that romance is displayed in this comic. . what can I say? You're an idiot? Sex can be romantic, painting can be romantic, hiking can be as well. It's all about the people participating, and I'm sure that most readers understood them to be romantic experiences.
    I don't, by the way, think that the main character is lying to his girlfriend. I perceive it as him loving two people at the same time (as humans are natually polygamous). He loves his current girlfriend, but all these moments are ruined by pining for the other girl that he can not have. But if he chose the other girl, he can not be happy all the way with just her either. He will constantly think of the other girl.
    All these are happy moments all right. His life is happy, because he is with the one he loved. But he is never content. He wants more, and that is a tragedy, made worse by the fact that she has always loved just him. It's not irony, but it just heightens the emotional impact is all. That said, it is certainly not a bad comic. It did not aim for a joke, so it did not fail through a bad joke. It is clearly a serious one. I think it manages to get across the message pretty well, and I do think that there is a message. Shakespeare it is not, but it is enough. It made no fatal flaws that made me wince. But apparently we are repressed sexophobes here. WTF are you doing on the Internet? Go to church and go burn some books. Kaithxbye

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  33. Wow, some spacing would make that almost readable.

    "Go to church and go burn some books. Kaithxbye"
    Wot?

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  34. Um just because we think it's unnecessary to throw cunnilingus into a webcomic doesn't mean we're "sexophobes."

    Also it most definitely did aim for a joke via alt text.

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  35. But the alt text is not the strip. Typically the alt text comments or make an extra joke from the strip. I can only think of a single case where it is the actual joke.

    It was also unnecessary to have that canyon, but it makes the comic slightly better. It's reasonable for a couple to have sex, and it makes the strip stand out. It is certainly not a bad thing, just a thing we don't see often because most comics and shows etc don't feature actual acts of sex. Why would it be a bad thing to include sex? It is not non-sequitor. It fits in with the rest of the comic. What other possible reason to be disturbed about the sex in it than the belief that the portrayal of sex is inherently bad? Maybe Anonymous is right. Y'all a bunch of sexophobes.

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  36. You can call me a sexophobe all you want, but considering I also read Least I Could Do and Girls With Slingshots, both of which regularly have sexual content involving *gasp* people that look like people! - I'd say that shoots down that theory.

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  37. Yeah, I'm sorry, I just can't see this one as a thoughtful and ironic view of the human condition. To tell the truth, I just don't buy the basic premise, which is, "If you are in love with two people at the same time, you will be haunted by thoughts of whichever one you didn't pick for the rest of your life." That's just absurdly hyperbolic (and yeah, don't try to tell me that hyperbole = comedy, because he's sure as hell not being ironic ABOUT the hyperbole).

    Taking the fact that you're feeling conflicted and equally drawn to two different people and extending that to lament, "And I'll feel this way and be unsatisfied UNTIL THE DAY I DIE," just comes across as whiny and immature. Maybe there are a few counterexamples to this, but I believe that most people who enter into long-term relationships with people they are legitimately in love with get so used to having made that decision that past alternatives lose their relevance.

    In short: making your tragedy of today seem more serious and credible by claiming that it's going to follow you to your death = obnoxious.

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  38. @Mike, re: LICD: Ironically, I hope?

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  39. Mal: I don't know if you'd specifically call it irony. It's more like watching old B movies. You don't do it because they're the height of the art form.

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  40. Tell me, people who thought the comic was funny... what specifically did you think was the joke? And for the love of God, don't over-analyze it. We don't need a 5 by 5 paragraph essay on some extremely deeply rooted and obscure joke that may or may not be slightly related to the comic. If you do this, I will immediately dismiss it as overcomplicated. Simple is better.
    Also, please try to spell correctly. I know it pains you to have to press those three whole extra keys on the keyboard, but if you say "plz" because it's shorter than "please", I'll say "no" because it's shorter than "yes".

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  41. Since I read Sexy Losers, does that make me a sexophobe? Can I comment on how inappropriate and unfunny the cunnilingus is?

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  42. I actually like this one better on rereading, to be honest. It's obviously not at all funny, and the message it tries to get across ("people can love more than one person!") is uninspired and has been done better elsewhere. But there's almost something good in there, honest. Emptiness, loneliness, and such other grandiouse themes. The banality of everyday life. Such stuff tragedy is made of, and, perhaps, if Randall had actually drawn something decent and been a better writer, that would have come across. As it is, however, it is crashingly dull.

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  43. "Humans are naturally polygamous"? Pffft, hahaha.

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  44. Man, could you anonymous folks please get names? I was about to write up an angry reply to the Anon who mentioned Sexy Losers, but I'm actually not at all clear what his point is, or which side he's on.

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  45. I'd really love to get a name, but then there would be evidence that I post on this blog regularly. It's bad enough that people know I read it.

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  46. So use a name other than the one you use everywhere else?

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  47. I kind of like the new one. I mean, its not really good, but it didn't upset me at all. Reminded me of the Cuttlefish one (which I DID like, even though it was so clearly based on qwantz) at some points. I didn't laugh, but i kind of smiled.

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  48. Hrrrr if I'm remembering correctly, Jared Diamond said something about people being "slightly polygamous," and drew that conclusion based on how men are slightly larger than women (with polygamous animals tending to show big size differences between the sexes). So if you buy that, 5-paragraph anon is not completely wrong? (technically though he should have said polygynous)

    Mostly what I got out of the comic was "I made a mistake and I never corrected it and obsessed about it forever instead." Which I didn't find so worthy of humor or sympathy as pity and confusion. I'm a bad person :( AND MAYBE A SEXOPHOBE?!?!?!?!

    - commenting long after it's relevant <3

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  49. This comic disturbed me greatly. I mean, graphic stick figure sex is something juvenile drawn in middle school (LMAO anyone?) and it DIDN'T make sense how he started in one relationship already. It meant that the right side of the comic sort of made sense and the one on the left just sort of gave me the image of a guy who really wanted a threesome -_-

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  50. "Yes, because a scene with them getting married isn't trite at all. Using sex in this case is a lot more inventive, and actually carries more emotional weight. You may not think so, but I feel this is true. IT indicates a real relationship, what people actually do."

    Um wut. Real people don't get married?
    Marriage is TRITE?
    Weddings are BORING?

    Yeah. Your post was... pretty much one of the worst and dumbest things I've read in a while, from your cynicism about marriage and sex (but, more importantly, your implicit assumption that every sane and rational person thinks EXACTLY the same way as you about these things, never mind that that is completely incorrect) to your throwing in a completely retarded religion slam (go to church and burn some books? wut?).

    Yeah, that was way too long to spend on a sadly disturbed individual. If you have problems with the fact that some people prefer sex to be a PRIVATE MATTER, or that some people actually have moral sensibilities that AREN'T THE SAME AS YOURS, and that some people actually find sentiment in things like marriage, it's rather ironic that you're the one accusing others of being phobic idiots...

    Also, the post right before the epic fail post was me, I woulda used a name bu I forgot. Not that anyone cares, just sayin'.

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  51. It's a shout out to your blog!

    xkcd is literally sucking!

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  52. I guess 585 is some form of "jumping the shark," although not in the way usually intended.

    i.e. FARRRRRRRT

    (also I don't normally give a crap about my captcha but this one was "unban" which I thought was kind of funny but I'm also hopped up on sleeping pills right now)

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  53. my prediction: some future xkcd will rip off this lame pun

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  54. No, Randy. No kids aspire to be scientists. No matter how many times you say it, what you are interested in is not, and never will be, cool.

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  55. Guys, we need a cyanide and happiness sucks blog. Honestly these comics are so fucking terrible now

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  56. OK, Anon two above me, you've managed to miss the point in two different ways. one, some do; two, even if they don't that doesn't affect the joke at all. Now go home and go to bed.

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  57. COVIZAPIBETEFOKYMay 18, 2009 at 5:44 AM

    I second Ann Apolis' comment.

    That was possibly the stupidest thing I've read in 10 minutes. Congratulations.

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  58. By concentrating on the stick figure sex (which, I'll give Randall, is funny once, but doesn't bear repetition) I feel the horrible, clanging emptiness of this comic is being neglected as a source of its awfulness.

    Here we have Randall Munroe — who is how old? 24? 25? — talking an audience composed mainly of 15-18 year olds about adult life. What the fuck does Randy know about adult life? And even if he knew thing one about it, how the fuck would he expect his audience to understand or relate to what he was saying?

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  59. Does anyone else get the impression Randy really wants us to know he's given a girl cunnilingus before?

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  60. I liked today's... ::counts::

    Fifteenth panel. It sort of amused me.

    The problem was the previous fourteen.

    The first four were nothing but infodump, especially since it's not HUGELY different from how scientists can actually track populations.

    Then four more panels that showed the previous four, only visually. Thanks, Randall, I was really hoping that half the comic would be exposition.

    And then we get six panels that could, loosely, be termed buildup to the joke. Oh ho, something's going wrong! The shark is floating!

    ...

    The shark is floating. Okay. Look, I know I said it was an amusing image Randall, but come on! Is that really all you're gonna do with it?

    Oh, and then there's the non sequitur about how the girl wants to become a scientist and a Batman joke in the alt text (at least I pray it's a Batman joke and not some sort of abortive reference to his velociraptor paranoia), and it's over.

    Randall, in retrospect, this comic reminds me of nothing so much as an exceptionally nerdy Shoe in terms of how much space it wastes. At least Shoe is obligated to fill up a quarter of the Sunday paper even when it only has a panel's worth of jokes, whereas you can be as long or short as you like.

    It all just goes to reinforce the impressions that Randall probably ought to set some restrictions on himself and DEFINITELY ought to hire an editor.

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  61. Why exactly are people tracking sharks in a chem lab anyways?

    Not all science is chemistry and the people tracking sharks would more likely be in a computer lab to crunch the data and THEN give it to the biologists in the chem lab.

    I'm sorry it just sort of bothers me.

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  62. Just to chime in on whether stick figure sex is gross...

    I have seen 2g1c. I have seen 1 guy, 1 jar. I read spaceghetto and the *chans daily. None of it bothers me. Consenting adults can do whatever they want to their bodies.

    The stick figure sex was still weird to me. Why? One, because stick figures are the kinds of thing little kids draw when they haven't figured out how to draw people yet. Two, that stick figure is ostensibly Randall. And I don't want to think about Randall getting his rocks off. EVER.

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  63. I think the point of the strip was more positive than you thought- regrets and endless "what if" thinking are a waste of time.

    However I agree with:

    alt-text = utter shit

    stick-figure cunnilingus = AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH my eyes!

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  64. And what's going on with the stick-sex on the right hand side? It looks like she's kneeing him in the groin or something.

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  65. 585's scientists make no sense. A microscope and a flask in a shark-tracking lab? What the eff Randall. Surely you have a better way of showing people are scientists.

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  66. Even though 585 is poorly executed as usual, I think it's proof positive that Randall is out of ideas. The concept is just bad.

    He should have closed xkcd off before it started to decline, like PBF. Not that it was ever close to as good as PBF, but we could have looked at it as a body of work that was all around decent. Instead, I can't even remember the good ones anymore, and will probably always remember it as the overrated trash that it is currently.

    (AS I TYPED THIS SOMEONE WALKED BY IN AN XKCD SHIRT. I feel sick.)

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  67. "Not all science is chemistry and the people tracking sharks would more likely be in a computer lab to crunch the data and THEN give it to the biologists in the chem lab."

    But as we all know, chemistry is just applied physics and it's still far inferior to being a mathematician.

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  68. You're joking, right?

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  69. I guess I was too subtle: http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2008/06/sorry-ive-been-late-with-these-recently.html

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  70. Cuddlefish PrimeMay 18, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    Hey guys, great news!

    I got up this morning and the first site I checked was xkcdsucks. I didn't even remember that xkcd updates on Mondays. It would never have dawned on me if someone hadn't mentioned "585" and something about sharks or something I guess. I've now got the comic open in another tab, and I haven't read it yet.

    You know what that means? That means that my love for this blog has OFFICIALLY surpassed my hatred for the comic it mocks. OFFICIALLY, GUYS

    I feel this is a real watershed moment. It's like getting to Bowser in the original Super Mario Bros., and instead of hitting him with fireballs, you just jump past him and grab the axe. I no longer feel the need to tackle xkcd directly; I skip effortlessly behind it and watch it plummet into the boiling lava pit of Carl's derision. I am FREE! :D

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  71. Thank you, Carl, for yet again you have made Monday lulzworthy. I saw the the Monday comic and popped right over to see how on earth you'd manage to disparage a flying shark, and I am rewarded by your hue and cry over the GRAPHIC sex in a STICK FIGURE COMIC. SHIELD YOUR EYES CHILDREN!

    It's days like this when I seriously question if you're serious, or just a very dedicated troll who's laughing his ass off at the comment threads. Either way, it's fucking HILARIOUS.

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  72. Randall Munroe = Virgin?

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  73. (Assuming you have a Person class already written)

    Person randall = new Person("Randall Munroe");

    if (randall.isVirgin()) {
    print "Yes.";
    } else {
    throw new FatalException("Nice try, Randall...");
    }

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  74. (That's Java-style pseudocode)

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  75. Programming joke?

    POORE = RANDY OMG

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  76. What's with the perfectly acceptable Java and then "print".

    COME ON POORE. DON'T DUMB IT DOWN FOR US.

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  77. @John:

    OKAY FINE, IS THIS BETTER JERK:

    Person randall = new Person("Randall Munroe");

    if (randall.isVirgin()) {
    System.out.println("Yes.");
    } else {
    throw new FatalException("Nice try, Randall...");
    }


    (Personally, I've always felt the whole "System.out" setup is one of the dumbest "features" in Java)

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  78. I liked 585. The last panel was unneeded, but the comic is entertaining. Yes, it could have been shortened.

    @ Malethoth: I think the average person doesn't know so much about how people gather populations data, thus panels 1-4 should be fine. Panels 4-8 help the comic flow better, so you can follow what's going on. Jumping directly to the balloon inflating would imply the balloon inflated directly after the shark was released. (Actually, that could have been even funnier. As the comic stands, some people would wonder how the balloon-shark managed to find its way back to the lab.) Panels 9-12 should be condensed into one panel, I agree. Then it would kick out panel 16.

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  79. I really have been hating xkcd lately. This was just bad. I didn't understand the alt-text but even if I did, I'm sure I would still hate it.

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  80. Panel 16 isn't a non-sequitur. Little kid sees that science = flying sharks, thinks it's cool (it's a little kid), decides they want to Do Science. Leaving the question of whether it is funny or not well aside, it's the punchline.

    Also! Much as this post must seem an apologetic, given the title ("Outreach") and the overly-expository air of the first four panels, it's possible that the two on the right aren't scientists but journalists - hence the explanation, and this would also justify the setting of a chem lab - "but how can we show Billy Bob and Betty Bob that this is a science programme?" "to the conical flask!" - a bit.

    However, that's unlikely, and if it had been intended he could have goddamn put some effort into showing it.

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  81. I think "he could have goddamn put some effort into showing it" is a valid criticism of pretty much every xkcd, and should already be implied by every post here to begin with.

    Of course, frequent reminders don't hurt.

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  82. "No, Randy. No kids aspire to be scientists. No matter how many times you say it, what you are interested in is not, and never will be, cool."

    I'm sorry if this is really old by now, but as soon as I saw this comment, I fucking raged.

    FUCK. YOU. I'm fourteen years old, and guess what? I'm going to be a theoretical physicist after I go to college! Maybe even a geologist. I've completely made up my mind (and if not that, a musician, but that's beside the point). And I know a multitude of students in my school who also want to do something in the scientific field! If you're going to post something completely fucking retarded and ignorant, at least do some background information first. Then maybe you won't post the damn comment anyways.

    In short, go kill yourself, and remove one of the stupid, ignorant science-hating assholes from society. Be an hero.

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  83. Despite the childishness of that post, fourteen isn't exactly the age bracket that buddy was surely referring to when he said "kids".

    Kids want to be things like astronauts and cowboys.

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  84. I wanted to be a scientist when I was like 5 but I was also a weird kid. Of course, the weird kids are the ones who end up as scientists, so I'm probably not that much of an outlier in that regard.

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  85. BANG BANG
    Randall's silver hammer came down upon her head
    BANG BANG
    Randall's silver hammer made sure that she was dead....

    Xkcd 31
    was a really dirty one
    Randall stands alone
    Painting lazy black and white pictures-
    Oooh, oh oh ooh...

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  86. It's "Oh, oh oh oh". As it happens, xkcd #31 wasn't actually black and white, but I suppose there's a trade-off between trueness to song and trueness to life. For example, under normal circumstances the defendant is not allowed to (SPOILER) kill the judge, whatever Rose and Valerie might think.

    I nearly went to the Abbey Road crossing the other day.

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  87. FUCK. YOU. I'm fourteen years old, and guess what? I'm going to be a theoretical physicist after I go to college! Maybe even a geologist. I've completely made up my mind (and if not that, a musician, but that's beside the point). i see what you did there

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  88. ...... you do? 'Cuz I don't...

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  89. also, I'm a pretty immature kid, not to put myself down. I'm 14, but I act about 8.

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  90. Anonymous 10:24 I totally think that you have indeed improved the comic. I find your version funny because it makes fun of a stereotype of guys (and I think people in general x.X)

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  91. you were like "i've completely made up my mind" and you gave three pretty significantly different career options

    quite shrewd

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  92. @Mal:

    Young 'ns are an indecisive lot. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Godzilla. Unfortunately, no colleges I could find offered it as a major. Banging Hot Chicks with a minor in Keeping It Real - my middle school goal - was similarly unavailable.

    That being said, I still enjoyed science and had all manner of chemistry sets from the time I was old enough to know not to drink stuff out of the test tubes. The fact that science is not "cool" (though it is still infinitely cooler than Randy) has nothing to do with kids liking it. That's some hardcore fail, Anon.

    None of this changes the fact that the comic sucked balls, though. I personally love absurd humor, but only if it's done well. The primary problem with the shark comic is that it's too long. Just have a single panel explaining that the tags will pop out and float back on helium balloons. The flying shark-balloon later assures the readers that this is an absurd world. You don't need a lengthy explanation of why the tags behave this way, or how it will be useful - just present how they work and move on. Brevity is the soul of wit, which is often true, even if it is a cliche.

    After that, things flow pretty well. Could do with less panels (especially the overhead of the shark's swimming pattern - it's such a shift i style from the other panels that it makes the comic feel disjointed), but it's an amusing enough situation that it can build to a proper ending.

    There are two ways for people within the world of the story to react to an absurd situation in order to generate humor. The first is to dismiss it out of hand (i.e. the Dad just stares after the shark for a moment and mutter "Scientists..." under his breath with maybe a shake of his head) revealing that such absurd things are commonplace, adding verisimilitude to the world and providing amusement to the reader through the utter insanity of the world he/she is presented with. The second is to react very strongly (usually with lots of yelling and probably profanity - Carl from ATHF is a good example of this - or maybe complete awestruck silence and a physical reaction such as dropping whatever item they're holding or fainting, which is used a lot in cheesy Hollywood films) as anyone outside the absurd world of the would, providing context with which the reader can relate and thus derive amusement from considering how they themselves would react in a given situation.

    The reaction Randall gives us is somewhere in between. Neither character reacts strongly, but the kid is fascinated enough that he wants to emulate the behavior. It's neither mundane or absurd, and thus the joke fails.

    TL;DR This was a worse attempt at surreal humor than the worst episode of ATHF, and for that Randall should feel very, very sad.

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  93. Graphic imagery makes you "weird out"? Uptight much?

    [Insert Rampant Humorous Speculation here]

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  94. poore you are the only person whose tl;dr posts I will read without first skipping to the tl;dr summary

    just sayin'.

    Cuddlefish Prime? Be freeeeeeeeeeee

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  95. I think we've just about drained both of these of all the ire and scorn they can generate, until Carl posts about the new strip. Meanwhile, Randall's latest blog (BLOG!) post annoys me greatly: http://blag.xkcd.com/2009/05/07/duke-nukem-forever/

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  96. The part that annoys me about that blog is that Firefly is again shoehorned into it.

    It's getting sad at this point.

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  97. What annoyed me about that post was the fact that it's meta-humor: it's primarily intended to be funny because it's about something that is already funny. The 'things that happened since the list came out' thing is by itself interesting, but the things he mentioned aren't that spectacular and most don't give a real indication of a long time having passed, which is sort of the point. Then out of the blue he comes up with another list, ripping a bunch of stuff from http://duke.a-13.net/ (no credit, of course), adding some of his own, and of course, shoehorning in Firefly.

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  98. If you're suggesting Randall's humor is drawing off of other things that are funny, then somehow removing the funny. Then yes, that is true. Just look at all the meme comics.

    Though what actually annoyed me is that the title didn't make sense until I realized he meant "meta-list" and not "metalist". For a webcomic that claims to be about language, he often isn't very clear in his communication.

    (FWIW, despite the slogan of xkcd, how often is it ever about language anymore? I can't think of a recent strip dealing with it. More like "A webcomic of trouble romance, firefly, math, and memes".)

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  99. Whuh-whuh-whut? What's the "bunch of stuff ripped from" the website with no credit?

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  100. That Duke Nukem blag post almost made me vomit. I don't know if he even tried to be funny, but the result is embarassingly boring and unfunny. I swear, I'm going to punch a baby if he mentions Firefly ever again.

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  101. Yes, he does link to that site in the very article.

    Not that his additions are particularly noteworthy or funny, but Randall deserves credit where credit's due.

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  102. Re that blag post: I pointed out a typo in the original post (it originally said "List of Things That Took More Time Than the Duke Nukem Forever Development") in the site's comments. Mysteriously, the typo was fixed and all of my comments disappeared.

    Look, Randall, everyone makes mistakes. It's okay to laugh them off. It's dumb to bury the evidence.

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  103. That's odd, as I've read blog posts in the past with blatant spam/trolling in the comments.

    I guess he only monitors comments up to a point.

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  104. Cuddlefish PrimeMay 19, 2009 at 12:04 PM

    No one noticed that Randall misspelled "premiere"? Unless Firefly is some kind of communist state that rose and fell since Duke Nukem Forever was announced.

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  105. I stand corrected, he did indeed reference the original list. He's still mixing his own stuff with stuff from the list, though, and neither are particularly funny or interesting.

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  106. The original list was a bit interesting when DNF was still "coming soon." It's sort of lost its impact now that DNF is pretty much known to never be coming at all.

    Randall's meta-humor is just stupid and pointless.

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  107. Nobody is commenting here any more, and even if they were, the topic I'm bringing up is hopelessly out of date, but still:

    "No kids aspire to be scientists."

    Not true in the slightest. When I was four, I wanted to be a chemist. At seven, I switched to some kind of engineer, possibly the kind that builds bridges and/or tunnels. At some point in there, I went through the astronomer and geneticist phases, until settling into an oscillation pattern between wanting to be a linguist (owing largely to Tolkien) and wanting to be a computer scientist.

    Oh, wait, there was a brief period in high school where I wanted to be a filmmaker. But for the most part, after I went through my doctor phase when I was four, I wanted to be a goddamn scientist. I even wore a lab coat to my kindergarten class, and Bill Nye and Beakman were my heroes as long as I could remember. So don't tell me kids don't want to become scientists.

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  108. Malethoth K! I think I remember that guy from the badwebcomics blog!

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