Thursday, June 25, 2009

Comic 601: You Lose

so dumb!

deep breath. let's try to stay calm as long as we can.

First off, yes, this comic is a reference to the movie WarGames, except replacing horrible nuclear destruction with love. And for those of you thinking, "huh. I never think about the 1983 drama thriller film WarGames starring Matthew Broderick...so why do I feel like I was just thinking about it recently?" The answer is that you probably read Dinosaur Comics! Which had a WarGames centered comic 6 days ago. Now I'll admit that the joke is different - T-Rex uses the WarGames strategy to make a non-evil e-mail checking AI bot, and xkcd, well, you see the shit xkcd did with it. But still! Randy, listen: If you see a comic and go "ho hey, WarGames, that was a nerd movie I recall! I should make a comic off it and no one will be the wiser" we all read dinosaur comics too! Well some of us. So we see clearly where you are getting this from! And it comes off making you look like a hack (more so than usual), a crappy comedian (more so than usual) and a total d-bag (more so than usual). And remember - this comes only days after he did the same thing with SMBC.

Oh what's that you say? This comic sucks a large quantity of balls totally seperate from the fact that Qwantz got there first? Oh my goodness yes you are right. How could I forget.

This is not just Troubled Romance. It is, but it's not just that. In the context of recent comics - I can't attract humans so I will try to make fucking robots be ok, my childhood habits led me to have terrible relationships with women, I am stalking a girl named Megan as she goes to the sex stores, and of course, boo hoo relationships are hard and complicated and I can't have all the casual sex I want - this just comes across as a cry for help.

Really, Randall? Now you think love is a lie and a false promise of joy that none can ever attain? To be fair, I lack what you humans call emotion so I have no particular opinion on this idea. But - I do know that Randall has also been known to draw comics like this one, or this one, or this, or this, or this, this, or this, and that's just the first 150 or so. Only a few short years ago it was all "gahhh, I am in LOVE, it is glorious! The sun shines rays of joy on myself and my significant other, it is always a perfect day, and nothing can stop this wondrous love we share" and now it's all emo shit like "you will never find love. it is a lie. i will not stand for anyone to be happy."

Randall: assuming this isn't all just to fuck with me or your other readers, assuming this isn't an attempt to make xkcd about more than the comic, but use the comic to tell a fictional tale about the person drawing it - ideas I have strongly considered, especially after this new comics - assuming you are just writing your thoughts out in comics - good lord man. That is what love is. It can be great and make you happy, it can end up sucking and making you feel like crap. Did you not know that? it's pretty well known. How are you only learning about this now? And more importantly, why are you letting it interfere with your comic? Unless you are just trying to get sympathy from any other people who recently broke up, it just comes across as...whiny? emo? petty? stupid? all of those.

Seriously how can you have your AI character -given your love of computers- declare that love is a losing game for all involved. Do you seriously believe this? have you never met a happy couple? Or thought one could concievable exist? god dammit it I hate you.

hey did you see that I stopped saying nice things about each comic? I really did try, but it was too hard.

132 comments:

  1. Maybe instead of stealing, Randall just went to Ryan North's house and they watched WarGames together and then a couple days later they each made comics about it.

    It seems like the sort of thing that could be done entirely innocently, as opposed to that fucking Penny Arcade Yahoo Maps ripoff.

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  2. 602 -- It took me a while to get what was going on. Having finished it... Well, first off, it's obviously not trying to be funny. It's the (rather sad) story of a maths type guy who goes to a party, probably at his friends' behest, and finds himself so bored that he diverts himself with thoughts of mathematics. Ironically, his friends think that he was doing the very opposite--distracting himself from mathematics by spending time with his friends.

    It's very sad, and it does ring a bit true, in the sense that I've been at social gatherings that I didn't particularly want to attend, and I've tried to just think about... stuff. Whatever stuff.

    I also like the mathematics dream state. It's actually something sort of recognizable--he's thinking about primes, and the fact that the sum of one over x (x prime) diverges, and graphical representations, and it's actually a neat little thought exercise. Understated, too.

    Really, my main problem (other than I resent it whenever Randall does something that's a.) Intentionally not funny and b.) Depressing) is that the first four panels and the alt text just seem really petty and vindictive. As we know from 588, Randall has kind of a mean-spirited outlook with respect to socially competent people. So seeing it again just makes me think "Randy, I know sometimes you're a fuckup, but deal with it. Don't blame the people who are capable of spending their time somewhere other than at their computer."

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  3. "She designs textbook covers, right?" might have been funny if Randall knew how to put together a joke. At least he threw it away in this entirely mediocre comic rather than managing to fuck it up too badly.

    actually the only reason that this is mediocre and not shitty is because this is totally what I do

    (who am I kidding I don't get invited to parties)

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  4. Also, I really expected the first four panels to be a lead-in to some sort of threeway or public sex thing, so when it DIDN'T go that way I was pleasantly surprised.

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  5. I like how even though the 2nd and 2rd panels are exactly the same, he still drew a new panel and got everything completely different. His artwork is so bad now he can't even makes stick figures good. Come to think of it, the third panel is completely useless!

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  6. Really, the first four panels are identical--they just serve to establish that everyone is vapid and boring. Ad nauseam.

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  7. Carl, are you really expecting a coherent philosophical message from webcomics? Because it's really not a form that encourages grand statements about the human condition. It's really not a problem if Randall occasionally contradicts himself, or reality, for the sake of humor. Sadly, that latter element is missing from xkcd lately, but I don't think it's because Randall has an inaccurate or inconsistent perspective on love.

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  8. The charitable interpretation would be that he has a CHANGING perspective on love, but that really supports the "Just went through a nasty breakup" theory.

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  9. *3rd. Man, I am good at this typing stuff.

    Also, I just read 602. It's sad that Randall finds math more entertaining than human relations. It's like Dr. Manhattan, except without the cool God-like powers and/or motivation.

    The only complaint I have for you, Carl, is that you take a long time to post your rants. But quality over quantity is always preferred. A lesson Randall never learned.

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  10. Realist, I would be rather wary of saying such big and blanket-like statements. As they say, blanket statements make everyone stumble around looking like ghosts from a Charlie Brown special. Or something.

    In any case, the first example that came to mind would be the now-sadly defunct alessonislearned.com, which does some very interesting things with the medium.

    Webcomics are not really a genre, they're just another way to express your ideas. People have used them to be funny, to be preachy, to carry on a storyline, and often they are trying to impart some kind of meaning all the while. I wouldn't attribute Randall's inability to form a meaningful message to the whole webcomic genre.

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  11. I wouldn't attribute Randall's inability to form a meaningful message to the whole webcomic genre.

    You got it right the first time--webcomics AREN'T a genre. They're a medium.

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  12. I liked 602. Except I think judgmentally has no 'e' in the middle. And I don't think that Randall finds math more entertaining than human relations...just that the party is boring. Lots of people, including me and Sir Malethoth above, have apparently felt the same way. Not all the time, of course, but sometimes.

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  13. Of course, the thing is, when I've felt that way, I've generally ended up blaming myself for being a loser, not the people around me for being vapid.

    So the "I've been there" feeling that generated some sympathy from me was rapidly replaced with "Wait, crap, I'm remembering being a dysfunctional dicksaw. Great."

    Maybe the guy isn't supposed to be sympathetic, but if that were so he probably shouldn't have gone out of his way to portray the other partygoers as terrible people.

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  14. 602 teaches us that at the sort of parties Randall attends, people stand in single-file lines.

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  15. if this thread turns into an "i'm awkward at parties" thread, then we may as well just turn into the xkcd forums.

    ps, 602 is weaksauce.

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  16. I can relate to 602 but that doesn't make it a good comic.

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  17. We have also learned that at the parties attended by Randall, these single-file-standing participants speak in a manner consistent with an angry high-school student's perception of more popular (and thus necessairily more trivial, empty-headed, vacant and vapid) people's discourse. When I was in HS the most socially awkward of our circle wrote a short story that was a blatent emo retelling of one member's ultimately successful pursuit of another's affections. Feeling left out, the author wrote much very similar (though thankfully unillustrated) dialog as an example of why the less dysfunctional were so intellectually tiresome. It was bullshit then, and it is bullshit now. Moreover, it is boring, eye-roll-inducing and tedious. Randall is like an unsuccesful high-school suitor, and must glorify his own life and intellect to convince himself that his failures are due to everyone else's deficiencies, rather than his own. How fascinating to experience someone's (childishly transparant) justification of their flaws.

    I apologize for spelling errors. This little comment window doesn't allow me to copy, and doesn't allow Firefox to do its usual spell-checking, and I am too lazy to do it the old-fashioned way.

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  18. You guys are seriously reaching with 601.
    Yeah, Randall has ripped off other webcomics before, but referencing the same movie as another webcomic is not plagiarism. ffs.

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  19. Maybe not plagiarism, but "Randall posts comics shortly after other cartoonists do them better" is a legitimate criticism, if only because it highlights what a hack he is. In the "isn't funny" sense, not in the "steals jokes" sense.

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  20. In all fairness to Randy, I think "love hurts" and "love rules" are two pretty common themes in art in general. I wouldn't criticize a band because they came out with yet another morose love song.

    I do think that Randall always talks about love/relationships like either a precocious four year old (wacky sex! ball pits!) or a 16 year old after his first breakup (emotions are agony. why bother. life is meaningless.), and that's really where the problem lies. He's free to express both ends of the spectrum, it's just that he's terrible at it. He has no emotional depth in his comics, despite that many are clearly supposed to be deeply evocative. That is to say, if he was artist/writer, instead of a dork with a pencil, he wouldn't have such a profoundly shitty comic.

    Of course the argument then is that this one is funny! Wargames! But it's a crappy joke wrapped in an obscure reference topped off with hearty helping of GET OUT OF MY HEAD. Which means it is destined for the xkcd hall of fame on digg.

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  21. Anon @ 9:38, I don't disagree in the least that it is possible to create a webcomic which forms a persistent message across its lifetime. That is is possible, however, doesn't imply that one should expect or desire it for all webcomics. I don't think that was ever what xkcd was about even when it was good.

    Carl's point that I object to isn't that no message is ever conducted in xkcd, but that the messages do not form a coherent whole; they contradict each other. I do think that the webcomic medium exhibits less coherency than one might find in a novel because of the serial nature of webcomic publishing. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

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  22. Also re:602, is this the same Randy who dress in goth at frat parties and fratty at goth parties?

    RANDY WHERE IS THE ZANINESS

    I do like how he no longer pretends he's zany anymore, and just comes right out with it that he's an antisocial prick.

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  23. Also I think the real point of 602 is not that socializing is boring, it's that conversations that don't revolve around Randy are boring.

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  24. I like 602; then again, I also liked the "making a universe-computer out of stones on a beach" comic which had a similar concept, while a lot of people here seemed to hate it, so maybe I'm weird.

    Also panel 5 looks like he's emerging from a giant vagina haha

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  25. Ahahahaa. First, "fratty." Now, "giant vagina."

    guys together we are all far more zany than Randall can ever hope to be.

    p.s. Asher I love you

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  26. 602: At first I thought "ugh, throwing another bone to the bitter and socially incompetent forumites" but after a second glance, I kinda liked it. It communicates a common human experience in a very expressive, and at least somewhat creative way.

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  27. 601 marks the comic where I finally stopped reading xkcd. The fact that I made it so far is a testament to my masochism, but I finally realized that I've seen every one of his comics before, sometimes in the hands of a more talented writer or artist like Ryan North or the Penny Arcade guys, but usually in his own archive, where he did the same joke years earlier, but funnier. And as 601 used one of my most hated tropes, I figured it was as good a time as any to finally say, "Fuck it, and fuck you, Randall." RSS: deleted.

    (The trope in question, for the curious, is that situation where an author doesn't bother justifying his message, but instead sticks an 'authority' character into the work to spout the message, which is then assumed to be true by virtue of the fact that the Mary Sue said it. In this case, the AI in the comic is more or less the perfect Marty Stu for Randall, and its declaration that love sucks is meant to be taken as absolute truth just because it's being said by a computer. Sort of a silly thing to nitpick, but that sort of Ayn Rand shit pisses me off. A lot.)

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  28. @Aisamanra

    Hooray! ONE OF US, ONE OF US

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  29. "Can't Argue With Elves"?

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ptitleukqnnj0yvqci?from=Main.CantArgueWithElves

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  30. I kinda liked 602, if for no other reason that I often do the same thing. Then again, I'm also a loser and somewhat of an egotist, so couldn't give a damn about other peoples relationships and would much rather think about maths. I don't think me liking one comic makes up for the last set of comics though.

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  31. Oh just a note on Randall apparently ripping off every other person ever about everything.

    OH GOD NOES APPLEGEEKS RIPPED OFF GEIST PANIK, THOSE SLEEZY BASTARDS.

    http://www.hookiedookiepanic.com/geist/pics/59.jpg
    http://www.applegeeks.com/lite/strips/aglite476.jpg

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  32. Stop posting about Geist Panik.

    Anyway, am I the only one who read the dialogue in panel 10 as "You zoned out sorry; I must or something. Be... tired."?

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  33. 602: randy's entire social life is falling apart, into DRAMA

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  34. I like posting about Geist Panik though.

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  35. saw this in the xkcdcbb forums and got a giggle, even though it's pretty predictable
    http://i39.tinypic.com/4gspwy.png

    props to videomax

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  36. "I wouldn't criticize a band because they came out with yet another morose love song."

    Really? Because I would. I would call them stagnating, talentless hacks who need more development in their style and thematic content if they want to be taken seriously as band. Hell, even the fucking [i]Beach Boys[/i] had a strong impact on the music industry as a whole precisely because they refused to do this, and were constantly trying new, innovative things with their sound.

    There is a caveat: bands whose non-development is intentional for satrical/entertainment purposes. DragonForce, for example, was never meant to be a serious artistic endeavour, and I don't think they expect anyone to believe they are doing anything other than taking power metal to it's (almost illogical) extreme.

    However, emo bands who constantly cry about cutting themselves because their girlfriend left them generally are trying to be serious and either a) have the emotional maturity of a high schooler (which means they need to grow up and I will criticize them for that) or b) are trying to profit off emotional high schoolers (which means they are d-bag sellouts, and I will criticize them for that).

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  37. Wow; this comments area looks like "OMG RANDY IS AN ANTISOCIAL PRICK BECAUSE HE LOVES MATHEMATICS AND THAT IS A MOTHERFUCKING SIN!"

    It's like you hate nerds or something. Can you please at least stop trying to pretend to be nerds? Honestly, the illusion failed a couple hundred comics back when you first created this blog.

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  38. Nah, I don't care about the math. It's just, you know, he's complaining about how his friends are all judgemental dicks.

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  39. Well, if that's how they normally behave...

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  40. ...then it still doesn't merit a comic.

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  41. That wasn't really my point, anyway, that's just the point you brought up. Besides, I don't think Randy is complaining about how judgmental they are in particular; it's more about how bored he is at a party, and how others think he's tired from doing math all day, when it's actually the opposite.

    Society has some kind of inherent assumption stuffed up its rear end that everyone loves the social scene, and nothing could be further from the truth.

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  42. No, the entire premise here is that his friends are annoying and stressful, not that he doesn't enjoy social situations. Check the alt text and, you know, what they are talking about. It's about drama, and how he longs for a simpler world.

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  43. I don't like this comic because the message that it gets across is, wow, your friends are asses Randall. You are the better person.

    Wouldn't it be possible to create boring conversation without entirely demonizing the group of friends as mean spirited pricks? That might require competent dialogue.

    As it is it's no more than classic get out of my head material.

    It's rare I don't like an xkcd for the perceived attitude behind it, but this one definitely rubs me the wrong way.

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  44. What if he did put some real non-assholic dialogue in there? Then you guys would just be attacking him for being an antisocial prick (which is what many of you are doing anyway).

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  45. If Randall was able to write several frames of believable party dialogue for several characters I would give him a pass on the rest of the comic no matter how crappy it was.

    Though you'll note several people here have confessed to liking this comic to some extent. Primarily for get out of my head reasons, but the point remains.

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  46. And then there's the people who hate it for being... exactly what it is supposed to be.

    If you don't like the get out of my head comics, then why the hell are you reading xkcd?

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  47. Michael Jackson RocksJune 26, 2009 at 7:08 AM

    I just heard the news... I'm absolutely devastated. I do not want to tell you this, but I must. You must know. Everyone must know.

    Here is a poem that sums up my feelings better than I ever could:
    "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
    For nothing now can ever come to any good."

    CARL WHEELER ????-2009

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  48. Michael Jackson RocksJune 26, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    Also Michael Jackson's dead. I think.

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  49. I don't like this one because it's basically saying "I have friends but I'd rather not socialise with them because I prefer to be alone and I'm better company than them".

    If you prefer to be alone, then fine, but don't insult people who actually have social skills.

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  50. "If you don't like the get out of my head comics, then why the hell are you reading xkcd?"

    This sounds like another "YOU'RE NOT PART OF THE TARGET AUDIENCE" swipe.

    I don't know about other people who comment on this blog, but as a 24 year old computer engineer, I imagine that I'm about as close to the target audience as is possible.

    Relatability is a good foundation for a strip, but when that's the only thing a strip has going for it, I don't think that's a good thing. I mean, what IS the deal with airline food?

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  51. Anons and fanboys: can we stop this tired argument "If you don't like the get out of my head comics, then why the hell are you reading xkcd?"

    we read it for the same reason democrats watch bill o'reilly, or republicans watch bill maher. we enjoy hating it, and want to find out how stupid its getting every monday wednesday and friday.

    if i hate a stupid comic (like basicinstructions, no offense i just hate it) then yea i'll fucking ignore it and move on with my life.

    but xkcd has rubbed me (and i'm assuming all of us) in such the wrong way and is so shoved in our faced on digg/reddit/etc that i just love to hate it and make fun of it and talk to other people who hate and want it to go away.

    also, why are you guys here? you know what this is when you come to fucking a xkcdsucks blog. just like i know what sexkcd's forum is gonna be like.

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  52. There was something annoying about 602 that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but John at 6:09 pointed it out. It's how he's portraying all his friends as dicks while he, noble and understanding as he is, chooses not to engage in this plebeian gossip or superficial social scene.

    It's like that fucking mathematicians are better than everyone else comic from way back when.

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  53. Point out one math joke from the past you actually LIKED, and I might be convinced that there's a tiny chance that you might, possibly be in the target audience of 602.

    Otherwise, you can hardly complain for not liking a joke that wasn't intended for you in the first place.

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  54. The problem I have with the GOOMH comics isn't that he's making slice-of-life jokes, it's that there's rarely a clever twist. Jerry Seinfeld, for example, takes little everyday things and then applies his unique lens, so we look at them in a different way and makes jokes about them. Randy just throws them out there, and either makes a terrible joke or falls back on the "it's not supposed to be funny" crutch, in which case it's just a boring statement of fact.

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  55. @Anon:
    It doesn't matter whose in the target audience or not if the jokes aren't funny either way. It's not that we don't get why anyone would ever like math, it's that we think it's a shitty comic.

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  56. Can you explain why the response at the end of this video is funny?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogXibFU88L0

    After all, it's just a boring statement of the fact that was repeated over and over again in the comments of the original video.

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  57. What I don't understand is, why do you HAVE to be in the "target audience" in order to be able to complain about a joke not being good?

    How do you even quantify a target audience? Your "target audience" is just people who like xkcd. By that logic anyone who doesn't like xkcd can't comment on how bad one of the cartoons is.

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  58. "Point out one math joke from the past you actually LIKED, and I might be convinced that you might, possibly be in the target audience of 602."

    Ridiculous.

    Seriously, that's absurd, for one primary reason: this isn't a math joke.

    Seriously, this joke doesn't actually rely on mathematics even slightly. You're mistaking the window dressing for the content. The fantasy sequence could just as easily be a dissolve into language as the viewpoint character distracts himself with thoughts of poetry, or a fantasy of being a Superhero flying over the city, or anything else that comes down to 'solitary, introverted activity being used to block out social situation.' Which, last I saw, is a universal condition.

    The problem with this joke is it typifies social gatherings as monumental catty bitchfests, which to me suggests that the viewpoint character needs better friends rather than some universal condition. The alt-text doesn't underscore the point, it renders Randy in the position of appearing anti-social and condescending, and worse condescending in an overcompensating and somewhat pathetic way. "I stay away from parties and social situations because... because mathmatics is pure and good and non-judgmental and all those parties do is give petty and vindictive people a chance to indulge in gossip and mean-spirited sniping. Really. It can't possibly be that I'm not good at relating to people -- they're the ones who don't relate. Plus I have math, and math's way better than fitting in!"

    It's a lie. It's a cop-out. The honest self-examiner will just say "I don't enjoy parties -- I don't really connect to people in group settings," instead of trying to cast those who *do* connect to people in group settings as inferior.

    It's one of the sadly recurrant themes in Munroe's work -- a desire to take his own biases, choices and tendencies and elevate them to a level of importance and superiority that makes them at once elitest and pathetic. Mathematics is vastly above all sciences and humanities, because Munroe is a mathematician. Extroversion is cheap and petty and introversion is serene and beautiful because Munroe is an introvert.

    It's a natural reaction. It's a human reaction. Sometimes -- although not here -- it can be a funny reaction. But the idea that somehow we aren't the target audience for 602 because we hates ourselves the math jokes is just silly.

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  59. Man, you guys are easily insulted by your imaginary fabrications of Munroe.

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  60. @Mike G

    You, sir, are correct. I wouldn't be so soured on xkcd, and thus found this blog and started hating it more, if not for Digg. xkcd is getting Dugg up majorly for even the worst strips for sake of it being xkcd. As an avid reader of Digg, I see it constantly.

    My feelings on say CAD, an obviously worse strip, are more neutral, because I never read it, no one links it to me, I don't see it posted IN REAL LIFE, etc. Out of sight, out of mind.

    @Anon 8.23:

    If you mean me, here's one I like. http://xkcd.com/292 Rooted in familiarity, with a nice little twist. xkcd is not like this anymore. That's the problem.

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  61. It's interesting that the goto raptor actually has eyes and facial features and fiddly little details. I wonder what picture he traced it from. (I already checked and it isn't utahraptor from Qwantz.)

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  62. I said a math joke, not a computer science joke.

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  63. Can I take "xkcd that aren't about maths" please, John?

    (Seriously, chrissakes. Computer Science, two words. Maths, one word.)

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  64. How exactly is 602 a math joke really? See Anonymous 8.46. There's math IN IT, sure, but it's in no way a math joke.

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  65. @Anon 8:32

    Yeah, they're the same, because they're both NOT FUNNY. That's something I'd give a mild chuckle at if someone came up with on the spot. It's a bad joke at best.

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  66. Also that's a retarded analogy because one is making a very specific joke about another video, and Randy just makes general statements about life. Dear lord you are stupid.

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  67. It's like you hate nerds or something. Can you please at least stop trying to pretend to be nerds? Honestly, the illusion failed a couple hundred comics back when you first created this blog."

    "Point out one math joke from the past you actually LIKED, and I might be convinced that there's a tiny chance that you might, possibly be in the target audience of 602."


    This xkcd-worshiping mental midget who thinks that you're not a real nerd if you don't worship xkcd, needs to die in a fire.

    His mentality is emblematic of the "hey guise I'm so unique because I label myself as an aspie nerd, have a 150 IQ according the internets, read Wikipedia and Ayn Rand and am asexual because I have EVOLVED beyond the need for carnal desires. You just hate me because you envy my awesome intellectual prowess."-mindset of pretentious wannabes, who read xkcd to feel superior to people with an iota of a social life.

    xkcd used to be great. Now it's nothing but sex, nerd-culture references sans jokes, and whiny emo shit only emotionally weak basement-dwellers enjoy: "Boohoo why are people so complicated, my enormous aspie brain cannot comprehend this."

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  68. I agree that some of the latest comics have been horribly disappointing. Especially on such a big landmark as 600. I'm kind of hoping that's actually leading somewhere, so Randall will at least have an excuse for putting us through that torture.

    However, 602 is, in my opinion, a good observational comic. What I don't understand is the part where you people read a superiority complex into it (or my own comments on it, for that matter). If Randall had decided to rewrite the joke without the gossip about other people not at the party that put the partiers in such a bad light, you guys would have just attacked the introverted nature of the strip. But that's exactly what it's about. There's no winning with you guys.

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  69. Oh, and Wilhelm, I didn't specify that it had to be an xkcd strip. So it has nothing to do with xkcd worshipping. Any math joke from any strip that you liked will do.

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  70. "But that's exactly what it's about. "

    Well no shit. It's just a BAD IDEA for a strip.

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  71. What I'm trying to get is someone who is actually in the target audience to explain to me exactly what is wrong with the strip.

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  72. Maybe some people actually like that kind of strip? Maybe that's exactly what xkcd is known for, not that search history strip that Carl liked best.

    Maybe you're hating on xkcd for being exactly what it's known for being?

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  73. I don't see why the target audience has anything to do with this. I have been in social situations where I didn't like the conversation and zoned out with my own thoughts. This joke isn't math-specific, as Wilhelm said. So I think I am very much the target audience for this strip - it's a GOOMH moment. But I still don't think it's good. Would I think it was better if I my thoughts at those times were about math?

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  74. And I do think many of us hate on xkcd for being xkcd, at least if you define xkcd as a bunch of GOOMH strips.

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  75. ^ with no joke, I should clarify.

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  76. Well, at least you're honest. It took way too much prodding, though.

    I'm out of here.

    ps. For a split second there, I thought this commenting textarea was fixed. But no, it's still a piece of shit. Is it in Carl's power to fix this?

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  77. @Anon 9:33 - It's not funny.

    Guy goes to party, is bored. Loads o' laughs, amirite?

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  78. @Adam: oh, shut up. "Hey, I know - I'll point out that this joke is totally unfunny by rewriting it to make it sound stupid!"

    Here's the Simpsons: "yellow guys get into scrapes, somehow get out of them again. HA HA HA." Candide! "Bad stuff happens to guy even though tutor says it shouldn't. HA HA HA." Much Ado About Nothing! "Two people in love are too headstrong to admit there in love, and then these two other people in love get tricked into falling out of love, but then everything turns out fine. HA HA HA."

    This is fun.

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  79. I didn't even like this comic! And yet here you are, getting shouted at by me over the Internet. How did it come to this?

    WHY, ADAM, WHY?

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  80. awkward nerd randy from 588 shows up at a party.

    seriously, if the target audience is people who are socially awkward and then try to "stick it to 'em" with a webcomic then the target audience is the worst audience ever.

    I think I truly hate Randall Munroe. He has become the embodiment for all the nerdy people that I hate. He can't handle breaking up with his girlfriend so he concludes that love is useless and he would rather play chess. I agree with Carl, has Randall never ever seen a happy couple?

    @wilhelm: It's not that he can not understand 'normal' people it is that he beleives that they are below him, and how Randall and his disciples are the embodiment of how everything should be. All others are vindictive assholes, love is a lie, you can't be excited for your high school sports team since it is just a geographical coinidence and, OF COURSE, sex should be free and open.

    It is not his fault everyone else seems to have a fine time finding love, having fun at a party, and seem to have sex within the normal rules. It is THEIR fault! They are inferior!

    @fluffy: I love you for posting that bad gods comic.

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  81. anon @ whatever time he posted.

    I don't know why i have to like math jokes to be able to criticize a comic that has very little to do with math but I will play your stupid little game.

    I liked http://xkcd.com/55/ it is about math and how love is complicated. The person saying the caption has fallen in love but is having trouble evaluating it. he is having a difficult time finding the right expression to best define his love.

    But you know what the 'narrator' is NOT doing in that comic? Dismissing love as useless and a pure being would be better served just playing chess.

    The narrator of 55 is also NOT saying that he is better than everyone he knows because he instead daydreams about prime numbers.

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  82. What I'm trying to get is someone who is actually in the target audience to explain to me exactly what is wrong with the strip.

    That second year computer science major should be comfortably within the target audience. Hell, I'm a second year math major, and one of my first reactions to this comic was "Hey, this seems kind of authentic." If I'm not in the target audience, then it's a meaningless term that is defined solely by "People who like xkcd."

    The point is that even if it does feel authentic, it feels like an authentic description of an arrogant, socially incompetent guy trying to spite all his acquaintances through fiction.

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  83. I'm still confused as to what that Anon thinks is the target audience for 602 and thus is the only qualified group to say what is potentially wrong with it. Extreme introverts? Though he seemed to start with the idea that it was only for mathy folks.

    This "target audience" garbage keeps coming up in these comments lately. As if I can't say Twilight is garbage because I'm not a teenage girl.

    Also, this text box has been bothering me for ages. Why can't I paste in it most of the time?

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  84. Anyway, I was GONNA try to find an xkcd comic about math, but after skimming through around a hundred (1-70ish and 200-230ish) and not finding any, I'm forced to wonder if maybe it's not mathematics that's funny after all, but mathematicians.

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  85. I think having thought it over a bit, this is a pretty "realistic" comic, and it's not that bad unless you go to the trouble of deconstructing it.

    so, in conclusion, we'll love to hate it because it's so awkward and depressing what it says about Randy if you go beneath the surface, and the fora'll love it because it's such a universal GOOMH. conclusion: everybody wins!

    (well, except Randy, unless he can make a shirt from it I guess)

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  86. At least Anon is content with xkcd. You've gotta admit, he apparently accepts xkcd for what it is.

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  87. @harrison
    Not just shirts; xkcd is his entire living.

    Another hack has ascended to the webcomic pantheon of self-sufficiency.

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  88. @Ann Apolis:

    Your other examples have punchlines. This one doesn't. But I'll reword it for your benefit.

    Guy goes to party, is bored. Friends: "At least you're partying and not doing something boring!"

    Yes, now it's much funnier.

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  89. "If Randall had decided to rewrite the joke without the gossip about other people not at the party that put the partiers in such a bad light, you guys would have just attacked the introverted nature of the strip."

    I wouldn't have.

    If there hadn't been the gossipy/catty dialogue (and dear God the smug alt-text), I would have liked the strip.

    Seriously. Minus the need to make everyone around the math-nerd viewpoint character mean and shallow, this becomes a relatively poetic strip about loneliness in a crowd and the misapprehension of one's fellows to understand the self. Which is pretentious, maybe, but isn't *bad.* It would have been clever, and it would have been universal, and it would even have amused.

    With the bitchiness? It's just a shallow strip on how the introvert is superior to those around him, and it goes from being kind of a nice strip and nice idea into Yet Another XKCD That Sucks.

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  90. The character in 602 isn't bored. He's overstimulated. It says so clearly on the top. People (especially on the Autism spectrum) often find situations like the one in the comic extremely mentally stressing, and so they enter their own worlds as coping mechanisms. There's so much going on at once, about things that make you feel out-of-place or awkward, that it becomes difficult to focus on anything in particular and so you invent something just to anchor yourself again. I hate to play "omg get out of my head," but this comic more than any one he's written rings true to me in a way that I think is not a human universal. I want to be in social situations, but I find group settings like parties to be difficult to cope with, and so I conciously have to find a balance between participating, analyzing, and recuperating while I'm at parties.

    I agree with one criticism of the comic: Randall suggests that social gatherings are 'catty bitchfests,' when it is more accurate to say that Randall is not mentally equipped to handle social gatherings. However, I don't blame him for it. It's extraordinarily common for Aspies (and people with social anxiety) to scorn the type of social activity normal people enjoy as vindictive, sexually aimed, and petty.

    Yes, it's a slice-of-my-life comic. Yes, those are simply strange, awkward, self-indulgent wastes of time to people who do not have the same experiences. However, that type of comic has been extraordinarily popular throughout the entire indie comic movement. XKCD has always, even in whatever you might believe to be its 'golden age,' had many examples of this type of strip.

    Oh, yes: and 602 does have a punchline. The character has spent the entire day doing something he finds pleasant: mathematics. He goes to a party afterwards, and then finds the situation so impossibly stressful that he cannot deal with it head-on, and he resorts to playing with prime numbers just to refocus. Somebody notices he's zoned out, and then declares: "Obviously you're tired because of all that math you've done. It sure must be nice to be able to relax in a fun setting like this!" The opposite, of course, is true. That's about as cut-and-dried a punchline as can exist.

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  91. @PAtrick:

    You are too forgiving of Randall with regards to his portrayal of so-called normal people. Look at the alt text even.

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  92. @John:

    Not trying to defend the comic, just playing Devil's advocate, but if you don't know one or two people in your social group(s) exactly like that... it's probably you.

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  93. @PAtrick:

    Randall suggests that social gatherings are 'catty bitchfests,' when it is more accurate to say that Randall is not mentally equipped to handle social gatherings. However, I don't blame him for it. It's extraordinarily common for Aspies (and people with social anxiety) to scorn the type of social activity normal people enjoy as vindictive, sexually aimed, and petty.

    The problem is, we have to 'blame' him for it, because it's taking a universal ("sometimes we retreat into the things that make us comfortable when we are in uncomfortable situations") and makes it vindictive. We go from "wow, I've felt like that before" regardless of who we are to "people like me are better than people like [you|them]."

    It interjects ugliness, and attempts to define it as universal. It takes an idiosyncratic experience and ennobles it.

    And the bitch of all of it is it's entirely unnecessary. There's nothing this strip gains -- and tons this strip loses -- by casting the socially connected or extroverted as petty and bitchy. Replace all of the conversations with chitchat about their respective days and how stressful their jobs are, and not only does it lose the major strike against it but it redoubles the core point: for these people, social gatherings are a release from the stress of their everyday lives. For the geek in the middle, his love of math is his release and this gathering is the stressor.

    The more I read XKCD and xkcdsucks, the more I'm convinced Munroe doesn't have any problem that wouldn't be solved by an editor. Someone he has to submit his stuff to before it goes up. Someone who can say "is there a reason you're being a dick here I'm not seeing? Or is it just fun for you" and make the necessary adjustments. But then, the worst excess of the 'webcomics are free and unbound by the man' movement is the elimination of editors from the process, taking all the advantages of having a cynical tyrant who forces you to work, improve, update on time and redo strips that suck out of the whole shebang.

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  94. "The opposite, of course, is true. That's about as cut-and-dried a punchline as can exist."

    That doesn't make it funny, that makes it ironic.

    Is 602 bad? It's not vomit-inducingly bad like some of the ones we've seen in the past couple weeks, but it's mediocre at best and definitely not funny or amusing or even particularly poignant.

    The alt text, which many others have commented on, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It smacks of the "people suck" sentiment and lends credence to Carl's theory.

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  95. I do the same thing mentioned in 602, but it ashames be to admit it because of how much it makes it look like he thinks he is "superior" for thinking about prime numbers instead of socializing.

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  96. 100th comment!

    As I said, I didn't actually like the comic; it's just I don't actually like the "rephrase to make unfunny" thing that happens so often here.

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  97. 601 was so awful and irritating that I seriously considered it as THE ultimate proof that xkcd has reached a point of no return. 602, fortunately, rescued the whole thing and restores my hope. It's pretty excellent, and it drives home a solid point that's both relatable and (relatively) not pedantic (yet it's the kind of thing that drives the forumites up the walls with ego-wankery. Shame).
    Though I'm afraid that people here are saying the comic displays lack of "socialising". Socialising? I'm pretty afraid that social skills refer to being false, judgemental and nosey. I mean, what kind of people would those be?...
    ... oh, the people who get a little bit of refreshment and pleasure by being nasty and bitter at a goddamn webcomic author. I get it now. :)
    (though I do NOT zone out during parties thinking of maths, but yeah, I HATE it when people "relax" and "have fun" with other people's supposed flaws and mistakes)

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  98. "Socialising? I'm pretty afraid that social skills refer to being false, judgemental and nosey."

    Except that most people don't just talk about other people behind their backs. Granted, gossip happens, but if you use it as an excuse to dismiss socializing altogether, that reflects more on you (general you, not you in particular Fernie). And that's why 602 is so goddam condescending - it's just telling us how stupid and catty everyone but Randy is. Or at least everyone but those people who agree with Randy.

    It sounds like you enjoyed this one because it's a GOOMH moment for you - and it hits home because you don't like gossip. I'm not sure it really "drives home" any point - all it does is tell you that Randy Understands You (general you, again). And given that most media (TV and movies, really) don't tend to show sympathetic anti-social/nerd/geek characters, those type of people tend to immediately attach value to anything that does. Which is why people like xkcd.

    But it doesn't change the fact that this type of comic wouldn't fly if it were more mainstream, because then it would actually have to have some sort of added value, like a joke or some insight.

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  99. Oh god why did I feel the need to check the fora for 601? I feel sick to my stomach. Someone actually called Randall the God of the Internet, and said that any woman would be stupid not to date him. And he wasn't being sarcastic. I'm going to go puke now...

    CAPTCHA: chizese - somehow that just sounds racist

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  100. @Fernie:

    601 isn't as bad as you're saying. 602 isn't nearly as good as you're saying. You'll have to tell me what about it you found "pretty excellent."

    A social skill is any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others (Wikipedia). In other words, it's what allows people to coexist with other people. Having them does not make you less nerdy or geeky or whatever; it makes you a normal human being.

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  101. As for 602, I agree that it would have been a relatively good comic if not for the completely-unnecessary bitchiness. It's not even the other characters' dialogue that bothers me, really; it's the oh-so-superior sounding alt-text. It makes it feel as if he honestly believes that everyone at a party, except of course for him, is a douchebag. If that's actually the case, Randy, stop whining and get some new friends (God knows you have enough mouthbreathers who'd like to fill the spot). More likely, though, this is just a combination of Munroe's oversized ego and his inability to socialize like a normal person.

    even better CAPTCHA: elehop

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  102. 602 is primarily bad because it is just Randy snarking about how his friends are all gossippy gossip-heads who gossip all the time and are mean-spirited and etc.

    he draws a sharp contrast between his social scene, which is just a wall of words and arbitrary judgements, and math, which is ordered and simple and measurable. boo hoo, Randy, your friends suck. maybe if you weren't a douche you wouldn't have this problem?

    the thing is, being a geek/nerd/whatever and liking social situations aren't mutually exclusive. it is not anti-geek to make fun of people who apparently can't handle social situations. just because you make fun of the troglodytes in their parents' basement doesn't mean you're not a geek.

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  103. Has anyone ever considered that this might be a reference to a SPECIFIC kind of socializing and not interaction in general? I see nothing in the comic to imply that all social gatherings are as petty and vindictive as the one depicted--only that when faced with one like this, the character lets his mind wander.

    You seem to be taking the comic as an attack on all social activities ever, while I don't see that jump. It depicts a particularly bad situation, that's all. You assume that this must mean that the author is trying to cast all social gatherings in a negative light, but I don't see justification for this leap. I see a particularly catty conversation, which the main character chooses to ignore. There is nowhere in the comic an implication that all gatherings are like this (indeed if they were why would the mathematician keep showing up?) nor that the protagonist tunes out less vindictive exchanges the same way.

    It's a comic about people who let their minds wander rather than engage in particularly vindictive gossip. It is NOT a comic about how all socialization is evil and math is the one true light of god.

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  104. Chris, have you considered that this might be a reaction to a SPECIFIC pattern of behavior expressed by Randall and not about nerd behavior in general?

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  105. EITHER

    Randy is bitching about his friends being gossipy stressful nags that create drama

    OR

    Randy is bitching about how all social gatherings suck and are stressful and drama-filled.

    BOTH OF THESE SCENARIOS ARE SHIT.

    He isn't just talking about one scenario. This is meant to be representative of a trend. It's a contrast presented between "getting out and relaxing" (viz, socializing with his friends) and math. This contrast does not work at all if it's just a random vignette about some dude who zoned out when his friends got catty once.

    Now, whether he is trying to say that everyone is like this, or if it's just his friends, is unclear. What is clear is he is bitching about drama.

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  106. Anyway, if he IS talking about just one scenario, maybe he could've picked a scenario that didn't cast all his friends as bitchy idiots. I think everyone agrees that it would've worked just as well, EXCEPT it would highlight the "Randall is a functioning autistic" aspect instead of the "Randall's friends are terrible people" aspect.

    So, changing it to be less spiteful may make it more revelatory than he intended.

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  107. @ Chris "There is nowhere in the comic an implication that all gatherings are like this"

    uhh the alt text?

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  108. 602 is Randy defending himself. He's saying:

    When I'm stand around socially awkwardly like a fucking idiot, I'm actually being a genius thinking up maths and shit. Oh and it's not because I'm a geek (which I am), it's because I'm such a busy guy working on all those papers all day long. Oh wait. I don't do that. I just draw shitty webcomics.

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  109. I'm sick of everyone's bullshit politeness.

    602 is bad because Randall sucks at writing dialog that is both believable AND appropriate for setting up a given situation.

    602 is bad because it reinforces the negative stereotype that all people who are not "nerds" are shallow, petty socialites.

    602 is bad because it reinforces the stereotype that all people who are "nerds" do not enjoy large social gatherings.

    602 is bad because it's punchline (yes, there is one - it's just shitty) is unfunny and poorly delivered.

    602 is bad because the alt-text a preachy, sanctimonious one-liner that passes judgement on people who judge others (protip: that's called hypocracy).

    602 is bad because it is not funny, clever, amusing, original, or insightful in any way.

    602 is bad because Randall Munroe is a terrible artist, a terrible writer, and a terrible comedian.

    Any questions?

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  110. i have a question.

    how are you so reliably awesome?

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  111. poore is like unto a god

    a god of booze and anger

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  112. you know what's even worse than the "Randall in the Room" at parties?
    being at a party of ALL "Randall in the Room"s.

    I DON'T SEE RANDALL DOING A GOOMH COMIC ABOUT THAT HUH.

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  113. 601 is bad, but I disagree with your reasons. It's just an internet meme poorly done.

    602, well... I liked it. The shallow nature of the gathering is necessary as it gives us the reason the protagonist prefers his studies. The repetition conveys the protagonist is finding it tedious. You'll also note he almost apologises for the petty depiction of the socialites in the alt-text.

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  114. @Anon at 1:51

    I think you're misreading the alt-text. Most of the comments have been assuming that Randall is speaking sarcastically when he says he enjoys doing so.

    I must admit, I rather prefer your reading: in that case, he's admitting his own hypocrisy and saying "Well gee guys, I know why that sort of situation arises."

    But he's not. It's absolutely inconsistent with his pattern of stubbornly refusing to do anything approaching the social norm except to deride them and say "hey, look at my better quirkier way!"

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  115. 602 is classical randall-style observational humor. Observe something, skip the humor.

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  116. After 602, I'm sure you guys just want to bitch. xkcd has had shit like this from the beginning. What golden days of awesomeness do you remember when the comic was free of this sort of thing? Most people on here say they used to like xkcd but hate it now. So, how is this any different from 40, 46, 48, 52, 55, 59, 60, 62, 69, 77 ... The whole archive is full of these kinds of moments. There is a lot of crap these days, but there was always a lot of crap.

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  117. @Anon 9:38

    The difference between those strips and this is that, at least in 3 of the first 4 you mention (40, 48, 52), a highly positive image of human relationship is presented.

    Carl has made the point repeatedly that Munroe has begun, in the past one or two hundred strips, to take a decidedly and far more negative outlook on human relations, speculating that it has something to do with the bad termination of a romantic relationship. This doesn't trouble me as much as it does some other readers; but you have to admit that his outlook on love and relationships is growing far more depressive.

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  118. most likely what happened between randall and megan is this:

    she finally got married and therefor is permanently unattainable

    his years long unrequited crush is now completely doomed

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  119. #40 was sort of single-chuckle funny, too.

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  120. Anyway, nobody is claiming that every golden-age xkcd is good. Just because whiny observational humor cropped up alongside genuinely funny stuff doesn't mean it, too, was good.

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  121. xkcd used to be an unassuming, occasionally-funny, sporadically-updated sketchblog with random observations from an introverted but romantic point of view. Now it's a pretentious, almost-never-funny, regularly-updated Internet powerhouse that a lot of people somehow think is the alpha and omega of humor.

    THAT is what changed.

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  122. So ItsPopularNowItSucks?

    Nah, I'm messing. To quote F.F.: "This fire is out of control, it's gonna burn this city, BURN THIS CITY."

    EDIT: Damn < s > tag don't work.

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  123. It sucks because of what popularity did to it, not because it's popular. It's like how Elvis Presley was awesome until he became a drug-abusing mess due to the pressure of having a gigantic fanbase. Hell, same thing happened to Michael Jackson.

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  124. xkcd killed Michael Jackson.

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  125. "You Lose". Good day sir?

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  126. tl;dr IF YOUR WIFE DIES IN A CAR ACCIDENT YOU WIN AT LOVE!
    _________
    I consider death the ultimate loss, and in no way a win. You'll lose one way or another, it's only a matter of time.

    Even if you had the best relationship that the world has ever experienced, it's not a win when they're dead and six feet under... with their body decomposing.

    Love is like Pac Man. You can win only for so long.

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  127. i bet you could extend that metaphor in some fun ways.

    -You expect things to change but it ends up being the same basic layout every time.

    -the only practical solution is just to eat more.

    etc

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