Wednesday, October 14, 2009
To be completely honest with you guys, I was pretty nervous about doing an entire guest week. Everyone seemed pretty excited about it, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to live up to the hype. In my mind, the worst thing that could possibly happen was that Randall would put out a week of mediocre strips-- not hit it out of the park excellent, but not blatantly terrible, either. Well, it looks like I don't have to worry about that today, because this strip is freaking RIPE with mockery potential.
The only positive thing about this comic is the fact that the pre-coital discussion we're witnessing is happening in the dark (though a 631 redux would have made my job that much easier.) Don't get me wrong, I like sex and pornography and naked people as much as the next sex-deprived nerd, and I'm sure the #xkcd-sucks regulars will attest to the fact that I have a pretty... erm, diverse image collection. But, seeing stick figures getting it on does mildly creep me out. Much like stumbling upon Care Bears Rule 34 hentai makes the average person squirm as they giggle, it's the combining of something typically innocent with something plainly adult that raises my hackles. There's also the fact that the guy stick in these strips tend to be interpreted as Randall's avatar, and I'd like to think only the most desperate of "gerds" want to see him getting frisky.
But I digress. If we had a bingo card full of xkcd archetypes, I think someone would be winning money today. You could ink off the following: sexkcd, unrealistic dialogue, reference for the sake of it, misunderstanding->HIJINKS ENSUE... if only Randall had managed to work in a reference to Numa Numa or something, we'd have the webcomic equivalent of a straight flush.
While rehashing popular themes does tend to make a strip predictable, it doesn't necessarily guarantee it to be terrible. However, in instances like today's strip, I'm compelled to believe Randall has some sort of Wheel of Fortune style spinner in his living room that he's been using to select random geeky things to base a comic on, then spends the rest of his time building the strip's events around it. Even viewing this as a typical "wild and crazy hijinks" style comic, the premise is still totally absurd. He wore a wrist strap to bed and a condom to install RAM? Essentially all Randall's done is swap each scenario's prophylactics. There's nothing clever about that, and aside from middle school "hehe, they're having SEX!" titillation, there's nothing funny about it, either. Setting up your protagonist to act like a moron for the sake of working anti-static bracelets into a strip does not comedy make.
If Randall really had his heart set on addressing the ESD strap as some sort of invincibility bracelet, there are a dozen better ways to do it than four black panels and stilted dialogue. Show someone wearing it while failing at a bunch of different things; for example, flubbing his presentation at a work meeting, smashing his face on the ground while skateboarding, getting slapped while talking to a girl at a bar, and so on. Or, if he were really hell-bent on incorporating sex somehow, he could have worked in a pun about how both wristbands and condoms mitigate the consequences of sudden, unwanted discharges, as one forum member quipped. Instead, the only thing this strip serves as is a vehicle for readers to pat themselves on the back for having used, or at least knowing about, anti-static bracelets. Don't believe me? Swap them out with anything else that boy-stick could have mistaken for "protection"-- shin guards, saran wrap, insect repellent, whatever. Doesn't the whole strip seem preposterous, and frankly, sort of pathetic? Well, as Mr. Munroe himself would say, Q.E.D., bitches.
*Thanks to Carl for the awesome title suggestion!
[late update from Carl: Guys, Kevin just e-mailed me this bash.org quote - with more than 1300 upvotes - that's totally the exact same thing do with it what you will.]