Sunday, January 29, 2012

Comics 1008-1009: One Of These Is Self-TItled

[Comic title: Suckville; alt text: Suckville is considered by the Census Bureau to be part of the Detroit metropolitan statistical area, despite not being located anywhere near Detroit.]

This comic opens with some banter that I've basically heard before, and then carries on in that Randally tradition of "LOL WHAT IF WE TOOK IT LITERALLY" for boring results. Honestly the joke in this one didn't bother me much, but there are two glaring flaws.

First: making fun of Detroit is like making fun of creepy white knight webcomic artists. It's obvious, predictable, and boring, and real comedians steer well clear.

Second: what the fuck is going on in panel 3? Why is she turning into some eldritch monstrosity? Apparently it's meant to be "motion blur" where she turns over or some shit but... what the fuck? It was sufficiently bad that one of the forumites made this. So good.

Finally, let's visit one of the echochamber's resident aspies to see how they feel: "I still don't get it, mainly because I don't get how this is possibly taunting in any way. Telling someone that they live in a ghost town doesn't sound so much taunting as plain old bizarre. A distraction, maybe? Rather than a taunt? Similar to 'I need a pee/beer/new hat'."


[Comic title: Sigh; alt text: "If you're annoying enough, you can get them to respond with an involuntary second sigh and get a rhythm going."]

This comic right here is why this blog exists. It's not enough for Randall to be plastered all over the internet, no. He has to subsume reality, and encourage his legion of cuddlefish to turn everything into an XKCD reference. And mark my words: there are even now cuddlefish out there who are now saying "girllookatthatbody" every time they hear someone sigh. Randall is actively trying to replace reality with an awful, XKCD-inspired hyperreality.

This is probably one of the more egregious examples, because he is encouraging them to simultaneously reference both XKCD and LMFAO. It's hyperreality at its worst: ultimately the objective is to make it so that people can no longer sigh, or hear a sigh, without thinking of this manufactured pop culture. This is what Randall does for all of his references. This is what his fans willingly do. They are trying to turn the world we live in into nothing more than a series of references to other things.

He's carefully crafted a following which eats up references. He makes a comic which relies heavily on reference-based humor, and creates punchlines which are easily used as references in certain situations. References are the lifeblood of XKCD, and given the nearly religious quality XKCD takes on in nerd circles, making something as common as sighing into a reference must be a goddamn spiritual experience for them.

This sort of thing happens all the time. Something pop culture happens and you can never do a thing again without people thinking you are making a reference to that thing, or, alternatively, making the reference for you if you don't. Previously, though, these acts have been avoidable--nobody will force you to drink White Russians, and you can work words you once used that are now catchphrases for popular television shows out of your vocabulary. But you still had to change yourself in some way in order to avoid the hideous creeping hyperreality.

Now Randy is trying to make it happen for something that is almost involuntary for most people. Maybe you could avoid ever sighing, but it's the sort of thing that happens without thinking. And you never know when an XKCD fanboy will be waiting to strike. A red mist will descend on you, and when you emerge, you're covered in cuddlefish blood and hear yourself screaming 'WHERE ARE YOUR NERD REFERENCES NOW?' at their lifeless corpse.

No jury will convict you. Maybe this isn't so bad after all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Comic 1007: Unsustainable Humor


[Comic title: Sustainable; alt text: "Though 100 years is longer than a lot of our resources."]

Oh boy, another graph comic! This one's got it all: Randy has done the same joke before, the graph implies that the average sentence is 100 words long (15-25 is more common), and Randy is covering all his bases to make sure he doesn't accidentally make any of his fanboys angry--not only does he complain about the word "sustainable" being overused (using a graph that does not reflect the actual source in google ngrams), he throws in a token comment in the alt text about how we'll run out of a lot of resources in 100 years' time anyway to appease the sustainability fans out there. I bet Randy was pretty pleased with himself for that one.

The forums seem to think the point of the graph is that it was badly made. I think Randy just hoped he could get away with cherry-picking data and presentation to make his point. It must be nice having fanboys who interpret everything you do as something incredibly brilliant.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Comics 1004-1006: Worse Than SOPA

Here are two shitty one-sentence reviews and one actual review for you!

1004. I think this is Randy's way of saying he thinks he's finally outgrown superhero comics.

1005. This is not a comic.

1006. Every time I call Randy on bullshit like this some cuddlefish is all like "so, the strawmanner has become the strawmanned," even though I do not make "strawman arguments" (I just hurl "unnecessarily hostile invective" at Randy). But this is probably one of the best examples of his strawman smugness yet. See how he has created a fictional character to say something annoying, just so he can say something smug about him. And see how his smugness also isn't actually very accurate: an unlikeable character doesn't make a movie any less believable (cf. Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?). And the dialog offered isn't exceptionally unbelievable (by XKCD standards, anyway), either. Annoying, sure. But unbelievable?

I always like to pretend that these comics are the result of some serious staircase wit on Randy's part--he was subjected to someone who said something that vaguely resembles what his strawmen say in the comics, and much later he thought of something witty to say. Of course, by the time he actually thought up a response, the original comment has been run through his brain so many times it's nothing more than a hideous caricature of what it once was--not something an actual human would say, but something that, in Randy's mind, the Other might utter.

Of course, the point here isn't to be accurate, but to be an AMAZING ZING at the strawman. "Ha ha, you are unlikeable!" Which, of course he is--he's a Randall Munroe character.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Comics 1001-1003: Back In Black

Some shitty one-sentence reviews for you!

1001. Dear sweet Christ, Randy should never draw perspective.

1002. Has Randy compiled a list of facts to set up a handful of stupid and not-remotely-worth-it joke, or has he simply appended a handful of stupid jokes to the end of a list of completely uninteresting facts?

1003. Incest is funny!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

So much news

So, the big anniversary came and went, and all Randall gave us for comic 1000 was a shockingly self-congratulatory image that was pretty much entirely devoid of humor.

In contrast, I'd like to show you Dinosaur Comics #1000 (I know Dinosaur Comics is too often my go-to reference, but in this case I can't think of many other comics that even bother to number their instalments, so I'm somewhat limited here). It's a perfect contrast - it works perfectly fine on its own as a comic, but if you happen to realize that it's #1000, then you also realize that "kicking a kangaroo 1000 times" becomes a metaphor for "posting a comic with the same 6 panels 1000 times." This is particularly obvious if you read the alt-text. Comic 2000 similarly marks this new milestone (upping the kangaroo kicks to 2000 as well) in much the same way. I look forward to the next instalment at 3000. Whereas with the next big xkcd milestone, what can we expect now? Just a giant "2000" written out? At that point, why not just draw a picture of a neon sign and write "LOOK HOW GREAT I AM" ?

Now I suppose we could all be in for a surprise and there will be a suitable milestone marker at 1024, as this comic suggests. I guess I'll deal with that in a few weeks when we get there, but it seems like it would be a case of having his cake and eating it too - getting to 1024 is only marginally more impressive that getting to 1000, which he's already celebrated here, as it were.

In other, better news, there could be no greater christmas present than the news that Michael Firman will be updating Moe every weekday this year! This is fantastic. I've long been a fan of Moe and it was most difficult to trudge through the long months that went by with no updates. As he says, if he's going to succeed in this, he will also try to sell some stuff, so I strongly encourage you to go and buy that stuff when it comes out. No - I encourage you to read the comic. Then you will convince yourself to buy his stuff.

Truly, this is an exciting time for comics.

ps - i have like 1000 unread e-mails in my e-mail box! ha ha, I am almost certainly never going to read them, unless they are printed out for me and I am incarcerated.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Thousand

I see that at some point tonight xkcd will hit the big one oh oh oh and publish its thousandth comic (really the 999th, since he cleverly skipped #404, because, you know, it was not found).

This seems an auspicious time and one where I, the only good thing that has happened to this site, should comment on it. But I can't think of anything to say besides "hey guys come look at THAT" so perhaps I'll just have to wait until the comic itself comes out.

Meanwhile, this is exactly the 700th post on this blog. Weird, huh?

Happy birthday-ish thing,