Monday, October 20, 2008

It's the Smile That Really Gets to Me (*Shudder*)

As I have implied before,* Marvin is not a comic I particularly like. In fact, I rather wish that its entire run could somehow be erased from existence, perhaps with the assistance of a convenient time-travelling Terminator. Its protagonist's very existence makes me want to gouge out my own liver.

However, every once in a while, this lazy, idiotic strip from hell goes so beautifully medieval that I can almost grow to love it.** Today's comic is a case in point. Not only does it involve a joke about feces, it acts as a concise illustration of the seamy underbelly of the feudal system.

Imagine that Marvin is a lord and his father a commoner under his protection. Marvin's contention that he is a "generous guy" corresponds to the lord's role as protector of the peasant in return for the peasant's service (here the father's changing of the diaper). However, just as the lord's "generosity" may exist in theory only and involve copious amounts of abuse, the child's "generosity" encompasses only his bodily waste. The relationship is lopsided; the lord "gives" something the commoner does not want, whereas the commoner must undertake unpleasant and possibly dangerous tasks for the sake of the lord. Though the ideal of the feudal system may have merit, its reality is flawed and leaves the peasant holding the equivalent of a full and reeking diaper.

The callous smirk on Marvin's face is telling; he knows that his father has no choice but to bow to his every whim. Yet Marvin's status as an infant also bears meaning, as it suggests that the lord is helpless without his servants. The cartoonist is commenting subtly on this working but ultimately unworkable system and perhaps even pushing for change.

It is just too bad that his comic has appeared several hundred years too late. Then again, what else is new?***

* I have stated outright in righteous rage.
**I may be exaggerating just a smidgen.
***Not much. Not with Marvin. Never with Marvin. Helas ond weilaway.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Marvin is one of three cartoons which try to be funny and fail miserably.* Of the three, only Marvin uses scatological "humor."

There is one scatological joke that is funny. Unfortunately, I've never heard or read it.

* Cathy and Momma are the other two.