Friday, January 16, 2009

I Am Weeping at the Lost Opportunity

It is quite clear to me that the hacks who produce Shoe are medieval at heart. When they're not mocking the French via allegorical cannibalism, they're discussing other medieval-flavoured subjects...such, today, as the seven deadly sins. The mind-twisting image of birds eating meatloaf barely even registers, so prevalent is the completely unexpected conversation on the Deadlies.* However, the conversation is only "unexpected" if one doesn't take into account the fact that these cartoonists are utterly unacquainted with the twenty-first century and everything in it.

If they had been even slightly familiar with, oh, the last hundred years or so of cultural history, they would not have screwed up their own joke so unforgivably. Sure, it's hilarious** to take the seven deadly sins, which loomed large in the lives of medieval people but don't really come up in casual conversation all that much today, and change one of them to something that insults one of your friends...but for optimum zing, you have to pick 1) the right sin and 2) the right substitute. Shoe has chosen to excise pride from the list, and he has replaced it with Roz's meatloaf. As pride and meatloaf are generally unrelated--unless, of course, Roz is proud of her cooking--the substitution is only minimally effective. It's true that "pride" is probably the best choice here. "Gluttony" wouldn't work, as Roz's meatloaf apparently causes the opposite of gluttony, and the others wouldn't really fit at all.*** could Shoe not have excised "lust" and replaced it with "your mom"? For crying out loud, Shoe! It's a stupid joke, but it's less stupid than the tired old "your-meatloaf-sucks-because-you-are-a-woman-who-can't-cook-hyuck-hyuck-aren't-I-the-manly-man" angle. If you're going to tell an idiotic joke, make it a "your mom" joke, for pity's sake. "Your mom" jokes never fail to cause juvenile laughter. Don't you want to cause juvenile laughter? Isn't that, in fact, what newspaper comics are there for?

I am disgusted with you, Shoe hacks. You can't even screw up your own ancient joke effectively.

*Why the hell are Roz and Shoe talking about the seven deadly sins? I mean, I know that realistically, the subject has come up because the cartoonists want to make a cheap, stupid joke, but still: are we supposed to believe that a jaded waitress and a cynical newspaper editor are sitting around chewing the fat when one of them suddenly challenges the other to list all seven sins? I think about these things, cartoonists. You are hurting my brain.
**In newspaper-comic terms, that is.
***I'm guessing, however, that Roz is just on the verge of experiencing quite a lot of wrath.


Michael said...

I suspect that replacing lust with your mom would cause suggestions of incest among the more prurient readers* and editors. Some of the readers would write letters to the newspapers decrying an assault on the innocence of little children. The editors would complain to the syndicate about the licentiousness of the cartoon.

I suspect the Shoe hacks, being men and/or women of the world, wise in the ways of debauched readers and lecherous editors, were wise to ignore the temptation of "your mom" jokes in this case.

*That it didn't with you indicates your chaste nature.

Jessica said...

So, the final panel would say, ". . . ond yowre mater"?

Angry Kem said...

Jessica: Exactly.

Michael: I'm all about suggestions of incest. I just don't care.

jackd said...

Wait, the [or an] ME spelling of 'sloth' is 'sleuth'? I can't puzzle out a connection to the modern 'sleuth'. Is it just coincidence?

Angry Kem said...

Jackd: "Sloth" and "sleuth" are fun, fun words in that they have different etymologies and have, over the centuries, more or less switched forms. Check it out:

"Sloth" comes from ME "slowe" or "slou" (i.e., "slow"); it can appear as "sleuth" (and variants) or "slouth" (and variants). The O.E. word it comes from is "slæwð."

"Sleuth" comes from O.N. "sloð" (i.e., "trail"). The M.E. version of the word is--wait for it--"sloth" (though the flip-flop is made slightly less cool because the word in M.E. actually just means "trail"). In the nineteenth century, as the etymology dictionary I link above will tell you, the word "sleuthhound" (in M.E., "slothdogge" or "slothhound") was applied to human detectives and then shortened.