I was reading a newspaper article on a page that happened to be adjacent to the comics page.
Normally I don’t read the comics, but something caught my eye and I took a closer look.
It was this:
I was sorry I’d looked.
This – thing – is an example of ageism, and sexism, and stereotyping.
Let’s unpack it.
Ageism: The man is portrayed as elderly – balding, thick glasses, his expression bewildered. His appearance suggests that because he’s elderly, he’s therefore also feeble. He’s dressed in a tuxedo, suggesting he’s wealthy, and they’re drinking champagne, which also suggests his wealth.
Sexism: The woman is much younger, slender, and large-breasted, with long, curling hair. She’s wearing a showy necklace, and a headband the likes of which I’ve never seen on anyone except Wonder Woman. Her statement suggests that she is a rapacious gold digger, willing to commit short-term, while hoping for the man’s speedy demise so she can inherit his wealth.
Stereotyping: Elderly people are feeble, and women are rapacious gold diggers, preying on wealthy, elderly, feeble men.
Who is the creator of this travesty?
His name is Vic Lee, and the above image is his Pardon My Planet, a daily single panel cartoon syndicated in many newspapers and available online. Various websites describe Pardon My Planet as:
“…a feature in which Lee showcases his ironic view of the world and the eccentricities of the human race.”
“Pardon My Planet is a visual record of the nincompoopities of the human spirit. This imaginatively sly panel peeks under the veil of the taboo and paints smiley face on the shroud…gives us a rubbernecker’s eye-view into the boarded-up attic of the human psyche.”
“…this laugh-out-loud strip that deftly balances the tightrope of political correctness.”
As to the last, I wasn’t laughing out loud.
Instead, I was picturing a kid looking at this:
And the kid coming away with the impression that the world is full of greedy women who prey on old (feeble) guys for their money.
So to counterpoint the stereotyping, I’ll offer a dose of reality:
I don’t know why I – unwisely – let my eyes stray further on the comics page, where I encountered this:
And what do we have here?
“Fat dude”: Body shaming. Also known as “weightism.”
“In the saber-toothed muumuu”: Suggesting a “dude” wearing a muumuu is somehow…wrong?
And that a wheel vehicle with an awning is also somehow…wrong?
And that only a “fat dude” in a “saber-toothed muumuu” would have an awning on his vehicle?
Stereotyping. Marginalizing. Confirming “otherness” as a bad thing.
The names above the B.C. image identify the creators as “Mastroianni and Hart,” and according to this website:
Mastroianni is the grandson of John Hart, creator of B.C., which made its newspaper debut in 1958. Apparently another Mastroianni grandson is involved as well.
Like Pardon My Planet, B.C. is syndicated in many newspapers and available online.
Also available are B.C. books and videos…
T-shirts and posters…
And – unfortunately – images, including this one:
Once again, I was picturing a kid looking at this.
Body shaming: Good.
Being different: Bad.
And once again, I’ll offer an alternative:
Pardon My Planet and B.C. and other comic strips like them aren’t just in the…
They’re seven days a week, in print (including comic books) and online:
And they’re one of many – however unintended by their creators – ways that harmful ideas are perpetuated. Send these messages often enough, and they become ingrained:
“All elderly people are feeble.”
“All women are gold diggers.”
“All overweight people are disgusting.”
“All people who are different are wrong.”
For adults, it reinforces their negative thinking.
And for kids…it’s one more part of the indoctrination.
It takes no imagination on my part to connect the dots, from kids’ indoctrination to – in a few years’ time – young adults being receptive to this…
The alleged shooter, Payton Gendron, was only 18 at the time of the shooting.
Next time something catches my eye on the comics page…
I’ll ignore it.
Not doing so makes me…