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An adequate summation on the follies of XKCD

May 28, 2010

XKCD is a webcomic. Its author is a nerd, and as such, it is a webcomic tailored specifically to nerds. The kind of nerds who enjoy internet memes, the Discovery Channel, math jokes pigeonholed into awkward love jokes, and coding open-source software with no practical benefits.

I used to enjoy XKCD for most of the aforementioned elements. Even though I barely have a rudimentary understanding of computer code, even the hacker-themed comics could make me smile. Unfortunately, the comic has been experiencing a gradual but noticeable decline in the overall quality of its humour and themes. Perhaps this is a reflection on the comic’s exploding popularity circa approximately early 2009, or perhaps there’s only so much blood you can squeeze out of the pummice-like stone of geekhood.

And yet, I still read XKCD on a daily basis. I might do this just to maintain a gold standard of fecal matter — an important cautionary measure against the kind of overly sensitive introvert humour that evokes the most repulsive Michael Cera vehicles. To aid this cause, I’ve supplemented my readings with XKCD Explained.

While they’re usually spot-on with their analysis of the comic, the author’s intent, and the greater ethos surrounding the daily joke, today’s installment is especially apt, distilling the essence of exactly what has been bothering me about the comic into a harsh but drinkable truth.

As we have seen in previous issues, the Author has a somewhat adversarial opinion of women’s role in reproduction. This opinion is fairly representative of the young male psyche, which craves female attention (e.g., sex, submission, etc.) but fears any sort of sincere human connection or compromise. The child and its “stickup” represents the Author’s fear of obligation and compromise; he cannot maintain his self-deception of being a good and well-adjusted person without raising a child and being faithful to a woman. But, this places the Author in a position of nearly intolerable compromise and obligation. His possessions, free time, and energy must all be devoted to his new child. This effectively robs him of his youth.

I’m sure that by further antagonizing the author and his work, I’m simply perpetuating the loathing and fear he has of the “adult world,” which he seems so reluctant to enter. But I think that realizing this truth has helped me to gain a better perspective on why the comic can’t make me smile like it used to — I’ve grown up, and Randall just keeps clinging to his childhood.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 28, 2010 4:49 pm

    I get the sense that XKCD Explained is satire. The overly complicated first-year-English-major descriptions seem to be mocking either XKCD or readers who don’t understand XKCD.

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