I gave up reading Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury strip some thirty years ago. In the mid-1980’s I attended a version of Trudeau’s incredibly lame satirical revue Rap Master Ronnie when it played at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. By Trudeau’s lights, Ronald Reagan was of course a stupid oaf. I haven’t taken another look at Trudeau’s work since then.
Yesterday, however, a reader asked us to respond to Trudeau’s Sunday Doonesbury strip attacking bloggers (the reduced image below is linked to a full-size reproduction of the strip at the Slate archive of the Doonesbury daily strips). I’m not familiar with the characters Trudeau employs in this strip, but his point seems to be that bloggers are obsessive, clueless, vainly in love with the sound of their voice even if no one is listening, and perhaps delusional. I’m sure the portrait applies to some cartoonists as well as bloggers.
We thought that Chris Muir’s wonderful Day by Day characters might be in the best position to respond to Trudeau’s strip. They have answered the call (click to enlarge); thanks to Chris for putting them to work on Independence Day.
UPDATE: Queens College Professor Michael Mailer comments:
In addition, doesn’t it seem that part of Trudeau’s point is that bloggers are POOR? So poor in fact they have to eat cat food, because no one will pay for their work? And therefore of no consequence. (Before the cat food crack, T’s character asks: “If the market really valued what you have to say wouldn’t someone pay you for it?”) Not rich and elite like Trudeau.
I distinctly remember back in the Reagan era liberals complaining that his policies were so harsh they were forcing the elderly to survive on cat food (i.e., low grade canned tuna). At the time this was thought to reflect badly on Reagan, not on the elderly. When exactly did it become fashionable on the “left” to put down people for working for ideals without pay, or for not being affluent like Trudeau and his buddies?
Maybe when their candidates were 100+ millionaires like Edwards and Kerry.
DEACON adds: I thought Trudeaus’s cartoon was a pretty good piece of satire. It’s also nice to see that he has so much faith in markets.
ROCKET responds: That didn’t occur to me, but you may be right. Trudeau might be satirizing clueless media types who don’t know that many people would take the radio guy’s characterization of bloggers and revise it slightly, to say: “Isn’t journalism basically for angry, semi-employed losers who are too untalented or lazy to get real jobs?” I wouldn’t say that, of course, but some would.
Actually, though, I don’t think it’s satire. I think it’s just another case of Trudeau having no idea what he’s talking about. I’m guessing, Deacon, that the partners in your firm aren’t eating a lot of cat food these days.
SCOTT adds: Thanks to the many readers who have written with thoughtful comments — too many to acknowledge individually — on the Trudeau and Muir strips. C.E.H. Wiedel of Kicking Over My Traces has created his own brand of blog-powering cat food in “Know-nothing Doonesbury.” J. Bowen of No Watermelons Allowed offers background on the characters in the Doonesbury strip:
Scott, that’s “Megaphone” Mark Slackmeyer. He was around even 30 years ago, with Mike Doonesbury, Mike’s nerdy roommate, BD, Joanie Caucus, Uncle Duke, Phred the Viet Cong guy, Zonker, the whole works. Trudeau may have killed off some characters by now, but I missed it.
This link is a long history of the strip, complete with a strip of Mark as you probably remember him along with Mike, Joanie and Zonker (click here).
I gave up on Doonesbury some time back, but not before Mark had come out as gay. Doonesbury wouldn’t have been complete without a gay character of course. I used to enjoy the strips when construction guys would beat up Mark for his agitation stunts – little did I know I was supporting (closeted) gay bashing.
Steven Groeneveld writes from Germany:
I am a South African (Dutch extraction and currently an Irish national) living in Germany who has spent sometime in the US so I am a veritable one-man multinational club. I read and enjoy your blog every day and I am familiar with the Doonesbury strip from my sojourn in the US in 1997-1998.
I am somewhat confused by the “logic” behind the Doonesbury cartoon you featured as it betrays an inconsistent argument from American “liberals” (Incidentally, I dislike the misappropriation of the word “liberal” by the American left as it has a totally different meaning in the rest of the English speaking world, but I suppose it is a self-labelling not dissimilar to the misuse of the word “bolshevik,” meaning majority, by the minority Russian communists in the early 20th century).
On the one hand they readily trot out the ad hominem attack on any criticiser of the left as being in the pay of big business, big oil or any other big bogeyman du jour, and on the other, try to paint a picture of bloggers having worthless opinions that no-one would pay for. These guys want to have their cake and eat it too.
Brian O’Neill writes:
In retrospect, I think that thanks are due both to Garry Trudeau and Chris Muir for the entertainment they have afforded over this holiday weekend.
JOHN adds one more comment: Whatever you do, don’t miss “Night of the Living Doonesbury.” It is hilarious. If there were any justice in the world, it would put Doonesbury in its grave, once and for all. However, as the blogger concludes:
Think about it: Bloom County, the Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes, all far superior & more original than Doonesbury, yet they couldn’t hack it. They chose to go out gracefully while still fresh & at the top, but not you. Probably after I’m dead & gone, you’ll still be doing this s*** in your sleep, & people will finally have to beat Doonesbury into the grave, like the Living Dead or Joan Rivers.