Friday, January 16, 2004

Johnny Hart

Memo to Johnny Hart: YOU ARE DUMB.
Just go away. Take your prosletyzing cavemen and your 1953 sensibilities and just walk, OK? Please? Think of the children.
It's bad enough that you're part of the insidious cabal that's become this entrenched, comics-page oligarchy. You and the Hagar guy and the Blondie guy and the Beetle Bailey guy who've been writing the same joke for 40+ years. They're even passing the strips on to their descendants! Hereditary unfunniness! If any of these strips were submitted to editors as new strips, they'd be shown the door. But they stick around.
And why do they stick around? Old people. Old, scared people. Old, scared people who watch PAX-TV, and who would watch the Good Life network except that the newfangled digital cable box doesn't make any danged sense anyway and back in the day if you wanted to watch good wholesome Dragnet reruns all you had to do was turn the dial, not enter missile launch codes into some digital contraption.
These are the newspaper diehards. Since the dawn of time, they have received their news the old-fashioned way: on dead trees, hurled through the air by child labor. "B.C." and its ilk are there to appease these people, to give them an island of nostalgia in a cruel, uncaring world where people say "nipple" on television and nobody has a coronary in sheer outrage.
But "B.C." is the worst of the lot, because as bad as the rest are, they have the good sense to stay stupid and bland and keep their heads down. Hart, on the other hand, loves making points. He likes to have menorahs snuffed out to reveal crosses. He has cavemen talk about how great Jesus was at every opportunity. Depending on interpretation, he may, a couple of months ago, have compared Islam with an outhouse.
And then there's the latest uproar. Monday's strip will apparently feature the cavemen discussing failed Asian attempts to build an airplane, with the punchline "Two Wongs don't make a Wright."
Drink that in for a moment. Enjoy the rich complexity of how stupid and offensive the whole thing is. This would be AFTER Abercrombie and Fitch got in trouble for a similar joke, mind you. Not to mention trying to figure out from what moral high ground these cavemen, whose sole transportation innovation to date has been the Foot-Axle Unicycle, get to mock Chinese prehistoric aviation experiments. But Hart marches on, apparently blithly unaware of progress, his own storied past, and the fact that a major corporation got slapped down for doing something similar last year.
For this, and, come to think of it, for your entire body of work, Johnny Hart... YOU ARE DUMB.