Monday, May 3, 2010

Letter: A Response to the Criticisms of an “Offensive” Comic

The following was submitted by blog reader Kevin Froleiks because we don't have word count limits on letters. Take that TNH! (Just kidding, don't fire me.) This may appear in Tuesday's TNH, but cut down to 300 words.

Last week, in the Friday, April 30, 2010 issue of The New Hampshire, there were two letters to the editor complaining about the comic strip on page 3 of the Tuesday, April 27th issue.  The letters, although making different arguments, both focused on how “offensive”, “unfunny”, and “juvenile” the comic strip was.  I would now like to give my criticisms of those criticisms.

The first letter expressed how appalling it was that a comic strip was printed in last Tuesday’s issue that referenced intercourse with a “TWO-year-old” and mistaking a foreign woman for someone with a mental retardation.  The comic, in question, revolved around two gentleman discussing sexual fantasies.  One says to the other that he would enjoy sexual intercourse with Cindy Lou Who from   “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.  The second gentlemen responds with utter horror and points out that Cindy Lou Who is “only two” and then confesses that his sexual fantasy would involve Ms. Swan, a popular character from MAD TV, whom the first gentlemen mistakes for having a  mental retardation.  Before we continue, I would like to ask all of you to think about this premise.  It is quite silly, isn’t it?  Anyway, let’s move on.

The issue with this comic strip should not be that it was offensive, but rather that it was inaccurate.  Cindy Lou Who is not actually two years old.  Dr. Seuss tells us that Cindy Lou Who is “no more than two”.  Perhaps the comic’s artist, Colin Hayward, was suggesting that Cindy Lou Who had recently celebrated her 2nd birthday.  However, because Cindy Lou Who is fictional, she cannot age.  If, hypothetically, her fictional character could age then she would now be in the neighborhood of 55 years old as she was “no more than two” in the year 1957.  If you think about it that way, wanting to have sex with Cindy Lou Who is a lot less weird than your friend who bought a calendar with the sole purpose of counting down the days until Miley Cyrus turns 18…you know the guy…we all have “that friend”.

The second letter began with similar comments as the first, calling the comic “offensive” and “unacceptable”.  The letter then explained how there were two articles in last Tuesday’s issue about programs that SHARPP provides on campus and argued that this comic strip undermined the efforts by groups such as SHARPP.  I think that it is safe to say that a comic strip couldn’t possibly undermine the efforts of an organization that focuses on preventing and providing education relating to sexual harassment and sexual violence.  Organizations like SHARPP do an incredible amount of good for the UNH campus.  I would argue that they do so much good for our community that nothing as simple as a comic strip would ever be able to undermine their efforts.

To conclude, offensive, juvenile, and undermining works have their place.  However, a lot of people can miss out on the enjoyment of such works, especially if they cannot refrain from over analyzing them.  That being said, a lot of people can also find the humor in the absurdity of the offensive content.  There have been many works that have undermined a certain organization in the past.    The writers of “South Park” undermine a different social group or institution with a 30 minute cartoon every Wednesday night at 10pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Comedy Central.   The Jungle, written in 1906 by Upton Sinclair (available in its original, uncensored version for $7.95 on completely undermined the meatpacking industry and led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration despite the books obvious, socialist undertones that President Teddy Roosevelt did not approve of.  Apparently Colin Hayward’s comic strip, “They Both Seem Nice”, undermined an organization with only 3 panels of illustration…that’s pretty impressive, if you ask me.

At this point you may be asking yourselves, “Is this guy being serious?”  Well…you caught me, dear readers; I am not being serious, because we are talking about a comic strip, and taking a comic strip seriously would undermine its point.

Kevin Froleiks


  1. Having started my day reading the funny pages every day since fifth grade, I feel confident in the following statement: Newspaper comics are not supposed to be funny.

    There's no other way to explain Zippy the Pinhead.

  2. over-analyzation should only be used in the minds of 14 year old girls when they over-analyze the body language of a petty crush on a boy 50ft across the lunchroom. drama usually ensues afterwards.

    people are ridiculous. i think you laid this one to rest Kevin. good work.

  3. I totally agree with you...people really need to realize it's fictional - get over it.