sick sad world:
August 3, 2002 7:55 AM   Subscribe

sick sad world: what if beetle bailey were at the world trade center when it was attacked. . . (i saw the link at pop culture junk mail, scroll down to july 23)
posted by crush-onastick (37 comments total)
Well that was stupid.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2002

Who's beetle bailey? Is this an american thing? Don't get the joke myself.
posted by Jubey at 8:32 AM on August 3, 2002

really stupid. the whole royal journal site manages to be both pretentious and impressively unfunny. what a waste of time!
posted by chrisgrau at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2002

This has been around since a few weeks after 9/'s still uninteresting.
posted by Qubit at 8:38 AM on August 3, 2002

Blue Train, I though it was kinda stupid too, but mostly I thought it was bizarre.

I'm not quite sure what the person who did this was trying to accomplish. PCJM's author was really moved, but I wasn't.

I was curious about what people thought it was trying to do; what reaction it was trying to provoke.

Mea maxima if it just wasn't that interesting to anyone else!
posted by crush-onastick at 9:05 AM on August 3, 2002

what reaction it was trying to provoke

I wondered the same thing. It made me feel weird. I went into it expecting maybe heartless satire, or childish sentimentality. I don't think it was either of those, and in the end it's just as bewildering as why anyone reads Beetle Bailey.
posted by holycola at 9:18 AM on August 3, 2002

.... and in the end it's just as bewildering as why anyone reads Beetle Bailey.

Coincidentally, I was just looking at this article today about Beetle Bailey modernizing itself by adding a computer technician.
posted by bobo123 at 10:36 AM on August 3, 2002

I like Royal Journal's found art page a lot. FWIW, the guy behind the site,
Jack Szwergold
, was the original Webmaster for the Onion.
posted by mediareport at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2002

I saw that when it was first posted to Pop Culture Junk Mail, and didn't get it. I still don't get it now -- it's not tasteless, exactly, or really sentimental, it's just... weird. And pointless.
posted by sarcasticah at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2002

The point is to juxtapose the inane frivolity of a comic strip like Beetle Bailey with the gut-wrenching solemnity of the 9/11 tragedy. It's probably being done for laughs here rather than pathos, but the same thing was at work in Art Spiegelman's Maus, which depicted mice, pigs, and other anthropomorphic animals in a graphic novel about the Holocaust.

Didn't anyone else waste years of their life on literary analysis?
posted by rcade at 10:49 AM on August 3, 2002

Is this an american thing? Don't get the joke myself.

I think it's safe to say that most of us here in America don't get it either.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 10:58 AM on August 3, 2002

"I know how you feel."

"Yeah, me too."

posted by ODiV at 11:10 AM on August 3, 2002

It's an interesting idea, to juxtapose beetle bailey's unfunny daily images with descriptions of the horrific event, but the execution is poor. The writing is pretty lame, and the whole thing falls flat, though I commend the author for giving it a go. I generally love the stuff at RoyalJournal as it's original and funny.

If the author was going for shockingly funny, they could have used a goofier comic like Family Circus (who attacked the trade center? "Not Me!" Jeffy exclaimed) or Cathy ("Hey Cathy, did you hear 3,000 just died tragically in a terrorist event?" "Yeah, I really should start a diet, I'm fat."). Or going with Beetle Bailey's stupid military setting, they used interesting images and it looks authentic, but the captions are either tasteless or mean, or just plain dumb.
posted by mathowie at 11:26 AM on August 3, 2002

What Rogers said. And, on preview, mathowie. In any event, that was ... oblique.

PCJM's author is GaelFC.
posted by dhartung at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2002

On general overview, this reminds me of many of the Onion's articles covering 9/11. Especially the one about the woman baking the flag cake - it wasn't going for open, out and out humor, but something of a bittersweet flavor.

I think the general atmosphere of the comic would have been understood better while the pain, the sense of futility regarding the attacks, and many other emotions were still fresh and running high.

In any event, I've never been a Beetle Bailey fan, but I "got it." I think the timing's off by months, though, for it to be topical.
posted by precocious at 11:41 AM on August 3, 2002

I understood the concept, but it just didn't quite work out.  It wasn't really funny, it was just bizarre.  I felt like I was washing an old, washed-up celebrity present an award at the Oscars, someone who hasn't worked in years, and he was obviously drunk, but no one could tell him anything about it and they just had to let him keep going.
posted by nath at 11:49 AM on August 3, 2002

Singularly unfunny. Sa-tired
posted by johnnyboy at 12:02 PM on August 3, 2002

I admired the work it must have taken to find existing images from the strip that fit the story he was trying to tell (unless he drew it all, too, but I don't think he did).

Juxtaposing the insipid with the serious is a frequent theme at Royal Journal. They also deserve props for hosting the J&H Productions tapes for several years.

How did we all feel about the Dilbert Hole strips? I don't find any threads about them.
posted by britain at 12:45 PM on August 3, 2002

How did we all feel about the Dilbert Hole strips? I don't find any threads about them.

The Dilbert Hole stuff was mildly amusing, but the legal threats about them one site got, including emails addressed to "Dear," were very funny.

The Beetle Bailey strip was weird; somewhere between offensive and pathetic, with a touch of "Huh?"
posted by kirkaracha at 1:19 PM on August 3, 2002

the beetle bailey was dumb...but had the right blankly maudlin feeling (i'm actually glad charles shultz died before 9/11 bec. there would have been a snoopy tribute)...and dilbert hole is hysterical! thanks for passing it on.
posted by amberglow at 1:20 PM on August 3, 2002

I think it's useful to consider here that Beetle Bailey traditionally does not engage current events in any way. Some high-profile journalist (sorry, forgot who) wrote an article about this during the Gulf War, talking about how the BB artist had the opportunity to, if not express a political opinion, at least imply that Beetle and Sarge were taking part, to entertain readers, or to comfort them, or to be patriotic, or even to make jokes about the day-to-day living situations the soldiers over there were facing...or something, anything to suggest that Beetle does not live in an abstact, Wizard of Id situation that is really not supposed to represent any relation to reality at all.

I used to read Beetle Bailey as a kid, and I was always intriuged by the purposeful dullness of it, the simultaneous allusions to serious issues (a general's chronic and destructive alcoholism, a sergeant's obsession with harassing a particular soldier, a soldier's proud laziness), and the apparent lack of interest in making those issues either a bit more funny or a bit more serious.

For some reason, this comic strip has, since I started reading it in the 70s anyway, always been about this sort of deliberately bland humor that deliberately but inexplicably touches on seriousness regularly. It's never been funny, and it's never seemed to me that it was really trying to be funny. I'm not sure what the artist was trying to do here, but I think he did at least peg something about the weirdness of the comic strip. Whether he was trying to say something more sophisticated, I'm really not sure.

This parody doesn't offend me, but rcade: comparing it to Maus is a bit of a stretch, no?
posted by bingo at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2002

Yes, quite Onionesque.
posted by Scottk at 1:40 PM on August 3, 2002

The point is to juxtapose the inane frivolity of a comic strip like Beetle Bailey with the gut-wrenching solemnity of the 9/11 tragedy

the problem might be that no one really thinks of beetle bailey as inanely frivolous - it's just plain stupidly pointless. Yes those words are similar, but I think that shift stops the joke from working. On top of which it's still a very complicated thing to be humorous about.
posted by mdn at 2:24 PM on August 3, 2002

not funny, not shocking, not a revelation in sight.

posted by trioperative at 3:24 PM on August 3, 2002

Dysfunctional Family Circus.
posted by swift at 5:38 PM on August 3, 2002

"Beetle Bailey" is an old, old strip. As I'm sure you all know, Beetle started out as a kind of goofy college kid, then he got drafted during the World War Two. I certainly had a lot more vitality in the old days. Now it's just a franchise that's been driven into the ground. In it's favor, I have to say that it's no worse than many of the brand new strips that have been finding their way into the papers. At least it's legible, the characters are drawn with a clear, strong line, and the women are clearly defined as bazoomy sex objects, a la airline stewardesses circa 1966. And my father, who was in the army, adds that it's pretty realistic. There were lots of guys like Beetle: draftees who were so depressed by their fate that they slept constantly, anytime, anywhere.
posted by Faze at 6:39 PM on August 3, 2002

Comic strip geek time: What's the connection between Beetle and Hi & Lois?
posted by mediareport at 7:21 PM on August 3, 2002

They're his sister and brother-in-law.

(I didn't know that, but I did know that they were created by the same person, Mort Walker, and found this out when I double-checked to confirm.)
posted by kirkaracha at 9:41 PM on August 3, 2002

I'd like for Marmaduke to chime in with his usual biting commentary on current events. That dog always make me think.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:02 PM on August 3, 2002

I really like how the General is a sexist pig. That's the funniest part of a very, very funny strip.
posted by anildash at 11:42 PM on August 3, 2002

That dog always make me think.

This is the funniest thing I've read all day.
posted by nath at 1:03 AM on August 4, 2002

Surpassing odd, that.

I don't buy the detournement angle - among other things, these strips DO look hand-drawn to me.

It's nowhere near sharp enough to work as a *Maus*esque comic-confronts-history.

And it's nothing, nothing at all like the *Onion*, which earned its laughter in a very black time by mapping with devastating accuracy the conflicts 09.11 opened up in normally intelligent, normally empathetic types.

I'd love to hear what the guy who foisted this on the world has to say, in further detail.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:17 AM on August 4, 2002

What's the connection between Beetle and Hi & Lois?

They're his sister and brother-in-law.

Yeah, Dot and Ditto love it when Uncle Beetle comes to visit. The last time it happened, Beetle was dressed like a 1920s version of a college kid. 23-skidoo and all that. I remember thinking "what the fuck?"

God, those poor kids have been trapped in the suburbs since 1954. They must be bored out of their skulls. And Chip's a ticking time bomb, for sure.
posted by mediareport at 8:04 AM on August 4, 2002

quonsar: I picture Snoopy, covered with dust, walking into a bar and demanding a root beer.
posted by dhartung at 9:55 AM on August 4, 2002

Just a note: I run the Weblog where this was spotted ( Pop Culture Junk Mail) but I'd like it known that I just linked to the comic, didn't create it. I linked to it on my site because I had the same reaction most of you had--confusion, an "umm, what?" feeling.

Beetle Bailey is a horribly unfunny American comic strip set in the military world, and I'm hardly a fan. But still, seeing 9-11 put in comic form affected me, and I'm not going to apologize for that.

But I don't think the site creators intended that. I suspect they just wanted to be offbeat and somewhat shocking.
posted by GaelFC at 12:57 PM on August 4, 2002

posted by drstrangelove at 2:14 PM on August 4, 2002

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