Tag Archives: mean

Dragon Comics 116

The pencil is mightier than the fang.

The pencil is mightier than the fang.

Usually, I like to think of myself as a pretty calm and thoughtful dragon, but sometimes, lately, for example, the little foibles of humanity can enrage me. I was seriously screaming at clueless drivers who were completely innocent of the rules of the road, especially those pertaining to the 4-way stop, and one car in particular not only almost caused an accident, then made 2 turns and a lane change without signaling. The driver remained blithely unaware of the mayhem he left in his wake.

It’s rare that someone dates to disrespect me to my face, though. Not since the late ’80s, anyway. Usually, if anyone tries, I cut them right down because I’m proactive like that. Every so often, for political reasons, I find it more prudent to smile and pretend. And then stew. And then make them a low level villain in a novel. Anyway, I think this comic helps.

The greatest thing you can do to someone who is rude to you is kill them with kindness. Smile and give them a big hug whenever you walk by. Call out their name and wave if they unexpectedly enter the room.

Or, you can draw a hilarious caricature of them and pass it around to people sympathetic to your cause.

In the end, dragons stay dragons. And vulgar, constipated people stay vulgar, constipated people. Eventually, most people work out which is which.

Fear and Loathing on the Internet

Eddy when he said he didn't like his teddy...

Eddy when he said he didn’t like his teddy…

When we were in grad school, the Rabbit used to draw little comics, which she sometimes stuck on my office door. I still, somewhere, have a rather dark one (which probably in part inspired this comic) with a little teddy bear and a big teddy bear, and the big teddy has spaced out eyes and a bottle in his hand, and the little teddy has a worried expression on his face, and the caption says, “Daddy, why do you drink?” This probably tells you more about the Rabbit than my comics do. She also had a surreal one about Sylvia Plath, except Plath was represented as a roast turkey. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, you probably don’t have an English degree. But trust me, it’s darkly humorous.

I fell into a click hole the other day at a website called getoffmyinternets.net (GOMI), which is basically a platform for a sarcastic blogger to make fun of other bloggers. The author chooses her targets–they’re exclusively the sort of  entitled popular attention-seekers who post dozens of pictures of themselves and their fabulous lifestyles we secretly want to watch fail–and takes a bitter joy in tearing them down, or, as often happens, watching from the sidelines as they self-destruct. She’s talking about people with thousands of followers, with monetized sites, with book deals, so it’s not as if she’s hurting anyone. These people will sink or swim regardless of her snarky opinion.

Still, after a dozen or so pages, I started to feel bad about myself for reading it. After all, if you think someone’s blog is overly precious, or ostentatious, or oozing with braggadocio, or petty, or stupid, or ugly, or pointless, or whatever, you can just not read it. Sure, it’s frustrating to see someone you deem utterly talentless succeeding on any level, particularly when you can’t reach that level yourself (I would know), it’s utterly unhealthy to focus on your distaste and make it the target of all your emotional expression (I would know).

Obviously, GOMI is successful because it’s mean, because it doesn’t pull punches, and because it lacks any sympathy for its victims. It doesn’t play safe.

You can like something even when you think it’s inappropriate. Weeks ago I read a scathing criticism of the fact that in Age of Ultron, Tony Stark makes a joke about prima nocta–that is: a rape joke. And yes joking about rape is horrible (although I would argue that this sort of thing results from the existence of the rape culture, rather than being responsible for its perpetuation) but to be totally honest, I laughed when I heard the joke in the theater last weekend. Hardly anyone else laughed, although I expect this was more because hardly anyone else got it, rather than because people were unamused by a casual historic reference to state-sanctioned rape.

The viewer knows that Tony Stark would never consider raping anyone, because he’s a billionaire philanthropist playboy genius and probably needs the Iron Man suit just to keep women from crushing him to death with their desire to get on him. And it’s totally the kind of unconsidered joke the character would make. (That was sort of the point of the movie, that Stark is a guy who is so intent on answering “Can we?” that he doesn’t consider “Should we?”) Sure, the movie would have been just as successful had he made no joke at all, or if he had instead joked about some other right of totalitarian dictators, but–screw it–I’m sorry, but that joke was funny to me, in context. It was dark and violent and inappropriate and it made me laugh at loud.

By and large, I’ve tried to keep my blog rated-G. My stepkids and my nephews read it sometimes, and other family members, and, I would imagine, my stepkids’ other family members. Occasionally I edge into PG territory. Anyone who actually knows me probably realizes what an accomplishment this is, because I myself am a basically R to NC-17 kind of person, despite the fact that I’m able to dial it back in the presence of children, the elderly, and the ethically prudish. So I drew this comic a while ago, and a big part of me wanted to run it because it amuses *me*, but at the same time, what it is is very dark, in its way. It’s different than what I’ve run in the last year. (Oh, wow, it’s been a year….)

Let me say this: I understand that domestic violence is NOT FUNNY. But a little girl’s relationship with her stuffed animals and primary love object can be very funny. Anyway, if you don’t like me, you’re free to get the hell off my Internets. The inside of my head is a weird place, and not everything can be compartmentalized all the time.

Dragon Comics 59

The real-life girl was promoting the idea of giving the cartoon girl a flame thrower in panel 4, but I feel that negates the message of the comic.

The real-life girl was promoting the idea of giving the comic girl a flamethrower in panel 4, but I feel that negates the message of the comic.

People who meet me as an adult don’t necessarily believe that I am a true introvert, and many of them are surprised to learned that I was, for many years, a friendless outcast silently suffering an endless campaign of bullying. I was one of those super-hated kids who got it from both sides, the boys and the girls, in public school and Hebrew school, physical and emotional, and furthermore, there were a couple teachers who I felt were pretty mean for no good reason. Sure, I was probably an insufferable know-it-all who talked about weird and esoteric topics and didn’t realize that others judged me on my external appearance, but what I really would have liked was to be left alone. Like many super-nerds, I made it to college (I graduated high school early and started college literally 2 weeks later; that’s how desperate I was to get out, even though the bullying subsided by sophomore year), worked out some social skills, and suddenly found that the haters were in the minority and I was a relatively well-liked dragon.

Still and all, when the girl started complaining that she was being bullied in school, I suffered a couple weeks of PTSD with her. When I was a kid, there was no response to bullying from school administrations. I doubt they could have done much; when 50% of the 7th grade is involved in perpetrating terror, it’s not like they’re all just going to stop because you tell them. Once, a boy punched me in the nose on the school bus and my mother called his mother, which had no effect on his behavior, and there was nothing else to do. That’s not the case now. Most schools brag about their zero-tolerance policy for bullying, and while anyone who knows anything about children can roll their eyes with the knowledge that adults can’t keep a promise like that, at least they actually try.

Ben’s Bells is a beloved Tucson institution, working toward the goal of strengthening communities through kindness awareness. They have a lot of programs, and offer effective kindness education to schools in the region. Most school participate, include the girl’s. When the bullying began, her parents and I tried to offer her some tools for standing up for herself and getting away from her tormentor, but she wasn’t able to wield them effectively, so I contacted her teacher, who immediately brought several administrators on board, sent the girls to the school’s dedicated kindness counselor (can you imagine? how different would life have been 30 years ago?), and immediately ended the problem. Just like that.

So, I didn’t give the girl a flamethrower, because you don’t have to fight fire with fire. It’s actually more effective to overwhelm it with water: compassion.