Cidu Bill on Jan 2nd 2013

A few people sent this to me as a CIDU.

Back in the day, kids were told “Finish your dinner, there are kids starving in China (or Africa, depending on when you were growing up)” — until they were old enough to question how finishing their dinner would do a damn thing to help those poor Chinese or African children.

So this comic gives us the Bizarro World version by having an African child told that American children are over-eating, and somehow they’ll be helped if he doesn’t finish his dinner.

Filed in Bill Bickel, Cyanide and Happiness, comic strips, comics, humor | 33 responses so far

33 Responses to “Eat”

  1. mitch4 Jan 2nd 2013 at 08:48 am 1

    Yes, that’s the same way it strikes me. Though I didn’t have ‘China’ as the site of the starving children in whose honor I must finish my meal. And express gratitude — I think that was also part of the message, perhaps making a little more logic.

    The C&H turnaround is done pretty neatly. But not really funny IMO.

  2. yellojkt Jan 2nd 2013 at 09:05 am 2

    Any reference to ’starving kids in [geographic area]’ is a possible Geezer alert. Early baby boomers were told they were in post-war Europe. Then China, then India, then Africa, particularly Ethiopia.

  3. Kilby Jan 2nd 2013 at 09:24 am 3

    The funny thing is that this same argument is used by various agencies in an effort to encourage people to save water. Fixing a leaky faucet may make a minor contribution to preserving the local water table, but it does nothing to help the poor people in arid regions.

  4. Morris Keesan Jan 2nd 2013 at 10:00 am 4

    I wonder if I’m the only geezer who thought of Allan Sherman after seeing this comic (Actually, I thought of him when I read Bill’s explanation, before loading the image). On Sherman’s album My Son, the Nut, there’s a song titled “Hail to Thee, Fat Person”, in which he explains how he got fat: “My mother told me to clean the plate, because there were children starving in India. So I cleaned the plate … four, five, six times a day, because somehow I thought that would help the starving children in India. … So the next time you see a fat person, do not mock. Say to them, ‘Hail to Thee, Fat Person. You kept us out of war.’”

    I’m sure I’ve misquoted, but I can’t believe I remember that so clearly, when I haven’t listened to that record in more than 30 years.

  5. Mark M Jan 2nd 2013 at 10:10 am 5

    Weird Al uses Japan as his country of reference when encouraging kids to “Eat It”. Always struck me as an odd choice, but after all, it is Weird Al.

  6. Foxtail Jan 2nd 2013 at 10:11 am 6

    The starving kids in Africa thing was more a guilt manipulation than a logical justification.

    Thinking of some stick thin child, desperate for the Brussel Sprouts you so wantonly are pushing round your plate in disgust, desperate for them to ‘accidentally’ fall on the floor

    The guilt worked, but logically it’s flawed, because yes, it doesn’t help them at all.
    The reversed situation in C&H is perfect for demonstrating this.

  7. Ed Jan 2nd 2013 at 11:41 am 7

    Drink up, don’t you know there are sober children in Africa?

  8. James Pollock Jan 2nd 2013 at 12:08 pm 8

    The point isn’t that you should eat the yucky food because it will somehow help the kids in (wherever). Never was. The point is that you should be thankful to have it in the first place, because there are people who don’t have food at all, yucky or otherwise.

  9. Elyrest Jan 2nd 2013 at 12:28 pm 9

    I don’t remember my mother saying this - our family never needed encouragement to eat. It was a constant refrain from my childhood though and it was always starving children in China. We did have that Allan Sherman album, Morris Keesan, and played and sang the silly songs so maybe I picked it up from there too. The C&H comic, even though not laughable, does a good reverse on the phrase. So I guess I can blame any extra pounds I have on those gluttons in Africa. I thought it was Christmas cookies.

  10. J-L Jan 2nd 2013 at 01:03 pm 10

    Mark M (#5):

    Yeah, I always thought that Japan was a strange choice of country to use for that song. Which makes me think that he used it solely because it rhymes with “Raisin Bran.”

    (A link to the lyrics: )

  11. Judge Mental Jan 2nd 2013 at 01:32 pm 11

    I’m with James P #7. I often heard the the “kids are starving in (Africa)” refrain when I was a kid and never once was did I think the intended message was that I would somehow help them by eating all my (yucky) food. The point was strictly “you should be thankful for what you have”. As a matter of fact, if not for the comments here, the “eat your food to help those starving kids” angle never would have even occurred to me (as it makes no sense whatever).

  12. Jeff S. Jan 2nd 2013 at 02:01 pm 12

    I agree with Judge Mental… I only heard the phrase when it was prefaced with, “You should be thankful for what you have, because…”, and I don’t think I ever heard it as a stand alone explanation in and of itself (eating the food will help the starving kids, wherever they may be).

  13. Keera Jan 2nd 2013 at 02:45 pm 13

    If you’re a 60’s geezer, then the starving kids were in Biafra. What a miserable three years for a nation.

    My mother never guilted me into finishing my food. She grew up with that nonsense and had no intention of passing on said nonsense to the next generation. I was therefore, from an early age, forced to learn gratitude through other means than finishing my broccoli. I tell ya, childhood can be rough.

  14. Scott Jan 2nd 2013 at 04:05 pm 14

    My late mother-in-law was born in 1916, and when she was growing up it was starving Armenians.
    As for me, I never had problems eating, but when I ate too fast my father said that I was eating like the Russians were in New Jersey. (I grew up in Queens.)

  15. James Pollock Jan 2nd 2013 at 05:32 pm 15

    When I was growing up, the refrain was about starving kids “in India”, although the ACTUAL starving kids were located in East Africa. At least, the ones people were singing about where in Africa. (”Do they know it’s Christmas” was a way better song than “We are the World” was, but my favorite was “Stars” by Hear’N Aid, even if they did let the guys from Spinal Tap in. Ronnie Dio sounded way more sincere than anyone in USA for Africa, for sure.)

  16. Mark in Boston Jan 2nd 2013 at 06:03 pm 16

    When my mother told me about the starving children in India, that only made me less hungry. How can you eat when there are starving children somewhere?

  17. Cidu Bill Jan 2nd 2013 at 06:54 pm 17

    I always wanted to write a letter “Dear Band-Aid: They’re not Christian. They do know it’s Christmas, they just don’t give a damn.”

  18. Bob in Nashville Jan 2nd 2013 at 07:15 pm 18

    Yep, Bill pretty much summed it up in the comment with which he put the comic. Add to the old bit about the kid eventually questioning how his eating could help to the wisecrack universally made by kids of all time frames: “Then give this to them instead of making me eat it.”

  19. ShadZ Jan 2nd 2013 at 07:24 pm 19

    According to Wikipedia, Ethopia is majority Christian, and has been since the 4th century…

  20. Cidu Bill Jan 2nd 2013 at 08:12 pm 20

    Was Ethiopia the Starving African Country Du Jour when the song was written? Hard to remember. And of course, the popular media (and the most well-known charities) have shown that they can only focus on one starving African country at a time.

  21. Frosted Donut Jan 2nd 2013 at 08:43 pm 21

    Here’s Allan Sherman performing “Hail to Thee, Fat Person”:

  22. Carl Jan 2nd 2013 at 09:43 pm 22

    My mother was told about starving kids in Appalachia.

  23. Danny Boy (London Derriere) Jan 2nd 2013 at 10:14 pm 23

    According to Wikipedia, Ethopia is majority Christian, and has been since the 4th century…

    I find that Haile Unlikelie!

  24. zookeeper Jan 2nd 2013 at 10:28 pm 24

    It was either in India or the Armenians, always a one word phrase as in “starvingArmenians.”

  25. Morris Keesan Jan 2nd 2013 at 10:59 pm 25

    Wikipedia says that it was the famine in Ethiopia that inspired the song, citing this BBC news article, and an interview on YouTube, among other sources.

    Frosted Donut, thanks for posting that link to Allan Sherman — it really brings back memories. And I should have remembered that his line was “Children are starving in Europe,” because of the following line, “and this was years before the Marshall plan was even heard of.” I had to ask my parents to explain that part to me.

    (I’m slightly amused that about half of the comments in this thread are arriving in my email inbox with “[POSSIBLE SPAM]” inserted in the subject line.

  26. Morris Keesan Jan 2nd 2013 at 11:08 pm 26

    How strange. James Pollock’s comment, which my comment (currently #25) was in response to, is timestamped 11:28pm, which is almost half an hour after I’m typing this, and my comment got inserted in front of it, as I expect this one will be also. I wonder if Bill has accidentally adjusted the time-of-day clock on his server.

    I forgot to note, in my previous comment, that I never saw, or heard, much of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, which I think got much less exposure in the US than in the UK. The following song, “We Are the World”, by “USA for Africa”, was the one that was impossible to avoid over here, and its proceeds were intended for wider distribution, as well as for spending on attempts to find longer-term solutions to Africa’s food problems. Again per Wikipedia, the initial shipment of food, medicine, etc., went to Ethiopia and Sudan, and many projects have been launched in seven African countries.

  27. James Pollock Jan 2nd 2013 at 11:28 pm 27

    “Was Ethiopia the Starving African Country Du Jour when the song was written?”
    Ethiopia was in the midst of famine during the various musical relief efforts, yes, but as far as I know, wasn’t uniquely targeted… relief efforts were targeted to Africa generically (so that as later residuals came in, they could be directed anywhere on the continent. Famine relief efforts in Somalia were (famously) not as successful.

  28. Proginoskes Jan 3rd 2013 at 03:59 am 28

    Mom would always say to me: “Eat your food, there are people starving in Africa.”

    Once I said: “Let’s send it to them then.”

    I don’t remember anything after that.

  29. James Pollock Jan 3rd 2013 at 01:37 pm 29

    “Do they know it’s Christmas” saw heavy rotation on MTV. You can see the video on YouTube, and it’s a powerful video (besides being, as I noted, the far better song). “We Are the World” just came off as copycat (although noble of purpose, of course.)

  30. Tyson Jan 8th 2013 at 06:41 am 30

    I remember the “starving kids in China” reference being used when I was a kid, although I don’t know if it was my parents, a friends’, or just from other kids at school.

    On a separate note, am I not the only one that doesn’t think this is an African child? Call me crazy, but I usually don’t think of African children eating chicken wings.
    I thought this was actually a double reference to an African-American eating fried chicken and thus becoming a fat American (thus pointing out that the logic of eating food for the sake of starving people leaves them hungry while making you overeat).
    It seems a bit racist, but I thought that was an added part of the humor, knowing the reputation of the C&H guys,

  31. osurickbee Jan 10th 2013 at 04:56 pm 31

    “Bizarro World”? I call geezer tag! (that’s not a thing anymore, right?)

  32. Elyrest Jan 10th 2013 at 07:42 pm 32

    osurickbee - I haven’t read a Superman comic in years, but I never even blinked at “Bizarro World”. Do they not still use that premise in Superman anymore?

  33. Jeff S. Jan 10th 2013 at 08:07 pm 33

    According to Wikipedia… yeah, I know… Bizarro’s most recent appearance was in 2010 in an issue of “Superman/Batman”.

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