34 Comments

  1. Coffee Lady is calmly explaining how people treat her as rational, but she has olives-on-toothpicks speared into her eyes.

    That isn’t humor. It’s a horror comic.

  2. Problematic movies:
    Visiting my parents, my wife rented “Gigi” after vetoing our teenager / tweenager’s suggestions.

    The 1958 movie is a famous MGM musical: “At the 31st Academy Awards, the film won all nine of its nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Minnelli. It held the record for the highest clean sweep of nominations until The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

    But young girls watching this movie in the 1990s, disgruntled at Mom’s movie choice, found the plot scandalous, and “Gigi” has become a part of family lore. And old Maurice Chevalier singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” now just seems creepy.

  3. The mannequin one was especially funny to me because of how it scrolled into view. I had read the entire dialogue box before I’d scrolled down enough to see his lower half.

  4. Well, a humorous frog applause….

    I suppose it was always a hypothetical possibility….

    But my opinion of Reply All remains completely unchanged.

  5. The public library that my mom took us to had some special suggestion shelves, including in the children’s section one reserved for Newbery Award winners — so over a couple years of borrowing another one every couple of weeks, I had read most of those that even hinted at being interesting. One of my favorites was The Twenty-One Balloons.

    During the time I worked in a tech-support capacity in an “outreach” project with the Chicago Public Schools system, at some of our “client” schools our main contact was with the school librarian. Some sort of class activity in one library put me in mind of that book; so I ordered a couple copies, and gave one to that library while keeping one for myself. The next time I saw that librarian, we had both looked thru it, and had to just sadly shake our heads. Some of the features which were delightful and instructive for me as a youngster — the suite of international / ethnic personal appearances, clothing, family structures, and of course cuisines (important to the story) as described and drawn in the book — included many which from this next-century perspective were too close to uncomfortable stereotypes.

  6. In sf circles – in which I know a few of the denizens here once operated, if no longer – the experience of the old character in lunarbaboon is basically that of sf fans re-reading a cherished cutting-edge future-looking book from childhood and discovering that it in the intervening decades it has weirdly been visited by the Suck (or Racism or Sexism) Fairy and now looks unbearably old-fashioned.

  7. In sf circles – in which I know a few of the denizens here once operated, if no longer

    Why, whatever do you mean?
    Signed, Carl “Winnipeg in 2023 Bid Committee” Fink

  8. In sf circles – in which I know a few of the denizens here once operated, if no longer

    Why, whatever do you mean?

    Signed, Denny “co-author of MIDWEST SIDE STORY and gag chairman of the Minneapolis in 1973 Bid Committee, once 1973 was safely in the past and sometime Minn-STF President” Lien

  9. Shrug is Denny Lien? That’s a name I recognize from the comments section of the Galactic Journey, to which I am a monthly contributor, reviewing IF every month.

    Anyway, a bunch of comics — mostly webcomics I think — have done variations on the observation in LunarBaboon. People have been noting this in particular about John Hughes films for a couple of years, but I suspect all the time spent in lockdown over the last year plus has led people to watching old fondly remembered films and being more than a little surprised and disturbed.

  10. Mitch4: I loved “The Twenty-One Balloons” as a child, and haven’t reread it since then, so I’m just gong to choose to assume that there’s nothing problematic in in. 😉

    For my money, the Newbery winner which has aged the worst is “Amos Fortune, Free Man,” about an African-American slave who earns his freedom. It goes to great effort to contrast him with the lazy slaves who aren’t willing to work hard. At one point his owner offers him his freedom, but Amos refuses, saying he doesn’t want handouts, he wants to earn it. The “handout” of not being a slave!

  11. I’ve been disappointed with how poorly a bunch of Stanislaw Lem’s work has aged. It’s not (mostly) the sexism or racism fairy, nor is that bureaucratic idiocy has gone away, it’s something like it functions differently in the internet era so everything seems dated.

  12. “… sf fans re-reading a cherished cutting-edge future-looking book from childhood and discovering that it in the intervening decades it has weirdly been visited by the Suck (or Racism or Sexism) Fairy and now looks unbearably old-fashioned.” — Sometimes, yes, but I’m currently rereading Doc Smith’s first Lensman book, for the first time in half a century, and loving it all over again.

    Meanwhile, in this collection, I do especially like the airline one and the Xylophone-sales one.

  13. zbicyclist –

    The concept of a movie about a young woman being groomed to be a ‘kept woman” (actual term I wanted has left my head) being the big movie to take young girls to see did not make sense once I understood what was going on. However as a 5 yo girl when I first saw it I did not understand any of the adult aspects of the movie – just that she was being matched up with the nephew of a friend of her grandmother’s. And it was my grandparents who took me to see it.

    One big difference with adult subjects back in the 1960s was there a major lack of the adult part of them compared to today’s movies.

  14. While in 6th grade I read “Gone with the WInd” and had to look up the word “rape” in the dictionary. Similarly that being the time of rather “free thinking” plays on Broadway, I often had to use the dictionary to look up what play reviews were talking about.

    ( I had learned the hard way not to ask my mom for the meaning of various terms which seemed to connected with sex after she drew a picture on the back cover of the TV Guide to explain to me what was done in circumscription and I had to look at the picture all week.)

  15. I saw Gigi with my parents at the drive-in. I was 7 and was totally bored by it. The only thing I remember is “Love is an ugly black cigar.” I recently listened to the soundtrack record and learned the line was “An ugly black cigar is love” which doesn’t change the meaning. I am as unimpressed by the record now as I was by the movie then.

  16. I do think one has to make allowances for social and cultural context in works of art, but one could say some things haven’t aged well. But maybe it actually means that WE have aged well, in that we’ve outgrown those bad ideas.

    I looked at a few old episode of MASH and the intense sexual harassment of every female character on the show was very cringe inducing. Animal House was considered a bit extreme when it came out, but its treatment of women really hasn’t held up well. And Revenge of the Nerds, a “wacky comedy” culminates in a rape by deception. Ha ha! Those are all kind of hard to take now.

    On the other hand, one of my favourite books, The Stars My Destination (aka Tiger, Tiger) contains a scene where the protagonist rapes a women whom he goes on to have a relationship with. I find that uncomfortable, but the character is portrayed as venal and base and it is a story about he completely transforms in character. So, it sort of makes sense for the character development, but…yeah, I can read it, but I don’t have to like that part.

    Blade Runner has what can be called a rape scene as well. Deckard forces himself on Rachel. So, disturbing. But, then, if she’s not human, is it rape? But I don’t think that was a question they were intending to raise.

  17. Yeah, I was dwelling on the MASH example recently, but in my case the movie, in the bit where they sing “Hail to the Chief” when Hawkeye is made chief surgeon, and the bit about, “Hail to his nurse, there to satisfy his urges” — ugh! What I was meditating on was the numerous iterations that had gone through, from the actual behavior of surgeons in Korea in 1950, to the recollections written down in a minorly bestselling book from the late 1960s, to a major movie of the 1970s, with the women’s lib movement getting under way, and they still chose to do it. Were they doing it ironically, historically, earnestly, or did they just think it was funny? MASH had some very weird and twisted up instincts in other ways, too: they tried to be progressive, yet it often was worse than if they had done nothing at all: they tried to introduce a Black doctor, but gave him a very racist epithet, and then removed him when actual research showed that there had actually been no Black doctors working in any MAS*H unit during the Korean war. And how must Alan Alda feel looking back on his portrayal of Hawkeye, harassing the nurses for laffs?

  18. It should be pointed out that in The Stars My Destination it’s made clear that the character suffered greatly from her attack. It’s wasn’t “oh, you devil you”.

  19. Brian in STL, I agree that it was handled with some nuance, and it was showing the selfishness of Gully Foyle and his lack of empathy. It is understandable in context but I expect that many modern readers wouldn’t make any allowances for any of that. But I think that’s more an indication of deficiencies in their education.

    larK, I’d argue that MASH was a ’60s movie. It was released in 1970 and “the sixties,” all that hippie, peace and love and Nixon and Vietnam stuff, really sort of ran from about 1965 to 1973/1974. And as such, being a war movie in the 1960s, it was really about Vietnam. When watching the TV show, I found my mind twisting itself around to try to figure out the sexual harassment. Was it supposed to be portraying how those characters would be acting in that time? In that time did the men need to be aggressive because the women expected as they did not want to seem easy? Or is it because early 70s audiences thought that was funny? I settled on the final one. At least it has the fact that it’s really old as a defence.

    More troubling is just how debased The Simpson’s became. Some say the shark was jumped with season 9 and I think it did go downhill after that, but Season 12, episode 5, when Homer is anally raped by a panda was a clear signal that this was no longer a show, however wacky, about a family that, despite its flaws, loved each other. That episode aired in 2000. The series became wacky hijinks and gags and seemed to be aping Family Guy. As I was out of the country after its first few seasons I have gradually been working through this backlog when I want something that isn’t mentally taxing and doesn’t require intelligence or emotional investment. I’m now into season 14, going slowly, and the number of homophobic gags and crude sexism is unpleasant. Also, I used to say that the fuss about Apu was overblown, as everyone on the show is a broad caricature and Apu might be the most admirable, decent characters. But in season 14 he is trying to trick people into adopting his children, rather than being the loving father he had been. So he’s certainly gotten lousier, but so has everyone else. So far, as this show gets newer, it gets cringier.

  20. Briefly, I would agree with SingaporeBill’s dates for “the sixties” in a cultural sense, and also note that the movie of MASH was very definitely felt by many to be “about” Vietnam in the obvious tho displaced sense.

  21. The protagonist of Stephen Donaldson’s LORD FOUL’S BANE also commits rape, but (in theory, I guess) the reader is encouraged to believe it doesn’t “count” as said protagonist (I refuse to bother to look up his name) believes he’s hallucinating his transition to a fantasy land, so since he thinks it’s all imaginary he can apparently do anything without “real” consequences. And that’s not even the second or third most irritating thing about the book. (I finished it only because I had foolishly brought no other book along during a lon car journey, and I have carefully avoided reading anything by Donaldson since.)

    Cerebus the Aardvark also sinks to rape, during the story cycle when he is the Pope (don’t ask…). His sense of morality will not allow him to boink Astoria, who relies on that to irritate him by tempting him as she’s chained up waiting for the Inquisition (don’t ask…). So he “solves” that by telling her that he is now marrying her (remember, he’s the Pope and can do things like that), has his way with her (and promptly falls asleep afterwards) and, when he wakes up, announces that he has just divorced her. (Cue mental image of Mel Brooks musing “It’s Good to be The Pope!”) Even writer Dave Sim, pressed on the point in the letter column, has to agree that in fact that constiuted rape and was a low point in the Aardvark’s saga.

  22. SingaporeBill: I too stopped watching the Simpsons for being out of the country, and I stopped somewhere around season 8. At some point I got the 20th or 25th season or so because it was in the library (it was the first one where they switched to wide-screen). I was working my way through them, and at some point we had friends over, and as usual I was in charge of entertaining the eight-year-old, because I’m basically an 8-year-old myself. So we were watching some of these episodes, and totally unprompted, she felt compelled to complain after two or three of them that “they weren’t as good as the ones on TV” (meaning the early season reruns she was used to watching). I always thought that was the ultimate indictment of the decline in quality, if even an 8 year old can see it….

  23. @Shrug,

    … The protagonist of Stephen Donaldson’s LORD FOUL’S BANE also commits rape, but (in theory, I guess) the reader is encouraged to believe it doesn’t “count” as said protagonist (I refuse to bother to look up his name) believes he’s hallucinating his transition to a fantasy land, so since he thinks it’s all imaginary he can apparently do anything without “real” consequences …

    I did finish the trilogy. Covenant is absolutely not excused for his crime. There are people in the story who never forgive him … including himself, once he is out of the literal delirium (caused by disease) he’s in at the moment of the rape.

  24. Lord Foul’s Bane was the first of the Thomas Covenant books. Again, I can understand the squickiness, but the attack on Lena is not a throwaway scene but a pivotal moment in the series. The people of the Land, who had looked on Covenant as a savior, are shocked and horrified by what he did. Lena is forever changed, going from a cheerful and helpful young woman to (as we find in the next book) a reclusive and childlike person. It’s a brutal event and has consequences that ripple throughout the series, including the birth of High Lord Elena, his daughter and the central figure of the second book. If you want to avoid brutal events, then this series is definitely not for you.

  25. Uhhh, yes I guess that Six Chix panel fits the theme — the speech bubble is almost literally a statement of it — but it doesn’t come anywhere near our extant discussion, which explored concrete examples and gave reasons. This cartoon is leaving it absolutely generic. I suppose there is humor-of-recognition if you’ve felt this reaction and come to the cartoon fresh.

  26. Now IDU the Six Chix panel. Why are modern-day lady in grayscale while the rest of the panel is in color? Is there some obvious reason for this that I just can’t see?

  27. That seems to be the drawing style hallmark of the Tuesdays Chick, Bianca Xunise. But it isn’t clear why, exactly.

  28. Mark in Boston – “A dirty black cigar is love” is what I remember – perhaps I will look for my LP if I get a chance – it must be in the basement shelves of LPs. I think it is a little girl’s movie on one level (as in not understanding completely what is going on with the storyline) and a grownup couples movie. My maternal grandparents took me to see it and after growing up and being able to follow what was actually going on I have to wonder about grandparents taking their granddaughter to see it. (Just had a thought and checked the year it was released – I am guessing my grandparents took me to see as my mom and dad were dealing with my new sister and them taking me to the movies gave parents some time without having to deal with me also.)

    But then again, as I recently said to Robert about some 1940s/50s movie we were watched on TV, it amazing that suggestive grownup subjects could be dealt with in a way that a child would have no idea of that part of the story or question what was going on due to the language used and the lack of showing suggestive things. Ladies are pregnant with no mention of how they got that way and then they have a baby with no mention of how they got it. Adult subjects just went over children’s heads back then due to the lack of detail about them.

  29. one of my favourite books, The Stars My Destination (aka Tiger, Tiger)

    One of my favorites too. I read one critic list it as the best SF novel of that era, and I saw Samuel R “Chip” Delany talk about it at a literary seminar, pointing out what maybe everybody but me already knew, that the story is based on “The Count of Monte Cristo”.

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