Fear and loathing in suburbia

I gave a talk this morning about the MATLAB Profiler at the Applied Behavioral Analysis Convention (see the listing here). In order to explain how profiling code works, I wanted one of those Family Circus cartoons where little Jeffy goes wandering all over the neighborhood. I thought I’d find them all over the net, but I only found one. I guess the Family Circus lawyers have been doing their work. For the purposes of my talk, though, this was just fine.

The Family Circus is as lame a comic as you are likely to ever run across. Even so, I was surprised by the depth of the hatred that exists for it out there. In my search for the “real” images of cute li’l Jeffy and Billy, I came across dozens and dozens of anti-Family Circus sites. After a while, I started to have more respect for FC creator Bil Keane. He clearly knows exactly how to poke a sharp stainless steel dental tool into the receding gumlines of Goth punks all across the country. To inspire that kind of loathing is no small achievement. Go Bil!

Anyway, my favorite anti-FC site was over at the Progressive Boink. This is the kind of critique I enjoy. Instead of saying Family Circus = LAME, he really deconstructs it. For instance:

In the comic presented here, Billy explains that he is “mousebreaking” Jeffy. Perhaps Billy meant to say “housebreaking,” because “mousebreaking” is not a word. But even if he did spell “housebreaking” right, it doesn’t make any sense, because Billy is teaching Jeffy to use a mouse, not a toilet.

The great thing about pop culture is that if you love it, then you love it, and if you hate it, then you can sit around and talk about why the hell so many people love it. Either way is a win.