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CSotD: Friday Funnies Celebrates the Ridiculous

I don’t do a lot with comic books, but I’ll happily refer you to this Comicsbeat article about the original Fantastic Four, because it explains why in a charmingly roundabout way.

Everything about Fantastic Four is ridiculous. Deliciously ridiculous. If you’re wondering how four people got such dramatically different super powers from the same incident, the answer is simply “mysterious cosmic rays”. Don’t overthink it. Once the group is bathed by the cosmic rays in their tragic space accident, it takes no more than three pages for them to assess their new abilities, decide to form a super team, and head out to Monster Isle to battle their first nemesis. And it’s balls to the wall ridiculousness from there on.

Exactimundo.

I was 11 years old when Fantastic Four debuted. Comic books were an important part of leisure time at Camp Lord O’ The Flies, and, at 11, ridiculous superheroes were just fine.

That is, I kind of knew it was goofy, but, then again, it was a comic book. It was supposed to be goofy. It would be several years before I would discover Turgenev or Virginia Woolf and I wasn’t looking for deep insights into the human condition.

And, just a guess, but I suspect comic books by Virginia Woolf would suck, and, while Faulkner and Fitzgerald and a few other literary giants took a stab at screenwriting in Hollywood, most of their work either ended up in the trash or had to be rewritten by people with a better sense of the ridiculous. (More on that at the end of the blog. Don’t go away.)

Spidey tapped into some more serious psychology than FF, and that critic is right to point out the utter absurdity of the entire ensemble, though I enjoyed the back-and-forth between Johnny and Ben.

Marvel characters also hurled quips at their enemies in the midst of battle, and my young self liked the idea of being so powerful that you could fight mighty giants and have the presence of mind to piss them off at the same time.

There was a point where I’d outgrown comics, and I don’t remember there being many of them in the cabin when we were all 14, which was the year I read “The Sword in the Stone” and “Tale of Two Cities,” both of them ridiculous in their own way, though only TH White was doing it on purpose.

Later, when I came back to comics, I was aghast to find that they were trying to take things seriously, and I say “trying” because they were so bad at it. They’d gone from having ridiculous characters to having ridiculous writing, and that’s not at all the same thing.

Which is perhaps why I enjoy the original Star Trek, where a phaser hit on the Enterprise tilts the camera and sends everyone rapidly tippy-toeing sideways across the set, and where alien planets are composed of Nerf rocks and Astroturf. I can’t get behind the sequels, in which I feel like they want me to take them seriously.

Hey, I’m just a ridiculous guy. Your mileage may vary, but I’ll bet it’s not as much fun.

 

And it takes a good sense of the ridiculous to appreciate this Off the Mark, which takes a pompous claim and ties it into a ridiculous pun by means of a ridiculous drawing.

I say “pompous” because I understand the outrage over waste when buffalo hunters slaughtered bison but took only their hides and tongues, leaving the rest to rot on the prairies.

But the counterclaim that the Indians used every part of the buffalo is also ridiculous. They had a use for every part of the buffalo, true, and they were far less wasteful than the buffalo hunters, but they certainly didn’t reduce every beast in a buffalo jump to every one of those uses.

Though it’s important to note that wealthy Indians passed along the things they didn’t need to less fortunate band members, so that, if someone had a functional tepee cover, they might make a new one and donate their current one.

The notion that technical advancement makes one group more civilized than another being a pretty ridiculous notion, only not the funny kind of ridiculous.

It’s also pretty ridiculous to plumb such a silly cartoon for such deep meaning.

 

David Horsey‘s reflections on social media are a more appropriate target for deep thoughts about ridiculous people.

I like the masks, because one thing I’ve learned in life is that Halloween parties are more likely to get out of control than other types of parties, and I’m quite sure it’s because when we don costumes, we give ourselves permission to abandon our actual personalities.

So, if you think of social media as one gigantic, continuous Halloween party, it all makes sense.

 

Edison Lee contemplates it all from a different point of view, and I laft because I’ve thought about getting on Instagram from time to time, and I know that hipsters consider Twitter to be over, but I also know that traffic and likes and follows can be as ridiculous as anything else.

Back when I was on my own website and would track hits, I’d occasionally find some enormous bulge, traceable to someone on Reddit stumbling across a cartoon.

But it came, and it went, and I never saw any increase once it was gone.

In real estate, such people are known as “Looky-Loo’s,” who come to open houses out of curiosity with no intent of buying the property and probably no possibility of qualifying for the loan anyway.

 

Finally, Pardon My Planet offers what seems to be a reference to my very favorite scene in all of filmdom, a delightfully ridiculous fantasy sequence from “8 1/2” in which Guido imagines living in a big house with all his ex-lovers.

Roger Ebert wrote

I suspect some ad writer for Progressive Insurance also admires this scene.

First, theirs:

 

Then, the original.

Compare and contrast. I couldn’t find a good cut with subtitles, but it’s perfectly ridiculous without them.

Community Comments

#1 Sean Martin
June/7/2019
@ 6:13 am

I was rolling when I first saw that Progressive commercial, and my friends looked at me like I was nuts. “What the heck was that?”

You just cannot explain that kind of thing to anyone……..

#2 Robert Paige
June/9/2019
@ 8:58 pm

There was a What If..? issue that showed whoat would happen if they all got the same power. I have no recollection of what happened in the Thing and Mr. Fantastic sections, but the Human Torch segment ended in tragedy (the team splits after a mission goes bad) and, for some reason, the Invisible team were all SHIELD field agents.

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