Cindy was the most popular, so she gets to talk about getting left out TWICE. Or we’re supposed to interpret the start of this interminable pity party on Tuesday as a private conversation between Funky and Cindy, and thus she warrants a second confession to the entire group. Continue reading
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Roland was an anti-establishment activist. Of course he didn’t feel a part of things in high school. I suppose we can read this as Roland feeling alienated even before, and choosing an identity in the counter-culture that justified those feelings.
At least by talking about prior ‘protests’ and ‘anger’ Rolanda has made her line specific to her, so she’s leaps and bounds ahead of Crazy and Funky this week. But Batiuk is just writing her saying this because he wants to let his new trans character talk one more time before this arc ends and she disappears forever.
It’s Derek who’s giving me a chuckle today. He gets one word. One word this whole year. “Seriously?”
I’m guessing that this was intended by the author to reference the one or two strips where he felt ‘alienated’ by his race. He was one of a few black students in a mostly white school. So obviously (sarcasm) asking him if he felt left out is silly.
But I am invoking Death of the Author.
Because Derek is the embodiment of ‘Seriously?’ As in, “Why do I exist in this asinine universe surrounded by stupid, unfunny, jokes?”
Every time he would stare out at the audience, it was like a cry for help through the crack in the Fourth Wall. He had this air of resigned desperation. I imagine you would get a similar expression if Charles Dance was sent to a hell populated entirely by Teletubbies.
And so when Derek today says, “Seriously?” I don’t hear, “Yes, of course I felt like an outsider.”
I hear, “Seriously? Seriously? It’s been 50 years! I hardly even remember high school. Why did I even come to this? Why did I bother to bring the ultrasound picture of my great-grandson? Or the photos of my granddaughter getting her doctorate? Why did I bother looking any of these chucklefucks up on Facebook to see what they’ve been up to. I came all prepared to talk about Les’ movie getting an Oscar. Cindy’s work on BuddyBlog. What it was like being stuck in LA for the fires. Funky’s punk son finally making an honest woman of that poor pretty army chick. Holly’s biography on being a majorette. Rolanda’s work counselling the families of senior gender transitioners. Maybe share some memories of Bull and Mary Sue, since this is our first reunion without them. But naw, I shoulda known better. These assholes are just gonna stand in a row all facing the same way, like they’re posing for a picture no one is gonna take, and pass the same damn sentence down the line in the world’s most half-assed game of telephone. Fuck these cookie-cutter punch-outs all thinking they’re a special snowflake. If they’re not all dead by the next reunion, I’m not coming. I was hoping to talk to Barry Balderman and Carrie and Melissa, maybe catch up with Wanda, but naw. They were too smart for this shit. I mean. Seriously?”
“At least Les didn’t have a pity party over his dead wife again.”
Speaking of Les! Here’s some more writing advice from the past! Brought to you by the world’s least prolific biographer.
We Are The Son of Stuck Funky Admiration Affiliate
Preserving the old strips from being abused
Protesting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do?
Crazy Harry was never part of the ‘In-Crowd’? GASP! I don’t believe it. (sarcasm)
Crazy Harry noticed or cared enough to feel excluded? I don’t believe it. (not-sarcasm)
He could barely tell that Mr. Mathews openly despised him.
Crazy was so weird that he bent reality around himself. And he didn’t seem to notice how strange it was.
And yet, he was voted Student Council President in an election against Mr. Mean, Median, and Mode himself. So his weirdness notwithstanding, he must have been liked well enough.
50 years later, Crazy Harry is barely wacky enough to wear a Hawaiian shirt to his reunion. And his line today could have been spouted by anyone in attendance. In fact, it already HAD BEEN. TWICE. In order to get his anemic little point across, Tom will let Harry rag on high school now as if it wasn’t a decent time for him, that he reminisced on fondly just earlier THIS YEAR.
Banana Jr put in wonderfully in the comments yesterday.
It’s not exactly The Breakfast Club, is it? Those were different characters who each, in their own way, learned that they had some things in common. This is like watching Twelve Angry Men, if they all agreed he’s guilty in the first minute and spend two hours telling each other how right they all are.
I’ve complained about it before. I will complain about it again. But the hollow sameness of every character cripples this strip in ways I don’t think Batiuk realizes. You ever buy a danish, or a jelly doughnut, and when you bite into it you realize that all the filling has been baked out? That’s an Act III Funky Winkerbean character. Bland, flakey, overcooked yet doughy. And completely empty inside.
When poking around the Toledo Blade Microfiche, looking for when Cindy first hit it off with Funky, I stumbled across a hilarious and yet infuriating week.
Les teaches Sadie Summers STORY WRITING.
Ah, Tom’s a writer and Tom is bold
Tom is bolder than the writers of old
But whenever he gets in a bit of a jam
There’s nothing he won’t do to let Harry rag
Harry rag, Harry rag
Do anything just to let Harry rag
And he curses himself for the life he’s led
And writes himself a Harry rag and puts himself to bed
Ah, Tom’s old Lisa is a dying lass
Soon they all reckon she’ll be pushing up the grass
And her bones might ache and her skin might sag
But still she’s got the strength to let Harry rag.
Quick! The most popular and objectively successful member of the class has admitted they never felt like they fit in! Everyone must fall in line behind her and parrot her sentiments! This will prove how alienated and apart from things they all were!
This would almost be a joke. If the idea that “Les was a dork in school” hadn’t been hammered home so many times the nail is halfway to China, and they’re using a percussive drilling machine with 2000 feet of rod to reach the punchline.
What even does ‘In-Crowd’ mean? In my experience, you want your circle of friends to share your interests and enjoy the same things. A chess club nerd is going to be lost and bored at a football kegger. The kids I knew in high school that were miserable were either the ones that faked their way into a clique that didn’t really suit them, or the poor kids who never found a niche no matter how small.
But Funky was considered perfectly acceptable in High School. Neither the most popular, nor the least.
‘Average’ is the first bit of characterization Funky was given, and as far as I can see it held true through 20 years of high school. You’ve got to give him some credit for keeping Les as his best friend, since nothing probably dragged him down Cindy’s popularity rankings more than having human tumor Les Moore clinging to his side.
I would say that Funky should let Les speak on what it really felt like to be excluded in high school. Since if anyone has a right to speak on the topic it is him.
But I bet Funky and crew remember Les’ self-righteous downer of a commencement speech and rightfully figured the less he said on the topic the better.
Wanda has been smart enough to NEVER attend a reunion following the 2008 fiasco. But really she should have known what she was in for, since Cindy showed up at her door in 2004 to for an entire week of groveling. Something I only found after my Wanda retrospective back in March.
After a week of Holly being cripplingly insecure, she now is trying to infect others with her self-doubt.
Cindy is a good call to try and make self-conscious. Her entire tenure as character, Cindy has been consistently portrayed as brimming with self-confidence ONLY when arbitrary ‘success’ conditions she’s built up in her mind have been met. She’s like a popularity Pharisee, as long as she’s safely within the Talmud of Flawlessness, she’s a self-righteous zealot.
But you take her ONE INCH from the straight and narrow, and she collapses. And this was worse when she was younger. When not having a date for New Year’s Eve had her hiding out at McArnolds with LES MOORE, because it broke some unwritten mental rule of hers.
And she has a history of jealousy when it comes to her romantic partners.
But yes. Cindy’s jealousy. Maybe not completely misplaced when it came to Funky and Rachel.
But, of course, she’s also been jealous of Masonee Jarree.
But it is LAUGHABLE that Cindy would be jealous of the Westview Women Lumps on display today. Marianne and Rachel were both women YOUNGER than her and lauded as attractive. Cindy is still miles above anyone else female at the reunion. Even with the crippling scoliosis she’s been stricken with in panel 1.
This, this is the ultimate power FANTASY. Parading your delicious arm candy to all the dowdy hausfraus in Ohio. Beneficently allowing all the ugly old geese a moment to pose with your prize.
I mean, who could be jealous of ‘scribbles’ and ‘Jan’? Who even is Jan?
Is she some late Act I graduate I’m unfamiliar with? Why not Cindy’s old wingwoman, Carrie?
Or Les’ senior prom date, Melissa.
Because the only Act I Jan I can think of is Ladies Club, Rap Cellar, Jan. As in Jan and Marcia.
So that is my headcanon now. These two ladies posing with Masone are Marcia and Jan. They crashed the reunion in order to meet a movie star. They’re a good 8-10 years older than everyone else, but everyone is so dumpy looking no-one can tell.
Did you guys enjoy this gripping, emotional, and politically charged tale which really challenged our main characters leading to growth and change that will really shake things up going forward?
(Seriously, tomorrow is Cindy and Holly.)
Oh, I ‘member.
I’m starting to get kinda paranoid, guys. I’m starting to feel like Batiuk IS reading this blog. That he reads it, and then changes continuity or characters just to troll us. He saw my jokey headcanon that Roland became a conservative hardware store owner, and had to kick back against my fantasy of responsible small business success and respect for the establishment by inserting the character into a hot button political issue.
I had to fumigate and dissect a political hornets’ nest on my last shift. I’m in no mood to kick this one. I eagerly look forward to all of you in the comments respectfully discussing with each other the artistic merits of this decision and tearing Batiuk a new one. Remember the site rules.
Whatever our diverse views, we can all agree that Batiuk is mostly doing this because he lazily looked through the Overton Window and realized he could bring up a topic that would get him possible cheers from the people he loves to get cheered by and maybe even jeers from the people he gets off on hating.
Some context for your discussion. I don’t have anything concrete I’m trying to say with these. Just some stuff that’s weird to read with the new retcon in mind.
I stared at today’s strip for hours. Trying to decide if I was amused, offended, or bored.
On the one hand, valued commenter The Dreamer foresaw this strip yesterday.
I’m waiting for Cindy to show up. At the 50 year reunion, standing with all her old geezer classmates, still looking 25 years old with her great body and younger movie star boyfriend Mason Jarr…..
And I’m getting sick of Holly Budd Winkerbean being so mopey and self-conscious. A single strip of it is relatable, a week of it is exhausting.
On the other hand, it’s at least a structured joke. Again, the nature of my own parents’ relationship skews how I’m seeing things. They tease each other mercilessly. My mom once joked that my dad was going to leave her for his old college girlfriend, and my dad just scoffed.
“It would take too long to train someone else.”
And they laughed, sitting in their cluttered dining room wearing sweatpants and baggy t-shirts, sipping coffee from out-of-season Christmas mugs that never got put away. They were both in on the joke, that learning to put up with someone new, a whole new set of pet peeves, failings, wants, and triggers would be too exhausting. And beneath the ribbing is always the stubborn kind of unconditional love that has them picking ditch side tiger lilies and cooking enough pot roast to last a week because they know that’s just the thing to make the other smile.
But when I peeled the lens of my own experience away, I was lost. My sense of objectivity completely wrecked. I was seeing, but I had completely lost the ability to understand.
So I asked some of my normie friends. All women between 29 and 40. Some single, some in relationships. None with kids. People who know of Funky Winkerbean, and this blog, because of me ranting at them. But not people who could tell a Jessica from a Mindy at 100 paces. I sent them today’s strip and just said.
PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS STRIP. Positive, negative, neutral, confused, whatever I just want some normie outsider perspective on it.
- “It feels like he’s making like a lame mid-90s, sitcom joke about how women are difficult. Because two wives would be double the nagging and emotions or something?”
- “ahem Wifey here is exhibiting a behavior promoted by our culture where women are encouraged to fight or tear each other down because #thepatriarchy. She is heckin intimidated by Cindy and is asking for reassurance from hubby. Hubby, instead of giving her blind reassurance that he only has eyes for wifey, ~apparently~ gives the wrong answer. – Signed, the token liberal (What this means coming from this comic in particular heckin idk.)
- “I am now overthinking it. I think my initial thought was “I’m not sure I get the joke.” Upon further reflection, It is hard to say if he was going for ha ha two wives how silly or a sweet I’d have always have fallen in love with you sentiment. I’m going to be charitable and say he was going for sweet & snarky.”
- “Blah. That’s my reaction to this. Just blah. If my partner said that to me, I’d feel pretty gross about the relationship.”
- “If he’s fully joking, man is he playing with fire. Let’s reverse the roles. Husband is all “Man Steve is looking like a million bucks today. Do you still wish you were married to Steve?” And then wife says: “Don’t be silly! Then I’d have two husbands!” I don’t think husband would appreciate that response.”
- “Side note, I do think him saying “well then I’d have two wives” might be an attempt to poke fun at her for even asking about wishing he was still married to Cindy. It’s pretty lame, but it somehow has the same energy as five-year-old me asking my Dad how he did something that, at the time, seemed incredible but wasn’t really. He’d always tell me that he was a wizard.”
- “The second thing is that some of the guys I dated in Utah always liked to float the idea of having more than one wife.”
- “Based on everything I have ever heard about Utah this, somehow, super doesn’t surprise me? God, why is Utah so weird.”
- “Also also. Because apparently I’m not done yet, damn you. Like, look at this face.”
- “It is quite a face. Little dots for eyes. But like for me, in a way, her comment kind of comes off as more casual? I don’t think she’s fussed specifically about Cindy.”
- “But also I can see the 50th anniversary banner for the reunion in the background. Which just makes Cindy seem more jarring to me, considering the subject matter. Because they’re all pushing into their 70s at least. Which means Cindy has one hell of an exercise routine and a love for Botox, probably. Which, you know. Bodybuilding grandmas are a thing.”
- “Side note – it’s kind of funny to me that big Hollywood stars like Cindy and Mason Jar would care to kick it back to podunk small town whereveritisville for a high school reunion. Iunno. Maybe it’s just because I’ve never made it to a reunion myself and the last one they tried to put together fell apart because no one was gonna show up.”
So, there you have it. Some normie opinions on today. As close as we can get to that hypothetical newspaper reader who occasionally catches a strip or two while flipping through the paper. The only thing skewing the sample is that all of my friends are just as into hyper-analyzing media as we are here. You give us something to dissect and we start gleefully pinning it down and pulling the wings off.
But what do THE EXPERTS think?
I’m eager to find out.
Today’s strip recalls one of the very last things that ever appeared in Act I… and uses it to mourn the death of print media? Look, I dunno what’s going on in the last panel, but I can tell you what happened in flashback panels.
After bumming everyone out with his awful valedictorian speech, Les just… hung out in the auditorium until everyone left, sulking in the unfulfillment of getting a high school diploma.
Then he headed out to the “Student Council Graduation Party” in the middle school gym, as seen in today’s flashback, finding the place deserted aside from Coach Stropp.
Why was the Student Council Graduation Party a dumb idea? Why was the party deserted?
Yep, Cindy held a huge graduation party at the mall that everybody attended… including MTV VJ Karen “Duff” Duffy and some poor souls who entered an MTV contest to win a free trip to Westview.
Les, however, sat in the middle school gym with his free copy of the yearbook, reminiscing about the good times he had with his friends in high school rather than going and actually spending time with him. After a week’s worth of strips of this, Act II began…
I do not know if next week will time warp us into Act IV or not, but I do know I will be leaving this site in the skilled hands (and mind) of ComicBookHarriet. Godspeed.
The absolute bottom of the outtakes folder has been reached…or has it? I mean egads, man. Talk about a lifeless outing. There’s nowhere left to go from here aside from “equally stupid”…ideally, that is.
Stay tuned for a SPECIAL GUEST SUNDAY POST!!! Then I’ll be back for another thrilling week of, well, you know.