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Monday, October 31, 2011
Comic 971: Randall's Rants
Title: Alternative Literature; alt-text: I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying--it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.
Oh. My. Gosh. I don't know which to criticize first, the comic or the alt-text! This should even be a problem, because normally the two are at least somewhat related. Not this time!
Or, you know what, maybe they are. Maybe the comic is some sort of allegory about homeopathic medicine and how it's like reading blank books. But if that's the case, it needs a LOT of work, because no one's going to naturally assume that from context unless they've just read the alt-text (which makes a completely different point!)
See, until I read the alt-text (ironic, isn't it, that Randall adds novel-length alt-text in a comic about wordless books), I assumed he was just doing what he always does: setting up a strawman that doesn't exist and laughing at him. Look at it. Even the structure of the comic emphasizes just how clueless Randall is about what he's doing wrong. "Not true; there's some ink" and "a smudge" are completely useless to the point the character is making. Guy 1 says something. Guy 2 argues a different point. It's a perfect metaphor for today's update, if Guy 1 is the alt-text and Guy 2 is the the strip itself.
Is this making any sense? Well, at least it can't make any less sense than Comic 971. I mean, I've spent three paragraphs (coming up on four) ranting about this strip and I haven't even addressed its subject matter yet! That's bad, folks.
Look, the joke here is friggin' simple. "All your books are blank!" "My mind makes the books, and I refuse be a part of a system that says otherwise. I'm no sucker." "And you paid how much for these?" I can't stand xkcd, and even I smiled at the "Who sold you all these blank books?" line. You know why? Because that's the punch line! That's the joke! We don't need all these other panels of pointless dialogue!
Image by SinbadEV
But Randall's not content to ruin his comic with an awful setup and a too-delayed punchline. Oh no. Nope, he has to get on one of his, "Boy, people are stupid, and companies just take advantage of them. It's too bad they're not as smart as me" high horses. Carl from xkcdsucks (the original blog; remember when it wasn't awful?) said all there is to say about this sort of thing, so I'll just link to his rant here. In short, it says that people aren't stupid, they know that just because you put two different things together they aren't the same thing, and Randall's a complete douchebag for assuming otherwise.
I dunno, maybe I'm tired and hopped up on pain pills. If I'm missing some deeper point here, someone please tell me. Until then, I'm going to believe that this is just an awful, awful strip, and one of the worst Randall's done in recent memory.
P.S. I was in such disbelief when I read the alt-text, I actually screenshotted it in case Randy changes it. It's just...what was he thinking??