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Friday, March 9, 2012
1027: The Hat in the Hat
Alt-text: Son, don't try to play 'make you feel bad' with the Michael Jordan of making you feel bad.
Did you know that there are these men who call themselves "pickup artists"? What these guys do is that they go to bars and use these methods to, y'know, pickup women, and it apparently works. This is of course very offensive and so Randall, a self-admitted feminist, simply had to address it in his comic. He of course did it about 7 years late (as a quick Google search tells me that the term has "entered the popular lexicon in 2005").
The topic is handled with the usual grace and subtlety we've come to expect from xkcd, so the comic's target is presented as a run-of-the-mill loser who only knows the "art" from reading about it on an internet forum and who backs off immediately after being "confronted" "with" "the" "sad" "truth" "about" "his" "pitiful" "existence". So, you know, like every other man in xkcd-land except Mr. Hat and Beret Guy.
Oh, and don't get me started on Mr. Hat. Whoops, nevermind, too late. Mr. Hat's presence in this strip is totally pointless, and in fact uncovers another glaring flaw of xkcd's premise as a stick webcomic. You see, because nobody has any distinguishing body features in xkcdland, except for women's hair and, well, their sudden human anatomy when viewed from close up as evidenced in The Strip We Don't Talk About, the only way we can recognize recurring characters is via external characteristics. For some it is their headwear, like the Beret Guy's beret, or Mr. Hat's, well, you know. Mr. Hat's girlfriend, though, has no such thing, therefore the comic needed to waste a whole panel extablishing that it was in fact her. That's right, Mr. Hat has become his girlfriend's hat. And the worst part is, this whole ordeal actually has no point to it, since when it comes to being asked out, all xkcdland's women are pretty much like this. The only reason why it needs to be this particular character is for the alt-text to make sense, and it sucks anyway.
The reason why I'm writing this, though, is because it directly ties into one topic that I'd wanted to discuss for a while in a separate post (and didn't do because that would basically be emulating the non-hyphenated blog's "Rob's Rants"), which is xkcd's almost complete lack of both style and substance. The reason why I said "almost" is that the comic sometimes contains both hints of style, like the recent 1021, and substance, which is actually present in today's comic.
You see, the comic could be vastly improved by cutting out all the stupid pickup artist crap and only leaving the fourth panel in, and maybe changing the Girlfriend's dialogue into something more appropriate. The reason is that this panel, and this panel only, contains some worthwhile substance - character building. It offers us a sample of how Mr. Hat and the Girlfriend spend their free time. Plus it's a classic Mr. Hat moment.
I know it sounds stupid to talk about character development in such a plotless comic, but don't you think that it would make xkcd better? I do.