Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Monday, April 30, 2012

1049: Pot, meet kettle

Alt-text: I had a hard time with Ayn Rand because I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with the first 90% of every sentence, but getting lost at 'therefore, be a huge asshole to everyone.'

Before I get to today's abomination, let me just quickly address the last comic: Boo hoo cancer. Who even cares at this point?

Today's comic is horrible in all aspects, except maybe that it has decently drawn bookcases. First, it's an Ayn Rand bashing, so another reference that's late by, uh, lemme see... *A quick Google search later* HALF A CENTURY??? Geez, talk about dated. Also, way to go after the easy target, Randy. This is why you haven't grown as a creator.

So what exactly is happening in the strip? I can see that the guy tries to take Atlas Shrugged from a bookshelf, but it spins around like one of those secret passages in ye olden movies to show him a very special message. Makes sorta sense, I guess, but why does he keep holding the book? Does the bookcase just spin 360° in a single motion or does it stop on the other side to let the guy read the message on the wall? If so, does it spin back again by itself, or does he have to pull on the book again? Oh, and that's a very smooth transition between the third and fourth panel. Okay, I guess I'm just nitpicking here, but details like these really kept me from understanding what was exactly going on here for a while, and that's bad when this is not even the main focus of your strip.

Also, way to pick on people, who want to buy the book for any reason that is not "I like Ayn Rand's books". For instance, they can buy it because they want to know what the big fuss is all about, or because they want to review or analyze it. But I guess the reason just doesn't matter. If you buy Atlas Shrugged, you have a terrible taste (almost sounds like a review Randall would actually write).

The alt-text, oh man, way to call the kettle black, pot. ("Ooh my god, T-Jack, you said black, you're racist!" No. Fuck you.) Because, you know, it's not like Randall has ever needed a reason for being a complete and utter douchebag before, right? (That's probably not the best example I could've used, but eh, I'm too lazy to look for a better one.)

Now that I think about it, this comic isn't that horrible, it's merely bad and stupid. Randall fails hard to stay topical and offer any new argument to the Ayn Rand debate, or rather, any argument at all. For any criticism to have any real weight, you need to say what exactly is right or wrong with the criticized work and then support it with evidence taken from said work, you can't jump straight to the rating. Of course, this strip isn't about that, it's just about a new and wacky way to shame fans of a bad book. And I guess that's why I hate it so much.


  1. I thought the golden standard for Randall-being-an-asshole is the "all liberal arts majors are idiots" comic, or ten.

  2. First off... The gag here should be the bookshelf... the book shouldn't matter so choosing a work universally reviled by his audience would serve to de-emphasize that aspect of the comic... so, Panel 1 should be some low hanging fruit like Twilight* or Dianetics or "Python For Dummies**"...

    Panel 4 is garbage... he could have left it off entirely and the joke would actually worked better.

    * Note that I don't mind that Twilight was popular... anything that tricks people into reading *something* at all is better then them not reading at all... unless it's Dianetics. I'm just saying that I think you could safely assume that XKCD fans would understand the basic premise of "terrible book" if you mentioned Twilight.

    ** In the case of "Python For Dummies" the wall would have had a joke about how there is no such thing and the alt-text would have been a bitingly sarcastic programming joke... or there could have been a Python waiting in the secret chamber...


  3. Imagine the book is trade of xkcd if that makes you feel better.

    1. Hah, I had the same idea when I was writing this review, but I guess I had no way of including it. Well, maybe someone less unable to use image editing software could do an edit?

  4. Atlas Shrugged is basically the same thing as Dianetics. I haven't read either, but the followers of Ayn Rand don't seem much different than Scientologists. Normally I wouldn't care, but the right wing of the Republican party likes to cite Ayn Rand as being a huge influence when they try to pass legislation that says that all poor people should go F themselves. So, funny or not, this is not 50 years late. It is topical and I read it as political satire. Of course, this only works if you have the association of Ayn Rand and right wing A-holes in your mind, which I do.

    Readers of xkcd from outside the US are going to have a difficult time with Randall's vaguely political comics. The analysis of the Mitt Romney/Choc Factory comic whiffed pretty bad and that was much more straightforward.

    Anyway, I always consult xkcd-sucks after xkcd. Keep up the good work.

    1. I based the "dated reference" line based on the year when the book first came out, and I guess I didn't really expect it to be as influential to modern politics based on what little I've heard about it. Oh well, the things you learn when you bitch and moan about not being as smart and awesome as a popular webcomic writer (hi, trolls).

      I have to admit, though, that part of the problem is that I don't really like to discuss politics - makes me feel dirty for some reason - so I try to avoid that edge. So when I'm reviewing a political cartoon (unlikely, but given Randall's record, never impossible), I try to stick to things that I know for sure (all five or so of them) and avoid the rest. I guess that is how I'd justify myself.

      All in all, though, thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it.