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).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Comic 631: The Idolatry of Flesh

Comic title: Anatomy Text

Alt text: For many of the anatomy pictures on Wikipedia, I think this is actually not far from reality. They only look all formal and professional due to careful cropping.

Gentlemen, I have been waiting a long time to review this comic. Number 631 represents a turning point in Xkcd's history. It may have introduced a great many of you to the hate community in the first place. Not since CADbortion has an online comic been so divisive, so polarising, so worthy of hate. We may never see another one like it.

And let me begin by saying I don't hate it at all. I think it is fucking brilliant. Many other Xkcds have been about witty little conversations with Black Hat, about computers and people's opinions, and they are boring as fuck. THIS show us what Xkcd is capable of. Here is an Xkcd that is not afraid to take risks. This will be remembered as a true classic, because just one time, Randall was able to throw off all his pseudo-intellectual pretensions about being a webcomic artist and draw a cartoon vagina.

What is the problem here? That he drew a vagina? Feh! Vaginas are part of the human body. If you're not lucky enough to have one between your legs, then you have a schmeckel, which is arguably worse. My point being that people are only offended by these parts because they're not used to seeing them, because they are offended by them, etc, etc. Thank the lord Randall had the schmutz to try and break us out of this vicious cycle. Otherwise God forbid, we wouldn't be allowed to show pictures of genitals to our children.

Randall gets a rare A* grade from me for genuine subversion. Let's explore that subversion in more detail, shall we? In panel one we are shown a well-composed portrait of the human bosoms. I say bosoms, but it is only the right one. Is the left one even there? The suspense is spine-tingling. We shall have to wait till the next panel to find out.

We never do see the left bosom. What we do see is jaw-droppingly detailed depiction of Megan's vagina (vulva to use the correct term). Words fail to describe it. This is perhaps the best artwork I have seen in an Xkcd to date. A* for artwork, Randall. You thoroughly deserved it.

After this roller-coaster ride of exposed parts, what do we expect for the next two panels? The captions would have us believe they depict penises, in both flaccid and erect states. Are they two different penises, or the same penis at different points in time? Is it circumcised?? We may never know, because our anatomical crusade is cut short by a voice off-camera telling us that "You can't do that in here." truly the villain of the piece.

Our expectations are fully subverted when it is revealed that our disrobed heroes are in fact taking photos of themselves in a crowded restaurant. This is made all the more astonishing by the fact that the details around the photos and the captioning in the first few panels build our expectations that they are in a more controlled studio setting. But Randall and Megan are true risk-takers, and they are not afraid to create art that offends people, both in the sense of the in-story production of the nude photos, and the real life production of the comic. A** for subversion of expectations, on both levels of fiction.

My only problem here is that Randall does not draw the male member. Rather, he shies away from depicting nudity of both genders. A- for equal gender representation. Why did I not give him a worse grade? Because he gives us the next best thing. He lets us imagine it ourself. I have sometimes heard it said that the most powerful Xkcds are ones that you can imagine yourself (to quote Luggage: "It's in my head.") However, that is mostly a flimsy excuse for lack of artwork. In this case however, it is a perfectly valid reason, because you are totally imagining Randall's dick in the third and fourth panels without even trying to. Don't pretend you aren't.

Randall continues to show us that he is a master of suspense by covering up the nude stick figure in the final panel. This leads us to question the very nature of the comfortable reality that is Xkcd. Are all stick figures nude? We have certainly learned that they are anatomically correct. And that is a very important thing to learn. Remember that it may be Xkcd readers' first time seeing the female anatomy. This comic fulfils an important duty of guiding those individuals towards sexual awakening, which is an important, nay essential, step towards growing up. This comic is in many ways an expression of what we are and who we can be when we become adults. A******++++ for helping us to grow up.

Thank you, so much to Anon 12:13 for requesting this review. I hope it was to your satisfaction. I don't want this blog to become an echo chamber, so I fully invite you to share your own opinions in the space below. You are allowed to disagree. Just know that if you do so, then you are a prude.

Say hi to me on Twitter while you're at it.

By the way, if you got fired for reading this at work, then you fucking deserved it.


  1. I have just noticed that the page view graph covers the clitoris. That means every time you view Xkcd-sucks, you tickle Megan's clitoris.

  2. I'm the anon who used to ruthlessly rail you for your fucking ignorance everywhere.
    Well kudos Jon, I tip my hat at you. You made me laugh a few times in this review, and gave me new perspective on life. I shall not be unsubscribing after all.
    - YP

  3. Replies
    1. You know sometimes I wish your comment would be more than just a number. It's like you're not even trying to please me.

  4. 1325: Randall finally jumps on board the "lol nice guys are actually jerks" train. In a strange bit of dualism, he simultaneously attempts to subvert the accusations that he is a "white knight" by mocking so-called "nice guys," while engaging in flagrant white-knighting to do so.

    Maybe Randall is looking to effect a demographic shift in his readership. He wants to cash in on that sweet, sweet Tumblr Social Justice Warrior demographic, though with this comic he risks strongly alienating his current fanbase, which I estimate to consist of about 50% misguided young men and 50% loveshys.

    1. Nah. Randall has courted with this subject matter before. Remember 531 with the nice guy friend that everyone said was creepy? My reasoning is this: Randall has an overbearing superego that compels him to hate himself. However, he also thinks of himself a 'nice guy'. The way his brain resolves the contradiction is to assert that nice guys are secretly shmendriks. His fans will assume it isn't directed at them personally, because they only see what they want to see.

      As for his demographic, I don't think Randall really cares. All he knows is that everyone is an Xkcd fan, because that is the echo chamber he surrounds himself with. And he had no problem with preaching to them.

  5. I wonder if TGI Friday's paid Randall for the name placement. 631 certainly made me hungry.

    1. Not likely, but then again.

      If ever there was a company paying Randall to produce mediocre comics, it is Google. Every time Randall writes a graph figure of pseudo-scientific data based on internet search results, the big G hands him a blank check.

      If that doesn't convince you, then Randall's misplaced evangelism of Google+ will.

      This comic is suspiciously pro-Google

      Also: 662

    2. He spends a lot of time fellating Google ever since they let him talk at their conference. He probably thinks it will guarantee him a job if xkcd ever goes belly up. I wonder how he defends their muturbation of Youtube.

  6. Must we really go back to secondary school and learn there is nothing big or clever about drawing crude pictures of genitals?

    1. >and learn there is nothing big
      >nothing big

      Speak for yourself.

  7. It's official: Jon Levi never revived this blog. Randall killed him after he reviewed comic 1305 and took his place. This is a sabotage attempt to assimilate this blog's viewership into drooling, brainwashed cuddlefish! I'm on to you, JONDALL!