Friday, April 16, 2010

Destroying the Lives of Children

Bizarro is brought to you today by Animal Husbandry.

Last week my cartoon was drawing attacks from all quarters. Yesterday's post was a bout a plagiarism accusation, today's is about my mistreatment of preschool icons. Below is the email I received, in its entirety:

I usually do not take the time to write someone about a comic strip. But this time I could not just ignore it.

I take EXTREME OFFENSE at your comic today. I am surprised Sesame Street hasn't talked to you yet.
(How does she know they haven't?)
The Birds
(Capitalized?) in the your comic strip today are very obviously Big Bird and Foghorn Leghorn.

You are making these characters out to be bullies. That is NOT what these characters stand for.
They are good characters, and I feel you are beating up on their images by using them.

I have two younger children that love to read the comics everyday with me (age 7 & 10).
When they saw what you had drawn, I'm not sure they will never want to see your comic strip again.
They were both extremely offended (as was I) and at the ages they are they knew that Big Bird would
NEVER do anything like that!!!!!!
(Then what is the problem?)

It is NOT FUNNY to bully someone's image like that, to infer that they would do anything like that.

(I believe she means "insinuate." "Inferring" is what she's doing.)

To pick on an image that has been out in this world doing nothing but good for over 40 years is SHAMEFUL!!!
You should be ashamed of yourself for picking on something as PURE as Big Bird!

Sincerely,

Name withheld because I'm embarrassed for her.

I responded politely to her note, as I invariably do, and told her that everyone knows that Big Bird would never act this way and that is what makes it funny. I suggested that if she explained that to her children they would no longer be upset by the cartoon and learn a little something about the way humor works, too. I got no response.

Oh, the tremendous weight of social responsibility that a cartoonist bears.

33 comments:

parkrrrr said...

Huh. She must have watched different Foghorn Leghorn cartoons than the ones I grew up with. In the ones I saw, he spent pretty much the entire cartoon beating the crap out of that dog. Not a bully indeed.

Writer said...

If Sesame Street isn't going to take offense (assuming they haven't) at Avenue Q, I doubt they would take offense at your comic.

I can understand the mother taking offense - she seems set in her ways, but I expect better of the kids. Especially if they read the funnies everyday.

Mitch said...

Sorry Dan. Some people just really have no parenting skills (or some really, really bad taste in humor).

1Red1 said...

I just thought the cartoon was having fun with the name Big Bird -- as a big bird, he needs a big bag of bird seed. And Foghorn Leghorn was just there because Big Bird needs a friend, plus Leghorn isn't a small bird himself.

Poor, humorless letter writer. The world's no fun when everything is taken seriously.

STIR FRY LAD said...

Gee, and I just thought the cartoon wasn't particularly funny because, well, it just wasn't particularly funny. After reading this item, however, a funny thing's happened…I find the cartoon funnier.

Go figure.

CZHA said...

Perhaps she could get her children to explain to her why the cartoon is funny. That is, if she hasn't entirely sapped their natural sense of the absurd.

dannybuntu said...

Eh, I think it's hilarious and not really offensive.

I'm actually a conservative father and I believe that it's up to the parent to educate their young ones about the vagaries of visual representation.

For the lady who complained, it's easier to explain to your kid that the bird is a gangster Big Bird from an alternate universe.

All it needs is a little mental calisthenics. (did I speel that right?)

rob said...

WTF?

JF said...

Fortunately, most of us would find a nun firing a large high powered gun more amusing than a nun donating a couch to Goodwill. I agree, humor often comes from surprise and defying expectation.

This is also why the totally unpredictable fiery responses you get are so amusing to us. Thanks for posting them!

Anonymous said...

I thought is was hilarious Dan. I agree with your aspect, it's funny because it's so far fetched. Don't worry about the offended lady, I got one of my teachers hooked on your comics, so lose one reader, gain another. And my teacher shares your dietary and animal rights views.

Oolong said...

Geez, some people have got to calm down. My dad introduced me to Bizarro when I was like what, 6 years old, and I thought it was the best comic strip I had ever seen as a 6 year old and now that I'm almost 22, I still think it's the best comic strip I've ever seen. He never thought that it was destroying my innocence or whatever because he knew there are much worse things to look at.

Anyway, keep doing the awesome work that you do, Mr. Piraro! I've been a long time fan and I always look forward to seeing a comic everyday!

Anonymous said...

Son - I say son - I think you put that chicken hawk in it's place (bird wouldn't know a prize rooster if it pecked 'im in the eye...)

F. Leghorn

Daniel said...

I don't know about Big Bird, but actually Foghorn Leghorn is always bullying that dog in that fsrm, and is always seraching new ways to kick him, so the person that send the letter did not research a lot about the topic.

Kelli Conlow said...

Your photos crack me up! And, as a parent of five and host mother to another child, I find that the 'raising a ruckus' parent is acting in a way that reminds me of the Muslim community that put a death contract on a Danish cartoonist for insulting Mohammed. They're cartoons, folks, not documentaries, okay? Give your sphincters a snip, let out some line, and try to sense the humor of life on this planet.

Katherine said...

Poor Dan. You shouldn't have to waste your glorious life dealing with weirdos like that. I personally think your stuff is brilliant.

Amyranth said...

I betcha she didn't like "Spiderman walks the family dog" or "Robins are boring, I'm the Bird Of Paradise now." strips either. :P

Robin Cain said...

well, maybe big bird would never do that, but foghorn leghorn would.

Tegin said...

I want that clown sweater!

Aaron said...

She's probably too busy whining on Facebook about the socialization of America to reply to your email. Dan, you are my HERO!

Jordan said...

That was hilarious! I can't see why some people get so worked up about things like this.

Overlander said...

Ah, but she missed a golden opportunity to teach her children a very special less today.

She is right that Big Bird would never do such a thing. He was far too innocent to ever conceive of being a bully. Big Bird is beautiful in his childlike innocence and goodness.

Most kids start out like that. Then they venture out to play-dates or daycare (God forbid) and discover another type of child. One very much like Foghorn Leghorn.

Foghorn Leghorn is a prankster. He is what the daycare administrator would call a Trouble Maker with a capital T.
He takes advantage of the dumb, tricks the gullible and represents the type who ruins the innocent in all of us.

Her beautiful little snowflakes are going to meet baaaaaaad kids like Foghorn one day and they are going to hand over their lunch or get their eyes pecked out. Or both.

I say, if I were a bettin' man, I say, if I were a bettin' man, I say both. Son.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvwh9_HsUmU

Thomas said...

Niiice. I hope this lady's waspishness brought some joy to you for having stirred up so much reaction over a cartoon. I know it did in me. I recall similar outrage when a former sister-in-law & her 3 little kids were driving a country highway in Missouri back when Dukes Of Hazzard was on the air, and they passed a flatbed truck with 3 or 4 flattened Chargers, all stunt cars for the General Lee, obviously ruined during filming for the series. Her outrage went on for months & sounded like this lady you heard from.

Allan Koay said...

tell her to stick to, ugh, Garfield.

Eric said...

One comment/correction
She did technically use 'infer' correctly. It can either mean to derive something from logical reasoning or suggest something with logical clues.

oroboros said...

I was kind of expecting an image like this (http://tinyurl.com/y79ragp) on your animal husbandry link. :o) I guess I've got a deviated corpus callosum or something...

Tom O'Connell said...

oh my, soldier on you weary cartoonist. The world is just not FAIR :-)

Lori said...

Wow. Just proves that people can take offense at just about everything. Personally, I'm offended by her insistence on using the English language incorrectly and the fact that she was allowed to have children despite that.

Amber Avines said...

Dan, comic strip writers like you must rue the day that the internet came along and allowed us all to spout off about nothing. I can't believe some of the stuff you have to put up with.

As with all forms of entertainment, if you like it, keep reading or watching. If you don't, move on.

Keep up the great work and don't let the crazies get you down.

feralchick said...

Pretty sure you plagiarized a dream I had for that first pic-link. :-)

thomas4143 said...

As a parent, I feel it is vital that we teach our kids about media literacy - how to correctly interpret the inevitable opinionation and cultural references found in media of all kinds, all the time. So I can't agree with the mom's point - it is instead a great opportunity to educate.

However, I despise it when bloggers interpolate their own comments into someone else's letter - it's like you did not give her a fair chance to state her case without your own running commentary.

Leigh said...

Well, if it makes any difference... both my son and I found it funny. But then he rolls on the floor laughing hysterically when I make up stories of the various ways Elmo meets his end... so maybe humor IS genetic.

:p

P.L. Frederick said...

I know we all agree with the points raised in that letter there. But there is one small bit at which I must amicably part ways: that of Big Bird and Foghorn Leghorn's motivation. If it was in the Sesame Street / Loony Tunes script, Big Bird and Foghorn Leghorn would do it. They sold out long, long ago. Oh, AND THEY'RE NOT REAL.

P.L. Frederick (Small & Big)

dan smith said...

people like this make me laugh. everyone one/thing out there has been made fun of at one point or another in all sorts of mediums some people are just noticing it from the confines of their shelter, and yelp as they try desperately to scramble back inside. The Simpsons just made fun of Bert and Erny showing them in a gay bar lol