Take a quick look at the photo that accompanies this post, the one with the panels from three comics that appeared recently in my daily newspaper. (Note to Millennials: Ask your parents to explain what a newspaper is.) Today’s post was supposed to focus on those comics, but it turns out that you won’t be able to read the story online.*
That’s because I have discovered the one thing you absolutely cannot publish on the internet. Yes, you can post pornography, threats, vile characterizations, fake videos and the worst moments of some stranger’s life. The thing you absolutely cannot post, though, is satire.
I tried, I really did, and my failure offers up a lesson about the medium that transforms the message.
Quick flashback: I was sitting at the kitchen table and I noticed that three comic strips all focused on the same topic on the same day: women’s hair. It’s pretty common that two comics might touch on the same theme on any given day, of course, because there are only so many general areas (family, money, exercise, pets…) that are universal sources of mirth. When I saw the trio about hair, though, it reminded me of Auric Goldfinger’s explanation that, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action.”
Genius!! I had been meaning to put together a post about conspiracy theories, but I hadn’t found the right way to tackle the subject. This blog is a politics-free zone, which prohibits any comments about 99.9999% of all conspiracies. But the comics pages are perfect. Nobody could really see a conspiracy among cartoonists, so a funny riff on a comics cabal would be exactly right.
So I wrote a post about the conspiracy I had uncovered among cartoonists to undermine America with their flagrant attacks on women, families and other institutions. I added ALL CAPS and bold type and underlines and SOMETIMES ALL THREE to mimic the suspect screeds that arrive in my morning feed.
And it’s pretty good, at least in comparison with most of my stuff, so I put it in the queue to run today. But then reality set in. The problem with putting satire online is that so many, many, many, many…many people do not grasp the difference between real and fake. Our subscribers would recognize the post as satire, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that somebody somewhere would miss the humor and launch a boycott against Blondie.
I tried adding a spoiler alert of sorts to the beginning of the post, but that’s like trying to explain why a joke is funny. I thought of adding a note at the end of the screed, but that would work about as well as the “thanks for sharing the fun” announcement at the end of the War of the Worlds broadcast.
In the end, I gave up. If we were sitting in a bar and I leaned in close and told you about the comics conspiracy, we could have a good laugh. On the internet, though, we’d cause a panic.
Damn. Now I need to think of something else I can post today.
* If you’d like to read the conspiracy rant, just leave a comment (include your email in the appropriate info box) and I will send the pdf to you by email. Don’t share it on the internet, though, because innocent lives are at stake.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.