27 Comments

  1. I can’t find an interpretation for this that doesn’t have at least some sort of negative attitude towards medication for mental health.
    The psychologist is sick of listening to green sweater guy, and is trying to “unsubscribe” to the story by sending him to a psychiatrist. (Or the psychiatrist is trying to have him “cured” and not come back by giving him meds.) Not out of any desire to actually help but just because they don’t care about him. (Shades of the “why go see someone who only listens because you pay them when you could dump all your emotional problems on your partner instead” dysfunction.)

    I suppose there’s a more positive version along the lines of “you don’t need to worry anymore, just take meds and your anxiety that causes everything to replay will quiet down”, but that just doesn’t work for me in the context of Pardon my Planet.

  2. Christine may be right, but I just interpreted it as the doctor taking the long way to get to the simple conclusion of “you need medication”. As to why, it might have to do with the whole “these young kids need everything explained in terms they will understand” trope, hence the reference to unsubscribing.

  3. When the doctor says “Your in luck” it implies to me that the patient doesn’t want to remember anything about his life anymore and the doctor has just what he needs to forget everything. Pretty dark, though…

  4. I saw it as simply the doctor comparing “unsubscribe button” (a neo-tech millenial phrase! trendy!) with medication. Nothing dark at all.

    However the analogy doesn’t really work that well (medication isn’t “unsubscribe”) but…. Um, this is “Pardon My Planet” has it *ever* done a working analogy properly? Seeing this as dark is, in my opinion, giving Vic Lee more credit then s/he deserves.

  5. I’m reminded of a song about Sylvia Plath that refers to her as “[writing] the note that will excuse her from this world.”

  6. “finally, one of these makes sense!”

    It does??????

    I mean, I’m pretty sure it is “unsubscribe button” = “medication” which makes equal amount of sense and is equally accurate as any of his others… which is to say, not very.

    When you say: In Reality (“unsubscribe button” = “death”) and In Vic Lee World (“unsubscribe button” = “medication”) and therefore Vic Lee is joking about suicide and death— how dark, you are making an assumption that In Reality and In Vic Lee World mesh up. And … I see no reason this one meshes up any better or worse than any other.

  7. I went along Bill’s line. I equated “unsubscribe” with “ending the story”. Glad I’m not the only one who went to a dark place.

  8. If the therapist is suggesting suicide as many seem to think, then wow that is most certainly a dark comic. But I still doubt that’s the intention. Why would he suggest *a* pill? Pills are one of many ways one might do the deed, but even in those cases, I have never heard of suicide by a single pill. If that really was the idea of the author, a noose would have made it much clearer. And as far as I know, Dr. Kevorkian didn’t recommend it to those who were depressed, not to mention he didn’t use pills.

  9. I think the use of a pill is to keep it ambiguous. If he’d suggested a noose or some other obvious suicide method, he’d probably get into a lot of trouble for being insensitive, etc.

  10. I don’t think “Suicide is Painless” is the right song reference. I lean much more strongly towards “Mother’s Little Helper”.

  11. “I have never heard of suicide by a single pill.”

    Oregon allows terminally-ill people to chose a suicide pill. Sometimes they do it with off-the-shelf, non-lethal doses in sufficient multitude to achieve the desired result, but they do have it in one pill, to avoid having someone pass out and stop swallowing pills somewhere between “serious complications” and “death”.

  12. unsubscribe is not a means of coping, it is a means of totally ignoring…or in denial. Not a great outcome from seeing a shrink. That is usually where one starts.

  13. If it’s a subtle updating of “Turn on, tune in, drop out” it’s actually pretty clever. My guess is that’s the vague sentiment here, but I’m not sure PMP is intentionally making the connection with Timothy Leary.

    This strip has a lot of joke ideas with good potential, but the phrasing is often awkward enough that it just doesn’t land right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get anywhere near as dark as a suicide joke, so I doubt that’s the intent.

  14. @ James: Suicide is Painless is the perfect reference. The scene in the movie in which it features is the funeral/suicide of the character Painless, the dentist. In it he takes a single capsule, which he has been told will be lethal and shuffle him off this mortal coil. (SPOILER ALERT: It doesn’t, it was a fake). So, given that it is a single pill suicide, it aligns perfectly with the suicide interpretation of the comic, which seems to be the interpretation of the majority.

    Mother’s Little Helper, on the other hand, is about taking drugs as a coping strategy for the stresses of daily life, not to end life. A lovely song, but a poor match for the comic.

  15. I don’t think this fits (not that the suicide hypothesis is that much better), but for what it’s worth, my first thought on seeing the word “pill” was the “Pill”, making me think that “unsubscribe” was supposed to be some sort of retroactive contraceptive reset function.

  16. As I recall, the plot of the Matrix movie was that the world as we know it, isn’t real. It’s a computer simulation created by robots that have enslaved humanity and are using humans as batteries. Somehow, a small group of resistance fighters have figured this out and escaped. They have also learned how to hack into the programming and rewrite the code to give themselves expanded powers within the program. It wasn’t really all that “deep” of a movie.

  17. “Suicide is Painless is the perfect reference.”

    Or would be, if this comic were about suicide, which it is not.

    “Mother’s Little Helper, on the other hand, is about taking drugs as a coping strategy for the stresses of daily life”

    Which is what this comic IS about. You take a pill, and you unsubscribe from all those stresses of your daily life.

    Of course, taking drugs to deal with daily life doesn’t work. Neither does hitting the “unsubscribe” button.

  18. Suicide is painless is a perfect reference for the statement “Yep. Suicide definitely. I assume that is Dr. Kevorkian or one of his disciples.” The clip was in reference to this statement.

    “Mother’s Little Helper, on the other hand, is about taking drugs as a coping strategy for the stresses of daily life, not to end life. A lovely song, but a poor match for the comic.”

    A poor match for the suicide interpretation. The meaning of the comic is still up in the air.

    ““Mother’s Little Helper, on the other hand, is about taking drugs as a coping strategy for the stresses of daily life” Which is what this comic IS about. ”

    Perhaps you should have posited that as your interpretation when you claimed “I don’t think “Suicide is Painless” is the right song reference”. Of the interpretation of the cartoon given at the time *no-one* had suggested this comic was about taking drugs as a coping mechanism. The interpretations at that point were: suicide (5), medication (3), psychologist passing the buck (1).

  19. “Perhaps you should have posited that as your interpretation when you claimed “I don’t think “Suicide is Painless” is the right song reference”.”

    Perhaps I expected you to get the implication.
    IOW, I WAS positing that as my interpretation when I suggested one song was a better reference.

    Perhaps there is overthinking all over.

    ” Of the interpretation of the cartoon given at the time *no-one* had suggested this comic was about taking drugs as a coping mechanism. The interpretations at that point were: suicide (5), medication (3), psychologist passing the buck (1).”

    These two statements contradict each other.

  20. On some (reliable) TV show I recall that one of Altman’s sons was a teenager when he wrote the lyrics to Suicide is Painless – I forget the rest of the detail of the discussion of the song.

  21. Mike Altman was 14 when he wrote the song – intentionally as the dumbest, most stereotypical teenager thing he could think of.

    Also, thanks to writing the lyrics, he’s actually made more off MASH than his father did, since the song was used on the TV show (he got royalties even though his lyrics weren’t used, because song rights are weird), released as a single, and covered by multiple artists, including Manic Street Preachers and Marilyn Manson.

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