44 Comments

  1. The wording and expressions made me think they had weapons are where going to either stab or garott the children to death.

    Pixelated hands, though, is a convention for flipping them off so I’m sure that’s the intention.

    But flipping people off when they can’t see you isn’t “payback”. And the wording is “we can be raging mad at them all day” doesn’t explain what the payback is for. If they’ve been raging mad all day, then they’ve been paying back all day.

    Does anyone have the number for protective services?

  2. Wow this is bizarre. The pixels would indicate flipping them off, but what monsters would do that, plus as mentioned, how is it “payback”? Taking embarrassing photos makes a lot more sense, but then why the pixels?

  3. “The pixels would indicate flipping them off”

    No, they just indicate something you aren’t supposed to see. On broadcast television, flipping someone off is considered an obscene gesture (which means the broadcaster can get fined by the FCC)… but it isn’t the only thing that so qualifies.
    I’m not sure that there is any specific thing you are supposed to interpret here, just that it’s something they shouldn’t be doing.

  4. @dvandom Not seeing the comic either, but I googled it, and yeah, they’re flipping the bird.

  5. Parents frustrated with kids all day. Wait until they’re sleeping to burn off the frustration with a double-handed bird gesture. That’s all there is to see here, folks.

  6. “No, they just indicate something you aren’t supposed to see. ”

    Yes, but unless they are carrying dildos the most reasonable thing to imagine that we aren’t supposed to see is flipping them off.

    ” Wait until they’re sleeping to burn off the frustration with a double-handed bird gesture. That’s all there is to see here, folks.”

    Yes, but that’s not funny. That’s pathetic and… very disturbing to imagine there are parents who would consider doing that.

  7. It’s the variant of “spoiled expectations” where the expectation was formed from an implied contrast Y with one stated condition X, but then what you get is not at all Y but just more X, or sometimes (not really here) an exaggerated or intensified X.

    As has been pointed out, flipping fingers is maybe not really an increase from “raging mad”. But if the “raging mad” went unexpressed all day, it is at least an increase in expression of the emotion.

    My favorite example of this to hate is “Winning isn’t everything…” which invites the contrast of “.. good sportsmanship matters more” or something along those lines. But we get instead “… it’s the only thing” which is just a repetition of the initial posited hyper-competitive attitude.

    And it’s also stupid for failing the intention to give an increase or exaggeration of the original. There does not really seem to be room, technically or practically, for taking “the only thing” as different from “everything”.

  8. I thought maybe they were holding monster masks or something. They could tip toe in, scream BOO and scare the kids. Go to YouTube and search for “CatDad Feeds his Kitties in Cat Mask” for an example.

  9. ” the most reasonable thing to imagine that we aren’t supposed to see is flipping them off.”

    No, the most reasonable thing to imagine is some generic, unspecifiied object that the artist decided not to show you. It doesn’t matter to the joke what horrible thing you imagine them preparing to do. There’s literally no reason to care if someone else has the same exact image in their mind of what’s hidden behind the pixellation as what someone else has in mind as to what’s behind the pixellation. Just like how, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, they don’t show you what’s in the Ark of the Covenant. All you need to know is that it melts Nazis, and they show you THAT.

  10. It could be anything in their hands. I’d vote for glasses of ice water. Seriously, I don’t think we’re supposed to think it’s any one thing, just use your imagination.

    Peanut butter? Spoiled milk one of the girls left on the counter? Who knows?

  11. Chak: But why would glasses of ice water, peanut butter, or spoiled milk, get pixellated? It needs to be something that would normally get pixellated. I don’t see what it could be other than flipping them off. Based on conventions of media pixellation, it’s either that, or something with sexual content, which wouldn’t make any sense. And even if they were holding up dildos, their arm position doesn’t make sense for anything other than flipping off the kids.

  12. WW: I think the idea is that choosing a particular object is more restricting than leaving it up to your imagination

  13. Chak: But what can you imagine it to be, other than flipping them off? Given the constraints of requiring the pixellation to make sense, and the hidden thing to fit otherwise into the story, there’s only one thing I can imagine.

  14. WW, “But what can you imagine it to be, other than flipping them off? ”

    Uh, ice water? Peanut butter?

  15. I think James et al are correct in the *intention* is to leave it to our imagination but in actuality Winter Wallaby is *EXACTLY* right in that it fails to do that. It is simply *not* the convention to pixelate the unknown but to only pixelate the obscene and indecent, or identifying information. Ice water, peanut butter, masks, and even handguns, daggers and piano wire are *not* obscene and indecent and the strip fails in its attempt to imply “leave it to your imagination” by pixelation.

    Flipping off, dildos, graphic pornographic magazines, or a valid credit card number.

  16. Chak: I don’t agree that ice water or peanut butter meet the “constraints of requiring the pixellation to make sense, and the hidden thing to fit otherwise into the story.”

    There’s a narrative convention where you don’t show things, but leave them off-screen, because you’re leaving them to the observer to imagine. Pixellation is a more specific narrative convention where the things that aren’t shown need to fall into certain categories.

    I actually disagree with woozy a little, and think the author intends us to think they are “flipping off” their kids. Otherwise their arm positioning is just weird.

  17. I have no idea why some people can’t see the comic: I uploaded it the same was as always, and most people DO see it.

    How about this?

  18. “Chak: But why would glasses of ice water, peanut butter, or spoiled milk, get pixellated?”

    hard to draw in such a way as to show clearly what it is at today’s shrunken-down comic strip sizes.

  19. ” It is simply *not* the convention to pixelate the unknown but to only pixelate the obscene and indecent, or identifying information.”

    LOTS of things get pixellated. What they all have in common is that whoever’s doing the showing doesn’t want to show you part of the picture. In broadcast, the most likely reason is to hide something that might draw a fine for being obscene. But there are other reasons to bleep someone’s speech or pixellate a picture. For example, in cop TV shows, if someone hasn’t signed a release, they get pixellated. Animal Planet has a show that follows game wardens around, and they sometimes blur injuries to animals, and the bleep out any reference to someone who hasn’t signed a release to be featured on the program. Science Channel has a couple of programs that feature satellite imagery, and they sometimes have things blurred out.

  20. ” the strip fails in its attempt to imply “leave it to your imagination” by pixelation.”

    Worked for me.

  21. That kind of behavior (necessitating pixelation) is really out of character for anything in that particular comic strip. Almost like someone other than the usual author did that one.

  22. “I have no idea why some people can’t see the comic”
    You’ve named this “pixel.gif” which is also the name given to some tracking images, particularly in e-mail. Some browser settings may be set to block pictures with this name as a security measure.

  23. WW: “There’s a narrative convention where you don’t show things, but leave them off-screen, because you’re leaving them to the observer to imagine. Pixellation is a more specific narrative convention where the things that aren’t shown need to fall into certain categories.”

    Okay. I guess I’ll just say it could have been done better.

  24. “That kind of behavior (necessitating pixelation) is really out of character for anything in that particular comic strip. Almost like someone other than the usual author did that one.”

    Attack of the Deadline Monster, perhaps?

  25. billybob, that never occurred to me. And it certainly solves the mystery.

    I wonder whether there are any other filenames I should watch out for. hazardous-file.jpg, maybe?

  26. The way their hands are positioned, to me, eliminates the “holding something” suggestions. They are flipping the kids the bird. You can try to make it something else, but it ain’t.

  27. Good catch, billybob. I had to search out the image separately too.

    I agree with the “flip off the kids” school of thought. Leaving it to the imagination makes no sense here–if we aren’t meant to think of some specific thing, it would have been more effective to just zoom in and show their evil grinning faces. (Admittedly, Terri Libenson never seems to do anything other than medium shots showing either shoulder-up or waist-up views. She never does the zoomed-in view I’m picturing now.)

  28. Good job none of you has a friend with a cat named Pixel… or maybe you do and just don’t realize it…

  29. Hallmark Channel runs the TV show “Frasier”. Unfortunately some of the language in same is too much for those at Hallmark – remember this is a NBC network, broadcast show that had to meet all the rule of same back in the ancient days of the 1990s.

    Words are constantly blipped. Similar to figuring out what is behind the pixels one tries to figure out what was blipped. (Not bleeped as one does not hear anything instead of what one should hear.) This happened just as I was reading these posts. Just to prevent being put into moderation here I will say that what was obviously a word for donkey was missing from a conversation.

    Some years ago “Dave’s World” about Dave Barry went into repeats and there was constantly words missing from same also on whatever channel was running the repeats.

    Doing these things just calls more attention to the words or gestures.

  30. Forty-odd years ago, some comic strip (maybe it was B.C. before Hart lost his mind) did a weeklong sequence around the concept that writing @#$% draws more attention than the actual word would.

  31. ‘Some years ago “Dave’s World” about Dave Barry . . .’

    Did you know Harry Anderson (who played Dave Barry, but not very well, IMHO) passed away last year? Dave Barry is still alive and well and writing books (just put out a new one about his dog).

  32. Words are constantly blipped. Similar to figuring out what is behind the pixels one tries to figure out what was blipped.

    Do you have Closed Captions on? It would be interesting to see if they reworked those or left in the original dialog. I always have the CC on for non-live-ish programs. Sometimes you can see where late changes in dialog didn’t make it to CC, or they changed a song selection, that sort of thing.

  33. @ Andréa – Boy do I feel silly. I was about to complain that your DSotH strip had no connection to this thread, because I didn’t see the pixels in the fourth panel at all. Samson’s placement didn’t help, it looks more like an index rather than a middle finger.

  34. Well, it’s really only ‘connected’ ’cause of the pixellation, but I couldn’t resist (because I live by Oscar Wilde’s mantra/philosophy: ‘I can resist anything but temptation’.)

  35. ‘I was about to complain . . . ‘

    What? You think I have one o’ those Complaint Departments we’re always seeing in the comics??

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