Connelly dissects Chron comic strip

Just a few years ago, the Chronicle apparently felt the need to insulate its readers from such tough language as "suck" and "damned."

Now, Richard Connelly reports, the Chron seems to have relaxed a bit:

A couple of years ago the Houston Chronicle was refusing to use in quotes such terms as "suck" as a synonym for "stink." Now it's printing cunnilingus jokes.

The April 4 edition of the comic strip Get Fuzzy was based on a discussion of traditional holiday meals. "Rabbit? For Easter? What are you, crazy?" one character asked. To which another replied, "Christmas turkey. Thanksgiving turkey. Valentine's Day beaver. Easter bunny. It's tradition."

Talk turns to eating leprechauns for St. Patrick's Day, and the first character goes, "No, no n…Hold on -- Valentine's Day what?"

The syndicator of the strip, United Media, sent out two versions, one using beaver and one using (for some reason) marmot. Papers like The Washington Post -- and the United Media Web site -- used the marmot version; a spokeswoman for the syndicate said, however, that there's no tally for how many papers went beaver.

Chron features editor Kyrie O'Connor made the decision to be bold, although she says she didn't find the strip in question too funny. "Darby Conley [the strip's author] has, alas, made beaver jokes before," she says. "Frankly, I hate it. He's too good to get away with this."

So far, no reader has complained. The "people who get it won't be offended, and the people who don't get it won't be offended," she says.

Take note, writers of Blondie. Writers of Hagar the Horrible, please ignore.

Am I mistaken in thinking that explanation is a version of, "our smart readers are enlightened enough not to be bothered; our stupid readers are too stupid to get it?"

Whatever might be said in private meetings, that just seems like an odd thing to say to the local media critic about one's customers.

UPDATE: Kyrie O'Connor sends along the following note:

Let me clarify -- this "Get Fuzzy" issue had nothing to do with "stupid" or "smart" readers, nor would it ever. What I meant was that the word in question can easily be taken innocently. That is, small children and parents of small children would not be puzzled or have to explain away anything. That's not the only criterion for running or not running a comic strip, but in this case it seemed to be the operative one. I'd be happy to answer any questions you or your readers have, just as I answered Rich's.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 04/15/05 09:03 AM | Print |

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