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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Godsauce Alters This Week's Family Circus

Sometimes Bil Keane makes this difficult, and sometimes he makes it easy.

This week's alterations after the jump...

Dolly tries to recognize a benefit of her grandmother’s continued embrace of antiquated technology.

White people, huh? They can’t tell the Latino nationalities apart. It was probably a dead Colombian the whole time!

Note how Billy's hand is resting casually on the dog.

Jon doesn’t hate women. He’s just very passionate about strong government regulations against park vendors coming within a meter of benches.

Jeffy has a revelation that leaves him in a black hole of despair.

The children are prisoners of their own minds as well. The only difference is that Thel has recognized the futility of attempting escape.

Now this last one has actually been bothering me a great deal:

Jeffy’s attitudes toward race will become ever more abhorrent when he realizes his inability to satisfy a woman.

I was trying to do a couple of things with this alteration and make it a bit deeper than some of my earlier efforts. Of course, my first goal is to be funny, and having these children saying horrifying things can be pretty funny. Usually, the more extreme the shit I put in their captions/word bubbles, the funnier the final result is.

The other thing that I wanted to do was try to examine some of the emotional roots of racism. In this case, Jeffy's racism is largely rooted in his own feelings of inferiority. He has found himself to be lacking, and he is projecting his self-disgust onto those whose capabilities he covets. The cultural framework of racism allows him to shelter his ego in this way with a minimal amount of self-awareness. He is disgusting but ultimately pathetic.

The problem is that the usual tactics used to achieve the first goal are not compatible with those needed to properly realize the second. In order to really consider the emotional basis for Jeffy's racism, the reader has to be able to empathize with him and to identify with his feelings of inadequacy. Although we disapprove of his unhealthy and hateful attitudes, we need to see where they are rooted for the alteration to work as intended.

I do not think that goal was achieved in the final product. In trying to come up with something as vile as possible for Jeffy to say, I created a visceral disgust that makes the character too abhorrent to give the benefit of such emotional depth. Seriously, reading it makes me cringe.

Obviously, I don't intend to change the world with this stupid exercise, but I do want for it to occasionally have some added value. Unfortunately, the vileness of the racism here removes that value. My only excuse is that a muscle relaxer and several drinks had managed to dull my critical faculties. You have my deepest apologies.

I do hope that the sub-caption helps to salvage some of the original intent somewhat. Just tell me this: is it still funny?

Alterations continue to be posted daily at the Godsauce Alters Today's Family Circus tumblr.


  1. Re: The last comic.

    The difficult thing with having characters say racist/offensive things, is that there need so be some sort of knowing wink to the audience. A "I know that what this character is saying is wrong" kindof thing. Otherwise things can just be offensive, rather than satirical. It's a very fine line, and it's especially difficult given that you only have one line to get all that in there. It all has to do with context. I dunno. I would say it's funny with the explanation, but more shocking for the sake of shocking without it. Just my opinion, though. Overall these are giving me serious lols. Keep up the awesome work!

  2. I definitely get that. I was hoping that the sub-caption served as the "wink", and I think it would have worked had the content been toned down.