Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is This "Opus" Cartoon Male-Bashing?
The Advocate reports on a recent "Opus" cartoon that has some people up-in-arms regarding "male-bashing" and "father-bashing."

In the cartoon, two boys are discussing a classmate that has "two mommies." One boy questions whether the child will be okay without a male role-model in the house. Enter Steve Dallas, resident "Opus"/"Bloom County" uber-male idiot, who throws a TV out the window to protest a sports play.

Is the message of the cartoon that children would be better off without male role-models, that men are beer-guzzling football-fanatical troglodytes?

Some conservatives have seized on this issue to condemn perceived "male-bashing."

My thoughts? It is just a cartoon, but I do see how some men/fathers might take offense. I think that sometimes we take it for granted that men don't get offended by things like this, that it is all in "good fun" to "balance" the injustices men have visited upon women over the years.

That said, I also see this issue as a way that ultra-conservatives can cast their sly digs at same-sex parenting -- creating an exaggerated "conspiracy" in their minds of gays/feminists targeting heterosexuals, fathers, apple pie, Wonder Bread, etc.

There is no "gay/feminist" conspiracy to "do away with" fathers or heterosexual marriages/parenting. And a cartoon about a neurotic penguin and his neurotic pals is not part of that imaginary conspiracy. That said, I do think the cartoon in question just isn't that funny because it lacks subtlety. "Opus" cartoonist Berke Breathed could have found a better representative of the male gender than womanizing troll Steve Dallas. Straw man, anyone?

As an aside, I used to be a huge fan of Breathed's first comic strip, "Bloom Country," in the 1980s. But looking back at my collected editions, it just hasn't aged well.


  1. I loved Bloom County... LOVED it.

    I have no problem with this cartoon or anything as such. As a husband and father I constantly get to hear commercials on the radio that constantly make the adult male sound like a total idiot and his wife a smart and sassy person who need to lead her dim-bulb husaband down the path of enlightenment.

    We've also seen TV shows like "According to Jim" where the husband is a pudgy loutish obnoxious moron most of the time and his wife is a slim, pretty, smart, saintly woman who puts up with her husbands consatnt tomfoolerly.

    Doesn't bother me. All is fun for the most part and that's how I choose to take it. Espcially since often the portrayals are kinda on the money :)

  2. ...and I suppose there is always Homer Simpson/Peter Griffin.

  3. I don't really have a problem with it. As rocketeerz said, most of the time the comedy is spot-on.

    Where the "outrage" comes in, is where it ceases to be about getting a laugh and becomes some sort of statement.

    As a white, middle-class, middle-aged man...I'm pretty much the devil, no matter what. If I'm not a sexist, I'm a racist. If I'm not sensitive enough, I'm too sensitive and not "manly".

    And, it pretty much goes on from there. So, yeah, I can also see where it gets a little tiresome.

  4. try being a white middle america gay male...

  5. I stand corrected. You, Sir, are the devil ;)

    It reminds me of that Scrubs episode where Turk and Elliot are arguing over who has it worse. :)

  6. Uh....are we really arguing that According to Jim is good comedy here?

  7. The irony is how standard the father-as-the-fool convention has always been on the comics pages. "Foxtrot"; "For Better Of Worst"; any number of the lesser, interchangable family strips. The fact that anyone is complaining about this all of a sudden simply has to be due to the pro-gay message.

  8. Thom,


    Let's not get outta hand. I think I once watched about 6 minutes of "According to Jim". When the first commercial break came on I turned to my wife and was shocked that she wasn't middle-aged. It had felt like 20 years had passed.

    And the show never darkened my tv screen again. :)