Friday, August 25, 2006

Cry for Jon


Two particular points of interest today. Garfield regularly trades in schadenfreude gags, wherein Garfield takes pleasure in Jon or Odie's pain. This visit to the movies provides a sweet-natured and related counterpoint. It's not Liz's sadness that gives Jon happiness, but her need for comfort, which is a natural byproduct of sadness. There's nothing insidious about taking pleasure in the ability to be there for a someone in need, but it is a minor human failing we do not usually admit. In more dire circumstances it is better known as the sin of pride. But Liz is not hurt or sad on a soul-shaking level - the reasons we attend weepy movies are the reasons the Greeks produced tragedy, and ultimately cathartic; the audience in their own way is happy because of their willful immersion in superficial sadness. Because of this we aren't concerned that Jon's exhibiting sociopathic behavior and feeling gleeful while others weep, rather there's a wistful little joke about a man unaccustomed to a social touch feeling his way in the world of interpersonal contact.

Audience Reaction Studies
Whatever the movie is about, surely a bittersweet romance, a real-life drama is happening in the theater, and goes unnoticed by all but the knowing and/or leering elderly woman. The rest of the audience is rapt, and from the neckless soda-sucker to the neck-braced popcorn-eater to the fright-wigged aerobics instructor, in true Garfield fashion, no one looks like they're enjoying themselves.

Besides Liz, who I hope is talking at normal volume during a movie only for expositional purposes, no one is communicating the emotional effects of the film so well as the redhead in the turtleneck. Cartooning crowds of ugly people without distracting from a simple joke is a tricky tightrope. Her one-handed pantomime makes her the only audience member vying for our attention in the packed frame. Also I'm pretty sure her date is one of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Note in the 3rd panel the leeriness of the leery old woman when she is looking at the young couple... Perhaps she is recalling such a time from her own youth.

Adrian said...

Seriously, what is up with the fuzzy guy in the back?

Aaron said...

There it is, folks: the return of Lyman!

Anonymous said...

And I thought "SNIFF SNIFF" was meant to indicate that the movie stinks.

Ryan Ferneau said...

"I love the Snakes on a Plane. It's so bad."

Robert said...

I thought Jon was smiling because if Liz thinks the movie is so bad she starts crying, they might get out of there quicker.

Anonymous said...

note to robert: Liz thinks the movie is "sad". I made the same mistake while reading and had a momentary breakdown when I thought I didn't get the gag in a Garfield comic.

Anonymous said...

schadenfreude

not that I'm smarter than you. I looked it up and couldn't find it at first because of the typo.

Ryan Ferneau said...

Oh, I thought it said "bad" too, and that it was supposed to be some evil Simpsons gag where the people like each other because they hate the same things.

Amanda said...

All I know is that I heart Jon's Swiss Cheese Tie.

Allen said...

What exactly IS the redhead's expression and hand gesture conveying? I initially thought that she was wiping away a tear, but the pinky in the air and the extended thumb looks like she's trying to adjust the glasses that she isn't wearing, because the screen is large enough to see without them. What is she doing?
I bear an unfortunate resemblance to her date, I think.

Went Hulk said...

Surely Jon's reason for smiling should be obvious.