Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cat Fight


Garfield is a bully; all trickster characters who achieve special mastery over their universe (Bugs Bunny, Axel Foley, Brer Rabbit, etc.) press their intellectual advantages to some degree, and could technically be charged with emotional and mental bullying. But Garfield regularly physically assaults Jon, Odie, Nermal, spiders, mailmen and others when manipulation fails or is just too taxing for his liking. This is one of the qualities -- if not the quality -- that makes Garfield a uniquely and specifically American pop culture icon, and is the source of a lot of his power as an instrument of social criticism.

On one hand, we have the small, bitter ironies of a self-fulfilling prophecy: both the dog's sign (which in part inspires the cat to retaliate), and Garfield's threat (a cruel response to accusations of cruelty) elicit exactly the reply they were intended to avoid. The supreme comic contradiction of Garfield is his utter narcissism despite failing to manifest many positive characteristics. The masterstroke, as in Confederacy of Dunces, is to position the ill-tempered slob as the hero, by placing him in a world so screwed-up that his stubborn egoism looks like integrity. Whether that little gay dog takes the sign down or not (and who made that sign for him?), Garfield, ever a credit to his race, is going to pound the bejeezus out of him anyway.

7 comments:

Elliot said...

I'm a little confounded by the punchline. Is the dog talking to God? As in, "I told you putting up a sign wouldn't do anything!"

Lisa said...

That dog is a gay homosexual.

Loren said...

If only there were some shorthand way to refer to a gay homosexual ... maybe 'gaymosexual'? Or 'homogaymous'?

Murgatroid said...

I find it odd and strangely ironic that the dog stood around conversing with Garfield despite his own sign's advice.
Would this bitterly ironic scene still have played out if our sexually-ambiguous little doggy had simply turned tail and run at the site of him?
The answer is, of course, a resounding yes. This is Garfield, people. There is no alternative to bitterness and irony.
And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the Islamic worlds response to the Pope's recent comments.

Anonymous said...

Would a gay homosexual be a heterosexual? Sorry, Loren, and Lisa.

Nyperold said...

I do find no gaiety within the diminutive canine's behavior; rather, a degree of fear of the "meanness" of feline species, a trait which he wishes to convince the general populace exists in all cats.

("Gay"? Seriously? I admit, I find myself rolling my eyes at the things people will say someone is homosexual over, preferring to base their judgment on irrelevancies rather than, you know, an expressed desire for sexual contact with someone of the same sex, but this... I can't even see any of the traditional traits people do that with.)