Monday, October 16, 2006

Scent of a Veterinarian


In this strip, Jon tries to reconcile his former glumness about women with his recent successful relationship with Liz. In the first panel, Jon repeats a customary lament about the supposed inability of the sexes to relate to each other. In the second panel, something clicks, pops, or lights-up inside Jon, and he realizes the accepted truism doesn't ring true. There are platitudes that are not cosmic truth, but trite ways to justify whatever bad mood you're in, and I think Jon recognizes the tinge of shrug-shouldered misogyny in "women are a mystery".

But Jon doesn't discard the idea entirely. He appends it with affection and admiration that closer approximates his experience with Liz. The new, weighted shift in meaning still holds, even if the punchline is motivated by a general affection for women and not Liz specifically, though that makes it sweeter. Women may be a mystery, after all, but Jon cannot pretend to be irritated or frightened of the idea. His method of expressing this is silly, but the sentiment is strong and positive. Little wonder, then, that Garfield would feel the need to belittle it, and therefore Jon and Liz's relationship, and by proxy all those with romantic interest in women. We don't need your hate speech, kitty cat!

12 comments:

Elliot said...

I find Garf's response really sad, because it's so bitter. Deep inside, Garfield longs too for the "mystery" of women, but doesn't want the messiness that comes with that mystery. It gets Freud-ey quick.

On a vaguely related note, is it possible to have spent one's childhood watching Garfield and Friends, and not intuitively think of Nermal as female?

jacey said...

There are many with the same response to Nermal. I've had several conversations about the cat and I can always count on "Nermal's a boy?" even from those who have not watched the show.

Also, what was Nermal's story? I seem to remember he would just 'show up.' Jon would say something like, 'Oh, Nermal's here,' so that the punchline could be that Garfield is upset somehow, but how did Nermal get there? Are they just a cat-borrowing group of people?

Gabe said...

Nermal was orginally his parent's kitten, I believe. I guess he shows up when they drop him off for a vacation or something. Though we never see Nermal when the strip goes to the farm.

And I found this strip amusing.

Anonymous said...

I too was certain that Nermal was female.

Anonymous said...

"more closely" approximates, not "closer."

Keely said...

Nermal has the female-signifier, eyelashes. It's almost impossible to think of another male cartoon animal with them...Bambi?

Bebedora said...

There's a similar issue revolving around Tweety from Looney Tunes. He (she?) also has long eyelashes.

NightRaven said...

What?
Bambi and Tweety are males?
My childhoods country in the cartoon world is collapsing, woe is me!

luke said...

I remember being so disturbed when I watched Bambi and all the feminine animals had deep male voices at the end of the movie. It's just not right. I think Walt was intentionally f**king with our heads.

ramapith said...

In the old days, it seems eyelashes didn't necessarily connote cartoon femininity. Feminine apparel did.
Tweety's male gender orientation was never questioned during the decades he spent whistling at female birds and being referred to as "him" in dozens of cartoons and hundreds of comics.
Tweety became a "she" when the cartoons ceased to air on television and WB found it useful to market a "hyper-cute" character to conservative women. The combined absence of proof and presence of confusingly targeted products created a modern urban legend of a female Tweety.
Which Warner is evidently thrilled to capitalize on. How quickly things fly down the memory hole.

Cedar said...

Garfield's girlfriend Arlene always bothered me
http://www.petcaretips.net/famous_cats_tony_tiger.html
She absolutely looks like a completely different species.
Of course, Miss Buxley kinda looks like a different species from all the Beetle Bailey boys, so maybe it's just a weird, sexist holdover.

Anonymous said...

May be He has false eyelashes?