Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

They say that money can't buy you happiness. This is actually a bald-faced lie, most of the time. (I can specifically think of at least a good half a dozen ways I would be personally happier if I had a bit more money on my hands, and that's just right now off the top of my head.) But every so often a situation will arise where the expression holds true, and I found myself in just such a situation recently.

Can money buy you happiness? If you know what you're after, sure. But if all you have is five cents and you are either hungry or in need of intellectual stimulation, you are completely out of luck. Five cents will neither buy you nutrition nor entertainment; in fact, your purchase will only make you fatter -- and dumber.

Plus it magically turns your mother into Flattop Jones from Dick Tracy. I'm not sure what the deal is with that.

Dubble Bubble was originally invented in 1928, allegedly by accident; the comics that became a staple of the brand began print inside the wrappers two years later. According to this page, where you have to squint really hard to look at any of the images, the original stars of the comic were two twins named 'Dub' and 'Bub' -- completely spherical twin brothers in Mickey Mouse pants who could not possibly have been entertaining in the slightest. The character Pud is believed to have first appeared in 1950 as the comics' protagonist, and as such that would make fifty-seven years and counting of him being one of the most stunningly unfunny signature characters ever established.

I mean, granted, the standards are insanely low for these; he doesn't technically exist as an 'advertising' character, because you don't read his tiny inset comic without first having already bought the product. Since there's nothing actually left to advertise after that, his main selling point seems to be merely that he exists; the sales pitch is that the gum comes with a comic, and so the writers (or cartoonists, or soulless corporate automatons, or whoever actually makes these) only have to come up with something vaguely recognizable as a comic to have kept their word and maintained the trust of the consumer.

But even with these hauntingly low expectations, I can actually say with no hesitation in my voice that these are five cents spent that I wish I had back. Because I bought the gum, and I opened the wrapper, and out came this:



Okay, I think I've got it. The gag here is that he crapped himself.

Yes, seriously. That is genuinely the only explanation I can offer with any certainty. Wow that's awful.

Panel one, he's upside down and a speech bubble of exclusively exclamation points appears, not from his head, but from his pants; I'd be willing to accept this as a necessary stylistic oversight and not a plot point if the second panel didn't prominently feature flies circling him. So unless the 'bully repellent' he invented was a pig's head on a stick as an offering to the Beast -- because he is about that age, after all -- or unless Pud is actually the physical manifestation of Beelzebub himself, the flies have been drawn around him specifically to cement the otherwise unspoken assertion that he fouled himself under duress.

And now he's proud of himself for doing it! Which is ostensibly why he hasn't cleaned himself at all, instead walking all the way home and around the house still encrusted in his own filth and surrounded by his newfound fly friends. Oh, the ceaseless cavalcade of mirth and satisfaction it must be for this woman to have raised such a child. I can only imagine the joy she must feel to be the talk of the neighbourhood.

And this is aimed at children! Under no circumstances should children be taught that bullies will leave you alone if you just shit yourself and hope they go away! I guarantee you this will not serve as an effective deterrent!

If I were beating on some dude in a fight and he lost control of his bowels, would he expect me to feel bad about it and stop? And would he expect his dignity to spontaneously rematerialize? Heck, I would feel pretty badass after doing that to a guy! More badass than usual, even!

So needless to say, this is absolutely horrible by any reasonable standard and everybody involved ought to be ashamed of themselves. I did not fork out my hard earned nickel to have my faith in humanity trampled!

Then again, it's not as though any of us are unaccustomed to people making massive piles of shit and claiming they've created something helpful.

And we've established previously how I register bursts of intense disappointment in humanity, so:

"You have brought nothing but dishonour and misery to our family since day one. Nobody is amused by your antics, least of all your long-suffering mother. You are wasting our time, you are wasting your life, and you just tracked feces footprints across the same carpet that your mother just finished vacuuming. Go to your room. And die there."

God, I hate Dubble Bubble comics. Lesson learned, I guess. That'll teach me not to fritter my money away so frivolously.

Yes, I'm willing to acknowledge the possibility that I get myself a little too worked up over one of the absolute lowest examples of mass media 'entertainment', but come on! If I wanted to laugh at people fearfully crapping themselves in the face of an increasingly unfortunate situation, I'd watch our local truck drivers continually crashing into bridges!


Gavok said...

I just watched the Dick Tracy movie a couple days ago, so that Flattop line floored me.

It's nice to see you writing an article about comics that... hey! Wait a goddamn minute here!

James Howard said...

Think of it as me warming up.

And also I was operating on the assumption that these kinds of comics can't possibly count.