Balls In The Air

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

(Embiggenation can be achieved by clicking frantically on any image on this page.)

WANT TO MEET ME IN PERSON, TAKE PICS TOGETHER, AND WATCH ME SIGN MY NAME ON THINGS? You can do these things and more by finding yourself at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower in downtown Portland, Oregon on Sunday, May 28th at 1pm. I’ll be there with lots of copies of my new coloring book and one of my Bizarro cartoon books along with a couple dozen other famous cartoonists. (We’re having our annual cartoonists convention there that weekend and this is the only public event involved so don’t miss it!) Hope to see you there!
What we have here is a funny joke with lovely art that begs numerous questions, two of which are these: Were chainsaws invented while sailors still dressed this way, or was there at least one special place where sailors still dressed this way after chainsaws were invented? I don’t pretend to know the definitive answer but I’m guessing there was at least one old-time-sailor-themed gay bar in San Francisco after chainsaws were invented where this could have happened. Even if there wasn’t, keep in mind that this cartoon feature is called “Bizarro,” not “Normalo”.

As I knew I would, I got a few questions about the meaning of this protest cartoon. If you’re not up on Internet pop culture, first of all, congratulations. I envy you. Some of us have to keep up with this drivel in order to make fun of it in cartoons.

Secondly, there’s this thing where companies invest millions on short videos that are longer than TV commercials but are essentially just commercials that they hope will go what “viral”, which, contrary to your first thought does not mean they will make you sick, though they often do, but that people will like them so much they will forward and post them like crazy and they will reach millions of people without having to pay to show them on TV. In short, you are expected to do the work of spreading the corporation’s message without being paid.

So recently Pepsi did this with a video in which one of the lesser-known Kardashians (oh, God, there’s MORE of them?!––yes, she’s a product of the Kardashian/Jenner coupling) is on a super suave, exclusive, chic fashion shoot when a crowd of good-looking young people march past in protest of something. She is moved by this and walks away from her $10,000-per-hour shoot to join them. They are all drinking Pepsis (the choice of activists everywhere) and soon come to a line of bad-ass police officers in riot gear who look like the sort who would shoot an unarmed person because they are not white, and the young, attractive people all stop in their tracks. The Kardashian/Jenner girl then bravely rubs two braincells together and generates enough friction to have an idea, which is this: she marches up to a cop and hands him her Pepsi. He takes a sip, smiles, everyone cheers and laughs, and all of America’s political, social, and racial problems are solved by high fructose corn syrup and attractive youngsters.

This super expensive commercial was immediately (and justly) attacked vehemently by everyone with a detectable IQ who saw it, and the resulting social media pressure to remove it from the Interwebs caused Pepsi to take it down immediately. I can understand how Ms. Jenner got sucked into this gig––a girl’s gotta work and scripts look very different from the final product––but how none of the many dozens of people who saw that video before it launched didn’t catch how offensive to the families of innocent dead people it was is anyone’s guess. In defiance of my more cynical side, I’m assuming it was an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes” situation and some people “got it” but were afraid to speak up. But who knows? Everyone working for Pepsi and whatever godawful ad agency dreamed up this steaming turd might actually be stupid enough to believe that any topic can be used to sell more shit. Because this is America, and convincing people that they don’t currently own enough crap to be happy is what we do best.

But American capitalists are not the only ones paying poor Ms. Jenner to step in the political correctness dung pile. Vogue India  just announced their 10th anniversary issue and released a sneak preview of the cover which has the same Kardashian/Jenner spawn on the cover. The problem with that is that she is not Indian, she just kind of looks Indian. Many disgruntled Vogue readers are asking if all of the Indian women (in a country of 1.3+ billion people) were too busy for the shoot.

This is the part about racism that certain people don’t understand. Even though lynch mobs are on the decline and it is technically illegal to deny a person services because of their race, being routinely passed over for white people even in small, seemingly unimportant ways, erodes an entire race’s self esteem and we’d be wise as a society to stop doing that.

Speaking of unapologetic, unrestrained capitalism, here’s a cartoon about a guy who thinks he can buy anything he wants if he has enough money, just like every member of Trump’s White House staff and cabinet, and completely unlike 99% of the relatively small number of Americans who voted for the Cheeto Mussolini and, if their hero gets his way, are about to be without health coverage. That’s not just great, it’s great again!

There’s no hidden political message to this plant psychologist cartoon. Yes, I’m glad too.

Oh, no, here comes one with hidden meaning again. I actually think this might be my favorite cartoon of the week. Humans are pack animals (a dog term) and with that comes pecking order (a chicken term) so from an evolutionary perspective, we kind of can’t help forming groups and cliques and castes, which means some folks rise to the top and others are excluded and pushed to the bottom (a salad dressing metaphor). Well, we can help it, but we have to exert an awful lot of effort to do stuff like see things from someone else’s perspective, admit that much of what we think of as “truth” is just the way we were raised, and behave compassionately toward people who are different from us because the fact that they are different does not make them evil.

It starts with a simple lapel being worn by the “in” crowd, but it ends with anyone not wearing a flag pin being accused of being a terrorist in disguise (even though any terrorist worthy of fearing would know that already and wear not only a flag pin but also a Confederate flag T-shirt and a red hat about America’s impending greatness.)

In these riotously difficult political times, it is tempting to say “If only those people would understand that…(insert fact about something important.)”

BUT WAIT…Some scientists in the field of genetics are pointing to evidence of the possibility that every thought we have may be a chemical reaction brought about by our exact genetic makeup, and that something as fundamental to our beliefs about ourselves as FREE WILL might actually be an illusion. Yes. An illusion. It’s possible you only think you have a variety of choices, but given your exact genetic map, you can and will only make one decision in any given situation. WFT!?

If that’s true, where does it leave us? No one could be blamed for anything they believe or do because they are programmed to believe and do exactly those things, with no choice in the matter. They only think they have a choice. Out the window goes religion, morals, ethics, crime, elections, and just about every manner in which we judge ourselves and each other. No one would be guilty of anything any more than a baby is guilty of pooping its diaper. It’s shaky ground, to say the least, but entirely biologically possible.

The Mr. Potato Head toy was invented in 1952, six years before my parents’ genetic programming compelled them to do something disgusting that resulted in my conception. A few years after that, my mother’s genetic programming compelled her to purchase a Mr. Potato Head toy for me and my older sister, place it under the tree on Christmas morning, and lie to us about where it came from by saying a magical, flying fat man from the Arctic had brought it while we slept. In those days, kids had to attach the body parts and accessories to actual fruits or vegetables because the genetic programming of the people running the toy company had not yet compelled them to include a plastic potato in the package. That didn’t happen until 1964. Here’s the original.

After I finished this cartoon I found out that there actually are backpacks with solar panels that can charge your cell phone and they aren’t as elaborate or problematic as the one pictured. Oh well.

I was trying to make a point about how we sometimes inconvenience ourselves with technology that is supposed to make our life simpler and give us more leisure time. Often, it just absorbs our life force like a vampire and we end up robbing ourselves of real life in favor of what’s happening in the tiny glass rectangle on our phone. Whatever.

Thanks for dropping by, Jazz Pickles. I cherish this time we imagine we’re spending together. I hope you’ll consider helping Olive Oyl and me keep the campfire burning at Rancho Bizarro by clicking one or more of the options below. Until next time, be smart, be happy, and be nice.