Friday, September 21, 2007

Cucumbers and porn

-Does anyone else have trouble digesting cucumber peels? I had the worst stomach ache last night, but not in an involuntary-expulsion-of-body-fluids kind of way. And it's gone now. I guess I'll have to throw out all that couscous salad.

-For once, I'd like to see a story tangentially related to Fantagraphics appear on the Beat that doesn't result in the same bunch of hicks turning out to defend the honor of whatever happens to be opposed to Gary Groth's evil empire this week. Would this guy be complaining if the book in question had been a decapitation-heavy issue of JSA? (Kind of an ad hominem attack on my part, but check this out. And this and this. Sorry--I've been annoyed by his comments for a while, and I decided to try to figure out if there's a pattern. Yes there is--this is exactly the sort of consumer who makes the Direct Market such a shithole.)

Also, what happened to Mark Engblom? I used to think he was a kind of amusing presence in the comics blogosphere, kind of like a friend's older brother who would occasionally hang out, but was always kind of clucking his tongue at what was going on, yet would occasionally say something that made everyone at least tolerant of his presence. But now, man? I think he's the type who would totally narc on us for having a few, harmless beers. Christ, dude, he apparently wants this very blog to go away! More importantly, I have to think he's out of his fucking mind or a really lazy debater or maybe just not all that smart (see the link to the Beat above; while you're at it, also look here, with response here). I used to think you were Chuck Cunningham, Mark, but I guess you're just Wayne Arnold, with maybe a little Jared from Subway thrown in.

Anyway, my take is this: in this day and age, human reproduction is a crime against the environment, and anyone who comments with a "you don't understand cause you are a childless libertine" argument should be viewed in this light (ie, as criminals). And really, the conventional family structure will soon be obsolete, as global warming and the energy crisis force us to move towards a more communal living system. That's another good reason to think of procreation as a felonious act against human civilization. Who's going to feed all these kids, once society has collapsed? Not Mark Engblom, I bet.

(To be fair, high schools will be long gone by then as well. Hey, was anyone else reminded of the fourth season of The Wire when they heard the details about this story? Are the administrative types in today's high schools even trying to maintain the illusion of providing children with an education? I kept thinking of poor Mr. Prezbo, trying to get his students interested in math by teaching them how to beat the odds when shooting craps. How in the hell are you supposed to teach art history to kids without being accused of pedophilia? Do they even try to teach art history in high school anymore?)

One final note: someone claiming to be the mother of the girl in question left this comment. I assume this has been confirmed, since Heidi hasn't put up any kind of disclaimer. Boy, am I glad I'm not a high school teacher, let alone a junior high or elementary school teacher. Joe Rice, how do you juggle the need to keep kids interested and the need to avoid lawsuits?

9 comments:

MarkAndrew said...

Ha. I read that on the Beat.

Then I thought, man, that dude is acting like a total douchebag. I hope that Hyacinth notices that.

His POV isn't that far away from any of the other comment-leavers, as far as I can see. But it seems that he's just completely terrified that someone might find some kind of literary value in a comic book that he has to distract them by being an asshole.

Lambo said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry about the second linked comment where he wants to deny people success in other genres. I'm sure he's not the only one, but him being so blunt about it just makes it even more disheartening.

Mark Engblom said...

Geez, the least you could do is link to my site.

Matt Brady said...

Good god, you're right, Dick. It's got to be ridiculous to walk that fine line between what is and isn't appropriate for school, especially in that 7th-9th grade period, when some kids might be ready for more mature stuff while others might not. I'll have to talk to my wife about that; she's an elementary school art teacher. Damn.

Joe Rice said...

This story freaks me out, but not nearly as much as the reaction to it. People are freaking out at a comic that is less graphic or shocking than most novels read by 9th graders. But it's a comic so some folks' ick factors go nuts. Reading the comments at the Beat nearly killed me as a fan of the artform and as a public school teacher and as a (semi)-parent.

Dick, yeah, I've avoided this kind of attention. First thing, the comics I give out to kids are very much tamer . . .I teach elementary, and, until this year, early elementary. I give out Archies, books based on cartoons, etc. The raciest my stuff gets is a Simpsons comic or Monster Society. But that doesn't mean I'm immune, by any means.

My school is plagued by uninvolved parents, for one thing. This hasn't been true for some of my classes, especially the one I was the closest to, but a lot of parents of students at my school don't really have the time to be very involved with their kids' reading habits. They're just glad they're reading. I also have had the privilege of making sure the parents know me. I've been at the school six years now, and most folks know me in the neighborhood. I kind of stick out. And when I teach kids I make a point of getting to know the parent, partially to help prevent this kind of asinine freakout.

So, short form: get involved with the kids, so they know you care. Get involved with the parents, so they know you care and you're upright and all that. Get involved with administration so they know what's going on. As a first or second-year teacher, obviously this poor guy didn't have that chance.

I understand the parent's concern, but not anyone's reaction to it.

Dick Hyacinth said...

My brother is actually student teaching for art now, and he's a little worried about these kinds of things. He's real big on a multicultural (or maybe culturally pluralistic--not sure which term is preferred in EPS circles) approach to art education, but he worries that nearly every artist has something in their oeuvre which will offend someone. He's limiting his classroom materials to the (generally) non-offensive, but what if some kid takes a liking to Robt. Williams, seeks out more of his stuff, then gets busted by his parents for having a book full of naughty drawings? Then it's my brother who introduced him to that stuff, and you know the parents will want to blame him for corrupting their child's mind. (This is all hypothetical of course; I don't think my brother even likes Robt. Williams, plus I think he'd avoid showing anything by him in class. But what if it's Mark Ryden or some graffiti artist?)

I think there's something to say about the nature of the public disapproval of mature comics, but I think I'll wait for a little of the heat to die down before I consider saying anything along these lines. Of course, there will probably be some new controversy informing such discussions by then....

Matt Brady said...

I talked to my wife about it (and got her to read the issue of Eightball in question, which is cool), and she definitely expressed some worries about these sorts of issues. As a teacher of elementary art, she pretty much avoids any sort of art that contains nudity or elements that might be offensive (although that can be hard to tell; you never know what's going to offend somebody). One specific example she gave was Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase", which she teaches, but just refers to as "Descending a Staircase". This is not only to cover her ass in the case of kids running home to tell their parents about the nude painting they looked at, but also because the kids would get hung up on the word "nude" and not be able to consider anything else. She also mentioned that she is always careful to keep the door open if she has only one or two students in the room, just to be sure nothing could happen to get her in trouble. Man, it would drive me crazy to have to worry about that sort of thing every day.

Actually, one thing I reacted to in the mother's response to the thread on The Beat was when she said "you can't be too careful these days", or something to that effect, basically saying that everyone is a suspected child molester. This sort of statement always bugs me; were there no pedophiles 50 years ago? It's just that we're so damn sensitive now, and ready to accuse somebody and ruin their lives at the slightest offense. It's ridiculous, and it drives me crazy.

Margo said...

Yes, I have trouble with cucumbers. I just ate one and have "the" stomachache.

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