September 29th, 2010

Angry Candiru

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Today's strip pretty much explains who and what John is as a parent; that's because he not only reveals himself to be a firm believer in what someone called a favor bank system of morality, he's filled with rage when his 'moral' code is questioned.

(Strip Number 4073, Original Publication Date, 1 October 1981)

Panel 1: John angrily exclaims to a baffled Mike that he is not to young to do some (age-inappropriate) work around the house.

Panel 2: In fact, he says, he OWES it to them.

Panel 3: That's because he and Elly pay for his clothes, his food, his education....

Panel 4: Mike's asking him if he asked to be born in the first place makes John's skin turn magenta with rage like he's so much Sinestro.

Summary: I'm dying to see the notes on this abomination. That's because I want to know how Lynn justifies John's self-serving and evil belief that he's somehow owed not only labor from his children but praise for performing the legal obligations of feeding, housing and clothing them; as Chris Rock said, "You're supposed to, you dumb mother[boxcar]!!!" I also want to see her justify his and Elly's seeing defiance where none exists; this is not the first time he or Elly interpret a disagreement as both a harbinger of chaos and an excuse for massive retaliation and it won't be the last. Lastly, I want to see how she justifies their total lack of empathy for their children.
Snarky Candiru2

John and Elly Patterson, you fail Economics (and Ethics) forever...

The problem that I have with John and Elly's favor-bank system of morals is that not only is it immoral, it flies in the face of standard accounting practices. Let's start with the core belief that makes a misery of their children's lives; simply put, John and Elly believe that every cent that they spend on their children is an voluntary expense that has to be made good instead of an involuntary obligation incurred owing to their actions. The children cannot survive without food and shelter so the people who brought them into the world are obliged to provide it; to suggest otherwise is to declare moral bankruptcy. One is supposed to look after one's children so to rant that it's some sort of bonus is to be less than human. The interesting thing is that their parents have no such expectation; nothing I've seen in the strip's history indicates that the Richardses or senior Pattersons labored under that inhumane misapprehension or that John and Elly would tolerate for long the notion that they were expected to make good the sacrifices their parents gladly made on their behalf. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that John and Elly never really grew up; we see it when John balks at spending his money on things that he doesn't use (kitchen renovations, new appliances, presents the children won't let him play with and so on and so forth) while lavishing himself with toys as reward for dealing with his wife and kids and we see it when our nose is rubbed in the fact that even during the Settlepocalypse, Elly was still the know-nothing know-it-all she was in High School. What's more, we see it when howtheduck's least favorite pattern of behavior comes into play; that annoyance, of course, being their astonishing lack of gratitude. Not only do they not thank people, they complain that it's not enough.

The worst of it, though, is that they get so defensive when their dickish way of life is questioned; you've never endured question-begging, hysteria and irrational cross-accusations until you ask a Patterson "What the Hell, Hero?" This is owing to another stupid hang-up of theirs: their inability to gauge what the children are capable of. There's nothing that reminds us that John has no idea what Mike is all about like his breezy assumption that his son has the inclination or ability to wash the car or rake the lawn; he probably also expects Lizzie to be able to balance a checkbook.