Thursday, June 10, 2004

Here's the storyline from a cartoon from the British humor magazine Viz. It's a strip called "The Modern Parents", and it's from all the way back in 1992, by a guy named John Fardell. Malcolm and Cressida are the politically correct parents of Tarquin (age 8 or so) and Guinevere (age 2).

Tarquin and Guinevere are having their play session...

Cressida: Look, we can make a refugee camp with these chairs and rugs...I can be a Palestinian refugee, Guinevere can be an aid worker...And what are you going to be, Tarquin?
Tarquin: I'm going to be a F-111 jet bomber! Whee! Bang! Na-na-na-na! (Spreads arms and runs into pile of furniture, knocing it over.)


(Sign on wall: "House Meeting No. 307. Agenda: Tarquin's Violence.")
Cressida: Well, I think that Tarquin's displaying white, middle-class, male behaviour patterns of violence and cultural domination.
Malcolm: Don't you feel guilty about the damage and suffering your society has inflicted on the world?
Tarquin: No.
Malcolm: Well, you should. Remember, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
Tarquin: I don't care! This is boring. I'm going out to play football. (Leaves.)
Cressida: Hmm...I wonder how we can promote global peace awareness to young people like Tarquin in a more fun way...
Malcolm: I know! Let's hold a One World Weekend Peace Festival! Our ethically aware parents' group could organize it.
Cressida: Oh, yes! What a good idea. Vanessa and Dominic live in the countryside. We could use their llamas' paddock...

So, the next weekend...

(The family is on a tandem bicycle, Tarquin in a child seat on the back and Guinevere in a sack on Malcolm's back. Malcolm steers the bike across traffic on the wrong side, nearly hitting a bystander, two cars, and a truck. They are all wearing helmets and surgical masks.)
Malcolm: Aren't you glad we decided not to use our car for this trip, Tarquin?
Tarquin: I'm freezing, and it's dangerous.
Malcolm: Nonsense! We've got a greater moral right to this road space than these polluting car drivers...All roads should be turned into cycle-paths anyway.


Cressida: Hi, Dominic and Vanessa! How's it going?
Dominic: Really well! The young people are really getting into it!
Malcolm: Great: Right, I'll go and set up my stall...
(A sign, "One World Peace Festival", hangs over the paddock gate. Smiling adults are showing obviously very bored children activities like "African Vegan Cookery Workshop", "Llama Wool Weaving", "Carnival Mask Making", and "Ukrainian Story Telling". Malcolm is naked and massaging a naked Daphne's back with a stick next to a sign, "Aboriginal Digereedoo Back Massage". Ashley, her other, looks on in disgust.
Daphne: Mmm...Malcolm's really good at this, Ashley. He's so sensitive! You should try one...
(Sign: "Rainforest Hut")
Kid: Have you got any shrunken heads?
Dominic: These tribes live a peaceful existence at one with nature. They don't shrink heads.
Kid: Yes, they do! I saw it in a film! And they eat people!
Vanessa: Come on, Tarquin! Would you lile to join in our tai chi workshop?
Tarquin: What's tai chi?
Vanessa: Well, it's an ancient martial let your body flow through a series of movements, which...
Tarquin: Great! Kaiii-yah! (Kicks Vanessa in the knee.)
Vanessa: Ow! What on earth are you doing?
Tarquin: You said it was martial arts.
Vanessa: Tai chi is a passive martial art, Tarquin...perhaps you'd better go and do something else.
Trevor: Now, calm down, everyone...violence isn't clever, is it? No, it's not,, let's all find our centres again...
Kids: Hai-yaah! Cowabunga! Kapow! (All kick one another.)
Dominic: Hello, Tarquin! We're having a craft session making North American indigenous tribal artifacts.
Tarquin: Mega! Like bows and arrows?
Dominic: Well, er, yes...some of us are making bows and arrows, but we must remember that they aren't for fighting, only for hunting buffalo in a caring and sustainable why don't you make a nice clay cooking pot?
Tarquin: What are you making? (He's carving a tree trunk with a peace sign and a whale on it.)
Dominic: This is a totem pole...our daughter Lucinda's just started having her periods, so later today the Women's Ritual Dance Group are going to do a circle dance around this pole to celebrate her rite of passage into womanhood.
Tarquin: Hmmmm...

Vanessa: Right, we're ready to start our circle dance. Isn't it exciting, Lucinda?
Lucinda (embarrassed): Well,
Dominic: Great! Now where's my totem pole?
Claire: I think I saw Tarquin taking it off behind the trees with some of the other young people...
(The kids have tied Guinevere to the totem-pole and are racing around whooping and waving tomahawks and shooting arrows, with feathers in their hair.)
Everyone: Tarquin!
Cressida: How could you be so violent and irresponsible?
Tarquin: But that's what Red Indians do! I saw it on telly!
Claire: Well, my Luke and Amy don't normally behave so badly...I'm sure Tarquin must have coerced them!
Ashley (sees his chance): Yes, I propose an emergency meeting of the Ethically Aware Parents' Support Group to consider Malcolm and Cressida's validity as members, in view of Tarquin's inappropriate and disruptive behaviour!
Cressida: Are you saying we're bad parents?
Ashley: Well, our Joshua would never...
Claire: Well, I saw your Joshua eating a sausage roll last week...Really, Ashley, I'm not sure about your commitment to the vegan principles of this group...
Ashley: Well, you wear leather shoes!
Claire: That's a completely different issue!
Vanessa: Anyway you've no room to lecture anyone about ethics! My Zoe says your Oliver tells sexist jokes in the school playground!
Claire: Zoe doesn't even go to Oliver's school anymore! You took her out and sent her to some private place!
Vanessa: Zoe is a sensitive individual who needs special tuition!
Malcolm: Tarquin's very sensitive! I'd have expected more support from this group!
Trevor: Tarquin's a little brat!
Dominic: I resign from the group! I'm going to start a breakaway Ethically Conscious Parents' Action Organization!
Ashley: I'll join you! And I propose I be the chairperson!
Daphne: Typical! You're seeking power for yourself as usual! That's not setting our Joshua a very good example, is it?
Claire: Are you implying that our Oliver's thick?
Vanessa: Of course he's thick! He's a complete cretin and I know where he gets it from!
Cressida: I can't believe you just used that word! That's totally degrading to people with learning disabilities!
Dominic: You keep out of this, you silly bint!
Ashley: Well, thanks for the support, you bitch! Why don't you set up your own support group with Malcolm and find out how sensitive his bloody didgereedoo is!
Daphne: You bastard! You're just jealous!
Malcolm: I consider "brat" to be a patronising term of...oof!
Trevor (slugs Malcolm): Oh, give it a rest, you self-righteous git!
Vanessa (slugs Claire): And you can shut up, meat-eater!
Claire (pulls Vanessa's hair): Don't you call me a meat-eater!
Vanessa: You stuck-up cow!
Cressida: (kicks Dominic in the crotch: Sexist pig!
Dominic: Oww! You cunt!
Trevor: I'm going to report you to the anti-violence committee of...oof!
Ashley: Tart! Me, jealous, of that little jerk?
Daphne: Fuck off! (Slugs him.)
Malcolm (bashes Trevor with a sign reading "One World Peace Festival"): Eco-fascist! Eco-fascist!
(The kids sit around watching, hugely entertained.)

The program of the "One World Peace Festival" is curiously reminiscent of a certain event happening, like, right now somewhere around here, only twelve years later. I just wish the Forum would end up like this, with Maragall and Clos and Carod all beating the crap out one another.

Note the standard Viz narrative technique of having virtually every strip end with a knock-down and drag-out. "Violence and Swearing Galore" is what they promise their readers, and they don't stint on it.

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