January 14th, 2011

Snarky Candiru2

The irrelevance effect.

Looking back on the strip and, well, remembering how self-absorbed these people are tells me that my premise that the Pattersons' belief that childhood experiences have no effect should be qualified. What I should say is that they believe that only their own childhoods mattered or had any effect on anything. The reason I say that is that most of the people in Elly's generation have yet to get over their own upbringing. Let's remind ourselves of the horrors that our heroes suffered:

  • Elly: We've seen that she still resents it that Phil was able to 'get away' with so much despite being younger; her belief that it's due to his gender is only half-right. Jim's conservative nature and need to protect his oblivious know-it-all daughter from herself do explain how it is that she had earlier curfews and was denied certain things but I should think that if Elly were a man, the default cluelessness and idleness that define her would still hold her back despite having the magic organ.
  • John: He's not only still furious that his mother was the lead actor in his upbringing despite her not having a penisthe right to do so; he also resents his father for being an employee instead of an employer.
  • Connie: From what I can see, she is still pissed off that her parents longed for a son to carry on their name. Everything in her life has been one long attempt to show her parents that she's worth keeping around despite being the rebellious annoyance that the Pattersons falsely believe April to be.
  • Ted: Finally, we have the exception that tests the validity of the rule; what we have in Ted is a man so obsessed with the notion of being The Man Of The House that he didn't actually have a real life of his own until he was in his fifties. What he was doing was going through the motions so people didn't realize that his need to be responsible for the well-being of the mother who was trying to tell him to chill already and quit with the Honor-before-reason bullshit was why he did all that crazy stuff.

Except for Ted, the adults tend towards the belief that the banal social indignations they endured make them candidates for martyrdom. Elly, for instance, seems to have been the sort of frumpy, oblivious, frowny-faced annoyance Lizzie was in high school; instead of shrugging off the past and admitting that she's not alone in feeling like a wallflower, Flapandhonk wields her lonely nights and empty dance card like a sword. Since they don't really have too much in the way of empathy and are enraged by the idea that other people want to horn in on their misery, they tend to discount the concerns of their children as being trivial.