dreadedcandiru2 (dreadedcandiru2) wrote,

Billingsley, Johnston and their mutual empathy gap.

As you know, we're coming up to the first installment of a long-term plot involving Uncle Phil: his having to quit cigarette smoking. The generalized premise behind the whole thing was that Phil is a spoiled brat who won't listen to the older sister who knows best, a pathetic Neanderthal who confuses the benevolent guidance of the women in his life with being neutered and an anti-social jackass who thinks that his need to puff his brains out is the only consideration that needs to be taken into account. The problem is that she accidentally lets it slip from time to time that Phil is pretty much terrified of failure. Unlike Jim who thought that since he never died of cancer that there was no proven link, Phil joins Candace aware of the risks involved. He also shares with Candace the fear that taking on adult responsibilities means turning into an embittered, angry failure so when things get dicey, the two of them will always have the urge to backslide.

The interesting thing is that this reminds me of the constant hectoring about quitting smoking on the comic strip Curtis. The protagonist can't seem to get that when his dad talks about there's a stress in his life that can only be calmed by a pack of menthols, what would make Greg quit for good is if Curtis turned into the grinning drone who always agreed with authority figures and never bothered questioning what anyone older than he was said that Billingsley holds out as an ideal of childhood. In both cases, we're dealing with a child who should gleefully cast himself into a furnace if an adult told him to who needs to accept that he owes the stupid blind obedience.

Ah. well. At least the humorless granite block of moral absolutism calling himself Ray Billingsley has the courage of his grim, anti-human convictions. When he says that Greg is a fool, Curtis an annoyance and smoking as much a device of Satan as his main character, he means it. He's not like Lynn who only objects to cigarettes because she hates the smell. If she liked it, the Pattersons would be accompanied by their own personal smog cloud.
Tags: elly on her cross, phil: bee and bop king, surgically attached hat

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