1408: March of the Penguins

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March of the Penguins
You ARE getting older, though.
Title text: You ARE getting older, though.

[edit] Explanation

Several of the xkcd comics outline ways to make people feel older by referencing various pieces of popular culture which feel ingrained and "recent", and revealing the time that has elapsed since their release to be longer than expected (for instance, 1393: Timeghost and 891: Movie Ages).

This appears to be what Black Hat is doing as he walks in on Megan to announce that all the penguins from a 2005 documentary March of the Penguins about emperor penguins are dead. Megan is familiar with these sorts of antics and assumes Black Hat is indicating that the film is so old that the lifespan of emperor penguins is less than the time since the documentary was released. Frustrated, Megan simply acknowledges Black Hat's statement by agreeing that everyone is aging. Black Hat, however, reveals that he is not trying to make her feel old, because the penguins were all alive "last night" and all died in one instance since then and thus not from old age.

His announcement that he is "trying to apologize" creates the obvious inference that he caused the penguins to be killed (either intentionally or by mistake). This gives the situation a much darker tone; especially since Black Hat likely is not truly apologizing, as he is very unapologetic in his "classhole" tendencies, and just wish to mess even further with Megan.

Emperor penguins actually live about 20 years on average, so presumably, barring any intervention by Black Hat, most of the younger penguins and many of the older penguins in the movie are still alive as of the time of release of this comic comic in 2014 nine years after the documentary was released.

The title text emphasizes that whatever the penguins' fate, we do get and are getting older. this is presented as a last jab by Black Hat as he departs just to make Megan feel a bit worse. So in the end this comic did try to make the reader feel older.

This also presents an alterative take on the entire comic:
Black Hat came in to make Megan feel old because all the penguins of the movie is actually naturally dead of old age, predators, disease etc. And if she likes the movie, she would not have realized that it was almost nine years ago she saw it, and the feel old by realizing how time passed. But she ruins Black Hat's moment by realizing what he is trying to do. (As opposed to what he manages in a comic like 493: Actuarial, that might also make you feel old). So instead of saying yeah you got me, he quickly invents a story that they actually all lived last night, and then takes the blame for killing them just to shock Megan.

This fits with the title text, as he then manages to make a jab at how old Megan should feel anyway. Another point is that it is both totally unrealistic that Black Hat could cause all these penguins to die simultaneously as they would be spread over a large are of water and ice in the Antarctica. And secondly, although the movie was released in January 2005, the team behind it had filmed the penguins for 13 month prior, so some of the penguins in the movie must have been adult back in 2003. So it is not only nine but rather eleven years ago and several of the penguins in the movie must have died of natural causes prior to this comic, although not all! But Black Hat's fake statement indicates that all of them where still alive yesterday.

The worst part of this, is that it seems like Megan believes him, but she of course also knows him to be a class hole (see for instance 596: Latitude) and might believe him capable of locating and exterminating all the penguins from the movie over night...

[edit] Transcript

[Black Hat walks towards Megan who is sitting in an office chair at a desk working on her laptop.]
Black Hat: All the birds from March of the Penguins are now dead.
[In a frame-less panel only Megan is shown. She sits back from the laptop taking her hands down on her legs. Black Hat replies from off-panel.]
Megan: OK, I get it. We're all aging.
Black Hat (off-panel): What? No.
[Black Hat is in the frame again holding one hand slightly out towards Megan who has turned around in her office chair and is now facing Black Hat.]
Black Hat: I'm not trying to make you feel old. They were alive last night.
Black Hat:I'm trying to apologize.
Megan: Oh God


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Discussion

Isn't it Danish not Megan? 141.101.99.195 05:30, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

No, Danish has longer hair. 108.162.245.47 05:37, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

That is a good point on the point for "Is it Danish, or Megan?", but Danish would have probably helped Black Hat kill the penguins. Another thing to add is Danish won't react like that, but Megan would be more likely. -Swaphero

Also, if it were Danish, she would have a good come back for black hat. 108.162.216.108 13:54, 15 August 2014 (UTC)BK

Would Movie Ages (http://www.xkcd.com/891) be just as pertinent, if not more so, than Timeghost? Should we include a reference to it in the explanation? 173.245.54.170 14:08, 15 August 2014 (UTC)DBrak

Good idea. I think we should, so I've included that reference now.
--Das-g (talk) 14:42, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

This is totally off-topic, but I can't help myself. I remember reading somewhere that the film was made by a French team (I think) and they realized they had a hit on their hands. But when they were negotating with a distributor for the USA market that it was demanded that all reference to the penguins' amazing behavior being due to their evolutionary development had to be removed. "Evolution" was a dirty word for the USA market. --RenniePet (talk) 22:28, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't think RenniePet's comment is off-topic; the same audience that they deleted "Evolution" for used it as an example for family values and ID - is the "Oh God" dialog an allusion to whether Black Hat been playing God? --FractalgeekUK (talk) 00:17, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
I found a NY Times article on the evolution point: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/13/science/13peng.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print 173.245.52.99 01:23, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

A thought: possibly at least partially inspired by much-repeated note about current events as of the time of writing -- with Lauren Bacall's death, all the people mentioned in Madonna's Vogue are dead. 173.245.52.215 03:33, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Finally, we get some Black Hat antics! Have you noticed that Randall has lately done less Black Hat comics? Or is just me? 173.245.48.90 20:43, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Am I missing something? Nobody seems to ask WHY Black Hat apparently killed the penguins or even HOW (?!) 141.101.98.251 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There is nothing in the comic, or in any other comic that would indicate why or how he would have done it, or even if it was just a mistake. So what should we include? Anything would be speculation. That Black Hat might do it just to make Megan sad is enough reason for me. Also he might just come to her to apologize just t make her think he is joking with the feeling old. Last point could be that he might not even have killed them, but when Megan spoiled his joke by realizing that he was trying to make her feel old, he quickly invented the killing story to upset her anyway. The title text kind of reinforces this, since he then anyway get to tell her she should feel old. --Kynde (talk) 14:38, 10 November 2016 (UTC) (Just added this idea to the explanation...)
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