Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This comic makes fun of the common situation of a messy car, using a hyperbolic scenario of that car containing decaying animals, in this case a raccoon. The joke being that such a car is so disgusting that a dead raccoon is not the worst thing that one might encounter. The humor comes from the car owner seeming to be used to a dead raccoon and the implications of what might be worse than a dead raccoon.
This is the polar opposite of 1267: Mess, where the person apologizes for a nearly non-existent mess. Here, the person minimizes a completely atrocious mess into a quick fix situation. The form of the comic is that of a pro-tip, which tells the reader what the phrase "I just have to clear a few things out of the back" really means.
'Protips' are used to give snarky, obvious or inadequate advice, in order to either humor a well-learnt audience or to prank a naïve audience. This phenomenon originated in a gaming magazine column offering advice on Doom: "To defeat the Cyberdemon, shoot at it until it dies." Randall has given us several Protips in the past as well.
The title text further exposes the reality of the person's knowledge of how bad the situation really is when he acknowledges the existence of the dead raccoon while trying to usher the live one to the same side. Protip: Sitting next to a dead and a live raccoon is not an improved scenario, as the dead raccoon would probably be decaying, leaking bodily fluids into the back seat, staining the seat and making it wet, while the live raccoon may be aggravated, and possibly attacking the occupants of the vehicle.
- [Caption above the panel.]
- [Cueball is holding the back door of his car open. Wiggly lines emanate from the back seat area. Megan and another Cueball-like guy are stand next to the car, looking at each other.]
- Cueball: Hang on, I just have to clear a few things out of the back.:
- [Caption below the panel.]
- When you hear "I just have to clear a few things out of the back," you are about to see, at minimum, a decaying raccoon.
- The title text originally contained a grammatical error, "same side of the dead one", which was later corrected by Randall.
- Raccoons also feature in a disgusting situation in 1025: Tumblr.
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The backseats of some cars are really messy. I have yet to see any dead animals though, unless you count hamburgers.
220.127.116.11 04:30, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
I wrote a very quick first draft of the explanation. This is my first time writing from scratch, so feel free to take it all down and start over. Also, my first time posting a comment, so sorry for inevitable formatting errors. 18.104.22.168 04:33, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- Welcome! I would say that to me this is not a comic about how raccoons always end up in the back seat of cars, but more a comic about how the phrase "clear a few things out of the back" is always an understatement/euphemism for disgusting stuff that's back there. In my opinion he just chose dead raccoon because of how gross that is. Bbruzzo (talk) 04:36, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- The raccoon is on purpose. They like to rummage through trash. Unless you mean, 'why was it dead'? If that, then because of how bad keeping trash and never cleaning it is like that of how hoarders live (where dead animals are often found). Azule (talk) 07:36, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- I don't think the explanation addresses the "understatement" aspect, that you mention, directly enough. Someone, please integrate it. Azule (talk) 07:41, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- Hello. I'm sorry, I rewrote the explanation. It appears to be about raccoons being attracted to trash and therefore how the person's car is basically a trashcan on wheels. Azule (talk) 07:36, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
I for one am mildly offended by this comic; while I am lazy about when I throw out bags of trash that often find their way to the back seat--mostly stuff like "trays that used to contain pecan twirls" or soda bottles--I do at least keep it wrapped up in ready-to-throw-out plastic bags to hide the smell, and under no circumstances do I leave enough food for a raccoon to go hunting in my back seat. (Please note *mildly* offended; I get it's just a comic.) Also, I hope it's okay to fix obvious typos in other people's comments, because I just did that.PsyMar (talk) 07:20, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- I fixed the formatting in the comments section a bit, so I'm sure that fixing typos is fine, too (as long as it actually is a typo). Azule (talk) 07:36, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- Speaking of typos, the hovertext should read "Hang on, let me scare the live raccoon over to the same side as the dead one." (not "of", as it is/was at the time of this comment). Cosmogoblin (talk) 08:09, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- To be clear, that's an official typo. A "[sic]" could be added to the transcript, if you prefer, until it is fixed, if that ever happens. Azule (talk) 08:36, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- I was wondering if that was not just American grammar, conflicting with my British education. (There's plenty of other instances. e.g. it's "I'll write to you", for me; not "I'll write you", which just sounds wrong in my ears but obviously not to Leftpondians where their use of the lone transitive verb is expanded. Although I'll gladly say "I'll've writ summat for ya...", in the right context, so 'go figure'.) Anyway, if it's not a 'merkinism, what's the original intention in the phrase? "..the same side that the dead one is currently (possessed/in possession) of"...? That sounds unwieldy but, as before, there's possibly something in some dialect or other that works. 22.214.171.124 11:58, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- I think it was originally "[move] to the [other] side of [the car]". "Of" is being used geographically. The way it is now, "as" would be used comparatively. If we were to take this typo at face value, your suggestion seems as well as any. It's not a merkinism, btw. Merkins are pubic hair wigs.... Azule (talk) 22:04, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- Randall has fixed it to "as" now.. 126.96.36.199 02:35, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
- It is meant to say that he will make the live raccoon move over to the same side of the car as the dead raccoon, thus freeing up a sear in the back row for his friend. Bbruzzo (talk) 16:29, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
Added my very first transcript. If there are errors in formatting etc. please fix them 05:37, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
Added my first description (added explanation for 'Protip') - thoughts? 188.8.131.52 13:12, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
- I'm not sure that I agree, that in this comic, that protip is a snarky/joke thing. But I might be wrong, so nothing to change for now. Azule (talk) 22:04, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
The tooltip is officially corrected to "as". The "of [sic]" should be put in trivia or something. 184.108.40.206 03:41, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
I have a story that's not entirely related to the comic, but I wanted to share it anyway. The house I grew up in was cheaply made and falling apart all my life. Leaks in the ceiling, rats and cockroaches infesting, and the like. We eventually moved into a new place, leaving the old place behind to fend for itself. Years later, we went back to clear it out so we could sell it to people that wanted to renovate (it had a very nice yard and was in a nice neighborhood). When we opened the door, there were dry corpses of every kind of local rodent. Rats, possums, raccoons, and possibly other things that I didn't recognize. You could not walk into (or through) any of the rooms without stepping on them. It was so surreal that not a single one of us (teenagers and young children) thought "Eww! Dead things!" despite any kind of roadkill triggering a gag-reflex at the sight of it nowadays. 220.127.116.11 17:41, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
I disagree with "The joke being that such a car is so disgusting that a dead raccoon is not the worst thing that one might encounter." and what follows from that. In my view, the actual messiness of a car varies greatly for every time the phrase "I just have to clear a few things out of the back" is used. So, in my view the joke is that the messiness of the car is extrapolated to way beyond standards. The title text is just a further extrapolation. 18.104.22.168 22:54, 20 January 2016 (UTC)