Go to this comic explanation
|| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Anything missing? Or too much? - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
This is the first comic to combine the My Hobby series with the theme of listing facts that make one feel old.
In the comic Cueball (as Randall, as it is his hobby) is asking White Hat if he wants to feel old. (This exact opening phrase was used by Megan in 1898: October 2017). Cueball doesn't wait for an answer, though like Megan did, but tells White Hat that MC Hammer just turned 40. Surprisingly, at first, this doesn't really make White Hat feel old, he actually feels this is rather normal (compared to his own age). MC Hammer is a pop rapper/singer who was most popular in the early 1990's for U Can't Touch This with the catch phrase Stop: Hammer Time, and shiny baggy pants often incorrectly referred to as parachute pants.
So at first it seems that Randall's attempt to make White Hat feel old has failed miserably. However in the caption Randall explains that this is part of his hobby. By "lowballing" the facts to begin with he can make people feel really old when he tells them the truth, so they learn that the correct number (age/years ago, your age at the time etc.) is even worse than the first opening statement.
In the title text he then tells White Hat the "truth": "Wait, sorry, I got mixed up--he's actually almost 50. It's the kid from The Karate Kid who just turned 40." So this suddenly adds ten more years to MC Hammers age, and that little kid from the Karate Kid movies... is he already 40 years old. Now White Hat probably feels a bit old. In the original The Karate Kid (the first 3 movies) Ralph Macchio was the actor who starred as Karate Kid. And he seemed so young...
The real blow, comes when White Hat (and most likely the reader), now intrigued goes home and looks these two people up on Wikipedia. Ralph Macchio was already much older than the kid he portrays in the movie, a school kid - he was 22 years oldwhen shooting the first movie. On the day this comic came out, both MC Hammer and Ralph Macchio were both 56 years old. And Ralph is the older one of the two being born in 1961, while Hammer was born in 1962.
So even in the title text, the corrections are both "lowballed" facts, so still preserving the maximum effect while adding more credibility to the claims, so people already start to feel old before the last 6 years is added to Hammer's and 16(!!) years to Macchio's age.
Of course, this is assuming they do look it up, and if they believe Randall the first time, there is no reason to assume this will happen. However, then they probably already feel old from the first correction.
Note that in the other make one feel old comics Randall did not apparently indulge in this new hobby of lowballing facts. As far as we can tell, those were all accurate for the time the comic was created. But if this is a new hobby, we may need to examine newer "feel old" comics extra carefully from now on. (If we want to feel even older that is.)
- [Cueball and White Hat are walking together.]
- Cueball: Want to feel old? MC Hammer just turned 40.
- White Hat: Wow.
- White Hat: I mean, I guess that's not too surprising, right?
- White Hat: It's been a long time.
- [Caption below the panel:]
- My hobby: Deliberately lowballing "Want to feel old" factoids to set up a bigger payoff later when they learn the correct number.
Don't be a jerk.
There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.
If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.
Please only submit material directly related to (and helping everyone better understand) xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.