Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This comic is a play on the popular school-yard taunt, "Girls go to college, to get more knowledge; boys go to Jupiter, to get more stupider," also commonly heard as "Boys go to Mars, to get more candy bars; girls go to Jupiter, to get more stupider." The words "boys" and "girls" may be interchanged, depending on the gender of the person chanting. The schoolyard taunt embodies the competitiveness and separation commonly seen between young boys and girls, and ideas about the superiority of one's gender.
It should be noted that, historically, most higher education was preferentially or exclusively reserved for men, but that changed rapidly over the course of the 20th century. By the late 1970s more women than men were enrolling in college, and that trend has only increased, to the point where women make up nearly 60% of undergraduate students in American colleges and universities. This is an issue of substantial concern, because it reflects national trends in men failing to achieve academically. This comic may be pointing out that this gendered competition, which is often inculcated from an early age, is counter-productive, because it focuses on one gender succeeding at the expense of the other. In truth, human achievement is maximized when both men and women are given opportunities to gain skills and succeed.
The comic subverts the original rhyme by having both girls (Megan) and boys (Cueball) go to college to gain knowledge, and then using that knowledge to go to Jupiter as part of a space program, working in cooperation with other men (another Cueball-like guy) and women (Ponytail).
Going "to Jupiter, to get more stupider" is ironic considering that human beings have not yet even gone to Mars, so to go to Jupiter would take a huge amount of knowledge, investment, and further development of current technology. Likewise, people in space programs going to Jupiter would have advanced degrees, a great deal of knowledge, and a motivation to seek out more knowledge. Space programs and going to Jupiter would require the cooperation of many different people, men and women included, rather than the divisive atmosphere of the schoolyard.
The title text points out that by going to Jupiter you would get more knowledge, which is generally the purpose of any space program; that is, the purpose is to advance science, and it wouldn't actually be dumb at all. Therefore, the task of going to Jupiter is absolutely dependent on going to college, cooperation, and getting more knowledge; entirely the opposite of what the schoolyard taunt suggests.
- [Megan facing left is sitting on a stool at a table while studying. She is bent over her paper writing on it, while her laptop is standing open on top of two books lying in front of her. In front of her, just inside the panel to the left is the back and neck of another student sitting on a chair visible, with only the rear leg and back of the chair shown. Behind her just inside the panel to the right is the front end of another table, one leg visible, and here lies a pile of paper, as tall as the two books. Two frames above Megan narrates the poem:]
- Girls go to college
- To get more knowledge
- [Cueball facing right, is sitting on a chair at a table also studying. He is holding a piece of paper up in one hand head turned toward it. His other hand holds a page, with text shown as thin lines, in the open book lying in front of him. His laptop is standing open behind the book. In front of him, just inside the panel to the right is the back and arms of another student sitting on a chair visible, with only the rear leg and back of the chair shown. Behind him just inside the panel to the left is the front end of another table, one leg visible, and here lies a pile of four books. Two frames above Cueball narrates the poem:]
- Boys go to college
- To get more knowledge
- [Space launch control room with Megan and Cueball standing in the middle of the room working together. Megan sitting behind a table with a rectangular item on top, holds a model of the capsule that goes on the top of a space craft in her hand pointing to it with the other hand while Cueball standing to the right gestures at the model as well. To the left sits Ponytail in an office chair, she is wearing a head-set and sits in front of screen, just inside the panel, she seems to be controlling something, but no keyboard is visitable. Above her is another screen attached to the wall (off-panel). The the right there sits a Cueball-like guy on a chair, who is also working on some screen, which is mainly off-panel as is the front of his head. On the wall behind there hangs two pictures. The first shows the curve of a white planet against black space, two continents or clouds visible. There is an insert in the top left corner with a small drawing, and some text or number (unreadable) in the top right corner. The other picture seems to show a space craft with two large solar panels, white on the black black background of space. Has some similarities to the international space station. There are four white lines representing text labels pointing to different parts. One frame at the top narrates the poem:]
- Girls and boys
- [A large gray rocket with two lifter rockets, one on each side, launch into the black night, rising up with white fire out the end on top of a huge pile of gray exhaust smoke, that billows out filling the entire width at the ground level, where gray lines stars out on the black ground. A white rectangle right above the tip of the rocket narrates the poem (which first ends in the title text):]
- Go to Jupiter
Going to Jupiter was most famously explored in the film 2001 and its sequel 2010, where a space ship lands on the moon Europa. The film Outland is set on a mining operation on Jupiter's moon Io.
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I figured it was a poem. Turns out it is, of a sort.
188.8.131.52 04:50, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- The original poem is "Boys go to Jupiter, to get more stupider, girls go to college, to get more knowledge. 184.108.40.206 03:23, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
- Depends on where you are from I'm sure. Posted a link to a meme with the reverse version which is also currently used in the explanation. --Kynde (talk) 05:39, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
I thought of Men are from Mars Women are from Venus by John Gray and the response Men Are from Earth. Women Are from Earth: Deal with It by Gorge Carlin. If only the sexes could work together we could go to Jupiter.
--220.127.116.11 08:12, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- This is wonderful and I think in the same spirit as the comic. Stop the 'sex war' jokes and admit that both boys and girls want knowledge. And to arrive to Jupiter. 18.104.22.168 14:02, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- Both of you need to read some feminist literature (real feminist, not pop-feminist). 22.214.171.124 18:03, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- For example?--126.96.36.199 01:26, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
- Anything by "bell hooks" (it's a pen name, and it is all lowercase) 188.8.131.52 19:16, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
- https://excoradfeminisms.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bell_hooks-feminism_is_for_everybody.pdf 184.108.40.206 16:06, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
- Why would anyone need or even want to read anything like this‽ 220.127.116.11 20:04, 1 October 2014 (UTC)
I would interpret differently the two last pictures: as girls and boys SEPARATLY go to college to get knowledge, Girls and boys TOGETHER go to Jupiter, meaning when a boy and girl interact, they generally act stupid... 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- I cannot imagine the author of XKCD using going to Jupiter as an example of doing something stupid. Absolutely improbable IMHO.22.214.171.124 14:02, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- isnt thw rocket quite phallic? girlsnand boysngo to colledge to getmore....ehm... knowledge? 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- No, is only a rocket. But, thinking about your comment like it was a response from a rorschach test, well, it tell us something about yourself Chris-l (talk) 15:22, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- It tells us that he's drunk. 188.8.131.52 18:03, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- For rockets it's the aerodynamic, but some towers make you thinking, especially if some mayors compete who has it bigger ... I mean who has bigger tower in their city. -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:34, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
- After reading the discussion here, I actually support the sexual innuendo explanation. Consider what you learn with american college movies, xkcd's tendency to subvert ideas (remember it's a child's chanting) and the rocket analogy. Also, the title text may have the purpose of correcting the reader's dirty mind. 184.108.40.206 02:09, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
- 220.127.116.11 11:26, 22 April 2013 (UTC)Sometimes a rocket is just a rocket.
- Looks to me like a typical Titan rocket. Zelmo (talk) 14:15, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- I wish today's comic made me laugh. 18.104.22.168 14:30, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- "Go to Jupiter to get knowledge" is a reference to the movie 2001. Also, I remember hearing the poem as "GIRLS, go to COLL,ege so THEY can get, KNOW,ledge, BOYS, go to JUpiter so THEY, can get STUpider" which avoids the "more stupider" construction. 22.214.171.124 17:57, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
- knowledge or no knowledge, I don't want to go TO Jupiter. Near Jupiter, maybe. Ganymede? 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Not TOO near Jupiter either. Io is particularly unhospitable. Europe? -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:34, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
- Frankly, I am thanfull Mr. Munroe made this. This taunt, while never directly aimed at myself, was an irritant to me, a knowledge-lover. This comic reconciles the genders and deconstructs the taunt. (Of course, from what I had seen in my life, most school-age boys, even the adolescent ones, WOULD prefer getting stupider, what with their real-life trolling and immature behaviour.) Greyson (talk) 12:03, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
- Nah, most boys wouldn't like to be stupider, they are perfectly satisfied with how stupid they are :-) -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:34, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
By the way, I first head of the taunt (but with the clauses reversed) in Hey Arnold! Greyson (talk) 12:05, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Girls think going to Jupiter is stupid? Typical. XY FTW :P 188.8.131.52 12:25, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Hmmm, I saw the rocket blasting off as sexual inuendo. And the alt text/pop up reference about going to Jupiter to get more knowledge I took as gaining carnal knowledge. 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Currently the explanation says that '.. human beings arn't yet even capable of going to Mars.' This is patently false - it confuses ability with desire. I'm going to change the wording on that. 220.127.116.11 18:08, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
A manned mission to Jupiter would actually be pretty stupid since it's made of gas. They're better off going to one of the moons. Europa, maybe, or Ganymede. Jake (talk) 15:51, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Oy. There is some serious overthink going on here. Orazor (talk) 12:42, 24 September 2014 (UTC)
Why would you visit a gas giant with crippling gravity? The only thing stupider than going to Jupiter, is going to the sun, which is no fun. -- 00:02, 26 September 2014 (UTC)
Oh my God. The original taunt has nothing sexual content. This also doesn't. The rocket is really looking like a rocket launch, very clearly made, and not very much like a phallus, although in the right frame of (male) mind anything tower like can look like that. It is so clear that this comic is only about deconstructing a stupid taunt, and has noting to do with sex! Going on a manned mission to Jupiter, by the way, would always mean either going in to orbit or to one of the larger moons. But you would still not say we are going to "Europa" (the moon) but we are going to Jupiter (to land on Europa). That it would be hard to survive for long out there, due to heavy cosmic radiation enhanced by the strong magnetic field of Jupiter, may make it seem stupid to go there on a manned mission, but many people have sacrificed their lives on mission of exploration before in human history. So this may not even be seen as stupid if there where important knowledge to gain and I'm sure many people would be willing to die young after having seen the storm of Jupiter up close! (rant over :-) --Kynde (talk) 05:36, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
Well, now Cher goes to Jupiter. And Isaac Asimov knew it before.
http://www.images-booknode.com/book_cover/86/full/cher-jupiter-85720.jpg 18.104.22.168 08:51, 4 December 2016 (UTC)