611: Disaster Voyeurism
The comic is referring to a phenomenon known as gaping or rubbernecking. The terms are applied to people who stand around as spectators at the site of a disaster. Apparently, many people are attracted to terrible scenes out of a sort of morbid curiosity. While fascinated by the spectacle, most people also feel a sense of shame and guilt at the same time, knowing it to be morally wrong to be entertained by other's misfortunes.
This feeling of conscience is expressed in the comic by Megan, who secretly cherishes hope that a hurricane might strike. Black Hat on the other hand regards these feelings as perfectly natural. In the course of the comic, it becomes clear that he actually enjoys it when other people are hit by tragedies. He reveals that he even actively promotes the tragic fates of others. His being a sadist concurs with the characterisation depicted in other comics. Megan understands that the two of them are in fact leading entirely different conversations, as Black Hat is not in the least able to comprehend her scruples.
The title text aims at hurricane enthusiasts in internet forums, who are distracted by their scientific curiosity from the danger a hurricane may present to humans.
- [Megan is watching TV. Black Hat is leaning on the back of her chair.]
- Megan: I've realized that I always secretly root for hurricanes. I watch the news hoping that they'll get really big and hit a city. I know my hopes don't actually affect it, but I feel bad.
- Black Hat: Nah, that's just natural human attraction to spectacle. It's like watching the shuttle launch because you don't want to miss it if there's a disaster.
- Megan: ...I guess?
- Black Hat: Or dressing as an intern to sneak into operating rooms, in case a patient dies and you can watch them harvest organs.
- Megan: Wait, you do that?
- Black Hat: Or stealing detour signs to direct highway drivers down backwoods roads strewn with caltrops. After the tires burst, you start shooting out their windows.
- Black Hat: Then, when they flee the car in terror, you hunt them on horseback, like men once did.
- Megan: I realized a while back that we're having entirely different conversations.