1006: Sloppier Than Fiction

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Sloppier Than Fiction
Roger Ebert once called you directionless and unwatchable.
Title text: Roger Ebert once called you directionless and unwatchable.


This comic is basically Cueball stuck in a conversation with Goatee Guy, presumably at a bar or party as Goatee Guy is carrying a drink. From Cueball's reaction it's clear he thinks Goatee Guy is a terrible person, a judgment that Goatee's story seems to verify. In it, he complains about being dumped by his ex-girlfriend for an act that he describes as "not technically cheating." Whatever he did, his description makes it clear that it was close enough to cheating to make any technical distinctions meaningless, and that he is selfishly looking for loopholes to justify his bad behavior. He also describes his ex as "crazy," even though her reaction to his bad behavior seems perfectly reasonable.

The point of his story is that his friend Bret says Goatee's ex resembles a "crazy ex" of his own, and it turns out they are talking about the same girl. This coincidence strikes Goatee as so unlikely that audiences would find it implausible in a fictional setting. This is a variation on the adage "truth is stranger than fiction", which means that sometimes real life can lead to some unexpected ups and downs that would not even make sense in a fictional representation in a book or a movie.

Cueball, however, counters that if Goatee's life was a movie, audiences would reject it for different reasons: "poorly-written dialogue and unlikeable main character." By this he is referring to Goatee's boorish behavior in his story, the equally boorish manner of speaking, and his incorrect belief that his story is all that noteworthy or implausible in the first place (it's a mild coincidence at best, and hardly "stranger than fiction").

In the title text, Roger Ebert was a famous American movie critic, who could be quite caustic when reviewing a movie he disliked. "Directionless" and "unwatchable," along with Cueball's initial complaints of "poorly-written dialogue and unlikeable main character," are common criticisms of bad movies, but have entirely different and much more personally cutting connotations when applied to a human being.


[A douchebag with a goatee and a bad haircut talks to Cueball while holding a drink.]
Goatee Guy: Even though it technically wasn't cheating, she dumped me anyway! So I tell Bret, and he's like "She sounds just like my crazy ex." And I was like, "dude, what was her name?" and it was the same girl.
Goatee Guy: I swear, if they made my life into a movie, no one would believe it.
Cueball: Yeah, though mostly because of the poorly-written dialogue and unlikeable main character.

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To me this is the lesson that sometimes we miss the most obvious thing: If you felt like you needed to do something that WASN'T technically cheating, perhaps what you shared WASN'T technically love. So if it was not love our beerded (at least I think it's a beer in his cup) friend lost, what was it? - e-inspired 15:21, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

The positive strings attached to that quasi-love? --Quicksilver (talk) 06:47, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

" Oh and FYI, if anyone ever says "It wasn't technically cheating"... it was cheating. " -> This is only true for the more orthodox kinds of relationships. 02:07, 29 January 2014 (UTC) Agreed. 19:40, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

The point they're trying to make - and the joke in the comic - is that if you ever have to justify something as "technically not cheating", you've overstepped a boundary, regardless of how orthodox your relationship is. More to the point, if your partner is upset by something you did, telling them it was technically ok isn't going to get you anywhere. The joke is that goatee guy did something that hurt his girlfriend's feelings, then summarily dismissed her opinion when she tried to talk about it. 21:19, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

The "not technically cheating" bit in my eyes simply makes it very clear that Goatee Guy is indeed an "unlikeable character". Ugh. Right with you on this one, Cueball! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Honestly, is nobody going to give Goatee Guy the benefit of the doubt? We know next to nothing about what actually happened. (talk) 19:44, October 24, 2017‎ (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

As a man with a goatee, I object to Randall's depictions of our demographic in this and other comics. 21:30, 28 May 2020 (UTC)

As a person who has dated men with goatees, I'm fine with it. 00:48, 6 December 2020 (UTC)