145: Parody Week: Dinosaur Comics
|Parody Week: Dinosaur Comics
Title text: Guys: while I was writing this, I accidentally swallowed a table-size slab of drywall. I know! Wacky.
This comic is a part of the Parody Week, just joking about other webcomics. This series was released on five consecutive days (Monday-Friday), not over the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule, and it comprises the following five parodies:
- 141: Parody Week: Achewood
- 142: Parody Week: Megatokyo
- 143: Parody Week: TFD and Natalie Dee
- 144: Parody Week: A Softer World
- 145: Parody Week: Dinosaur Comics
Dinosaur Comics is a webcomic by Ryan North. The artwork never changes, save a few rare exceptions, and only the dialogue is different. Randall traced the comic's usual artwork, though the drawing of the house about to be squashed in panel 3 is a more rudimentary rendition, and the person about to be squashed in panel 4 has been changed into Cueball rather than a woman in bright yellow and pink clothes.
For those who haven't read it, this is a typical strip, and here's a strip dealing with the same subject as this comic (but posted five years after it). See also this particular example, where the title text actually refer to Randall and xkcd.
Randall makes several shots at recurring themes in Dinosaur Comics. T-Rex, the green Tyrannosaurus, is bold and enthusiastic, discussing various topics, a favorite of which appears to be linguistics (North got his degree in computational linguistics). This time, he is talking about "they" being used as a third person singular gender-free pronoun and how it should be more widely used, even though its acceptance varies. Dromiceiomimus, the white dinosaur in the third panel, usually responds calmly to T-Rex's discussions. T-Rex then elaborates on how singular "they" has been used for centuries (specifically since the fourteenth century), with the change in convention being relatively recent (having fallen out of "fashion" in the nineteenth century). Technically, the English language lacks personal pronouns that are gender-neutral in the singular third-person — that is, there are only gender-specific personal pronouns such as "he" and "she" — so when a gender-neutral pronoun is needed, plural pronouns such as "they" (which are gender-neutral) are often used instead. There is some debate about whether this is a grammatical error, which may result in the use of grammatically correct, but cumbersome, gender-neutral phrases such as "he or she", "him or her", "his or hers" and so on. To compensate for these shortcomings, other gender-neutral personal pronouns for the singular third-person have also been introduced, such as "he/she", "s/he" and "xe" instead of "he or she", or "hirs" instead of "his or hers." T-Rex considers these constructs to be "ridiculous" and points out that they can be avoided by simply using the singular "they" instead.
While "he/she" and "s/he" are commonly used as a gender-neutral pronoun when gender is unknown, "xe" and "hirs" are often used for genderqueer individuals. Genderqueer persons do not subscribe to a "binary" definition of gender, where the only genders are male and female, and may identify as having, just to name a few examples, a gender between male and female, a combination of both male and female genders, no gender (terms for this include "genderless", "agender," and "neutrois"), a separate gender from male and female, an unnameable gender, or a "fluid" gender identity that shifts between multiple genders ("genderfluidity").
Utahraptor, the orange dinosaur, typically contradicts T-Rex, but Randall subverts this pattern and has him agree. The comic suggests that the perpetual disagreement stems from a 'rift' in the author's mind, which would be healed if only he lived in a world where there were a land bridge between Asia and North America.
In the last panel, the narrator starts with "In a world…", a phrase made famous by Don LaFontaine in movie trailers. "In a world…" is also likely a reference to the recurring gag of Dinosaur Comics suddenly jumping to alternate worlds or time periods that have whatever conditions T-Rex and his friends have been discussing, to humorous effect.
The last sentence suggests that in this other world, everyone is bi-curious. This is a phenomenon in which people of a heterosexual or homosexual identity who, while showing some curiosity for a relationship or sexual activity with a person of the sex they do not favor, distinguish themselves from the bisexual label. Bi-curious has been used as the word of the day two days in a row on May 11th and May 12th 2004, so it's no wonder Randall put the word in this comic. The suggestion that "everyone is bi-curious" could be a reference to Arthur C. Clarke's book Imperial Earth, where bisexuality is the norm. Deliberately trite and awkward explorations of this subject matter are also a recurring theme in Dinosaur Comics.
Like xkcd, Dinosaur Comics has title texts. Ryan's title texts are often bizarre non-sequiturs; the title text for the 2593rd comic, eleven years after the appearance of the first comic, read "the sixth panel and the second panel are just zoomed versions of each other. IT'S TRUE. I'M SORRY. I COULDN'T BEAR CARRYING THIS TERRIBLE SECRET ANY LONGER." The title text in this parody fits this pattern.
T-Rex from Dinosaur Comics later appeared in 1350: Lorenz (see this example story line and also the Dinosaur section under Lorenz themes), where the actual images from the first three panels of Ryan's comic are used, rather than like here where Randall copied them himself and in 1452: Jurassic World, where it was the last image from the actual comic that was used.
- [T-Rex, a large green Tyrannosaurus, holds out his small arms to each side and the tail pointing up while speaking with a wide open pink mouth showing all his teeth. All the text is written like on a typewriter with both caps and lowercase letters, which is not normal in xkcd.]
- T-Rex: THINGS I AM UPPITY ABOUT: "They" as a third-person singular gender-free pronoun.
- [Zoom in on T-Rex head holding his hands up under his mouth, and mouth even wider open so also the red tongue can be seen.]
- T-Rex: I'm all for it!
- [Zoom out to show T-Rex to the left, mouth almost closed, arms in normal position, the tail pointing up, and lifting his left leg ready to smash his foot down through the roof of a brown log cabin with chimney and porch with a blue car holding in front of the house to the right. Further right is a smaller white/yellow dinosaur, Dromiceiomimus, standing away from T-Rex, but turning its long neck toward him.]
- Dromiceiomimus: But isn't that terrible grammar?
- T-Rex: Only by recent convention! It's been in use that way for centuries, and its use is widely accepted! ALSO: This lets us avoid ridiculous constructs like "he/she", "s/he", "xe" or "hirs"!
- [T-Rex is moving left, so part of his head and his lifted right foot are outside the panels frame, pink mouth again partly open so tongue can be seen, but no teeth are drawn. Arms are still in normal position and the tail is pointing up. Beneath the part of his right foot visible, there is Cueball about to be squashed. Behind him an orange dinosaur, Utahraptor, has appeared. It looks like a smaller version of T-Rex, but with longer arms and very large claws on its rear legs. It has its pink mouth wide open to show its red tongue and teeth, also holding arm in front of it and the tail pointing up. It is moving forward standing only on one leg, the other lifted high up.]
- Utahraptor: T-Rex, I . . . agree.
- T-Rex: What?
- Utahraptor: That sounds good to me!
- [T-Rex stand with both legs down, but wide spread out. The tails is almost down to the ground, only the tip pointing up. The arms are still in front of it towards the left, but it has turned its head, mouth almost closed, toward right looking at Utahraptor, which now stands on both legs, but like it is leaning forward on its toes, stretching up with arms held high, mouth less open, but tongue and teeth visible.]
- Utahraptor: Normally I'd jump in with an objection, but I think your point makes sense.
- T-Rex: Could it be that the rift in our author's mind has finally healed? Is he no longer locked in perpetual war with the self-doubt that lurks in his subc-
- [The final part of the final words from T-Rex is interrupted in the previous panel and first finishes here after a narrator "speaks" before T-Rex with bold capital letters to the top right, and after to the bottom left. T-Rex is seen in full figure standing with wide open mouth, teeth and tongue visible, arms and tail up.]
- Narrator: IN A WORLD WHERE THERE IS STILL A LAND BRIDGE BETWEEN ASIA AND NORTH AMERICA FOR SOME REASON:
- T-Rex: -onscious?
- Narrator: ALSO HOW ABOUT IN THIS WORLD EVERYONE IS BICURIOUS
- This was the Dinosaur Comics strip released the day before this comic
- Dinosaur Comics released MTWT, so there was no release on the Friday of this comics release.
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