The comic is a satirical graphical representation of the inspirational Christian poem "Footprints," which has been recounted in many versions and is of disputed authorship.
The basic idea of the poem is that the narrator looks back at scenes of his life and sees two sets of footprints, his and those of Jesus. During the most difficult times of his life, the narrator sees only one set of footprints and assumes that Jesus had left him during those times. In the climax of the poem, Jesus responds to the narrator that he saw only one set of footprints during the most difficult times of his life because Jesus was carrying him during those times.
The poem is seen by many as overly sentimental and is thus ripe for parody of this kind. The graph mockingly illustrates various times when Jesus or the narrator left the scene, or otherwise gives various reasons why the number of sets of footprints may have been other than two.
"Ducklings imprinted on Jesus and followed Him around" is a reference to Konrad Lorenz's experiments. Three ducklings followed Jesus and the narrator.
"Jesus disappeared for an evening each time a new Twilight movie came out" could mean that Jesus went to see the movie and left the narrator alone. It could also mean that his support of people through their most difficult trials meant he had to carry a lot of emotionally scarred people.
"Got lost and followed our own footprints" may be a reference to "Winnie-the-Pooh" (1926), in which the titular bear and his friend try and hunt a "Woozle" by its footprints, actually following their own round and round a spinney, which also seems slightly childish for Jesus as traditionally portrayed. An alternate explanation is that they came to a dead end, and had to double back.
"Rode around with Jesus in captured AT-ST" is a reference to a two-legged combat "walker" from Star Wars. The implication is that Jesus would have participated in forcibly taking a war machine, which appears somewhat out of character.
The reference at the end to Jesus drowning in a patch of quicksand, and then the narrator simply going home, again subverts the poem's earnestness. "Going home" may be a reference to dying, implying that the narrator died without Christ, or that the narrator and Christ were not traveling anymore. It is also possible that this is meant literally, and the narrator actually went home.
The title text continues the parody by imagining that Jesus delivers the poem's climactic lines in stereotypical "bro" speak, a dialect perceived by many to be obnoxious. The reference to punching Jesus is possibly another reference to the poem's perceived excessive sentimentality. Another interpretation is that the narrator, like many people, dislikes usage of this lingo and punched Jesus as a result of this hatred. This might also be a pun on "totes"; with tote bags being used to carry things, but not people. The narrator punching Jesus might be because of his hatred for the pun.
Yet another interpretation is that Jesus' obnoxious way of explaining himself indicated dishonesty, meaning he did not in fact carry the narrator during the most difficult parts of his life. The narrator sensed this and punched Jesus in retaliation.
"There's one set of foot-p's cause I was totes carrying you, bro!" can be translated into normal English as "There's one set of footprints because I was definitely carrying you, friend!".
An alternate explanation of some of the oddities of the strip is that "Jesus" is not Jesus Christ, but some guy merely named Jesus, as is common in some Latin American countries.
Using the Twilight movies as reference points, it can be determined that the span of the graph is from approximately early 2004 to late 2018, with Jesus' death in the second half of 2017.
The poem has appeared in xkcd before, at 1110 with coordinates 0.7601, -58.803.
- [A graph is shown with a single red line that runs through from left to right, showing different values at different times. Until the very end, the line always returns to the value 2, signifying two sets of footprints in the sand. The X-axis has a label followed by an arrow pointing right. The Y-axis has a label at the top, right of the axis, and numbers, one for each of the ticks from which five thin lines going horizontally across the entire graph. Every time the graph moves away from the value 2 there is an arrow pointing to the event and a label. The first two events has the same label. The only label below the line has five small arrows pointing to five small dips in the curve. All other labels only has one arrow pointing to one event.]
- X-axis: Time
- Y-axis: Sets of footprints
- [The line starts at the value 2, then dips twice to the value 1. The two troughs are labeled:]
- Jesus carried me
- [The line dips once again to the value 1. The trough is labeled:]
- I carried Jesus
- [The line rises to 3 briefly, and is labeled:]
- Who was that guy?
- [The line rises to 5 sharply, and then falls in a sharp staircase pattern, labeled:]
- Ducklings imprinted on Jesus and followed him around
- [The line rises to 4, labeled:]
- Got lost and followed our own footprints
- [The line dips for very short periods five times to the value 1. The first dip is between "I carried Jesus" and "Who was that guy?", the second between "Who was that guy?" and "Duckings imprinted on Jesus..." and the final three are all between the "Ducklings imprinted on Jesus..." and "Got lost and followed our own footprints". These five troughs share one label with five arrows from the same text:]
- Jesus disappeared for an evening each time a new Twilight movie came out
- [The line dips to 1, labeled:]
- Rode around with Jesus in captured AT-ST
- [The line dips and stays level at 1, labeled:]
- Hit quicksand patch. Jesus didn't make it :(
- [The line dips to zero at the end, and is labeled:]
- Went home
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I know a lot about the poem this is referencing as it was my deceased grandmothers favourite. However I am omitting myself from making any changes other than putting in the poem it is referencing and the most brief of explanations to begin so someone with less emotional bias can fix formatting and improve wording. The poem can be found here: http://www.onlythebible.com/Poems/Footprints-in-the-Sand-Poem.html Squirrel killer- (talk) 06:01, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
Should we address that AT-ST' nickname is "chicken Walker"? 184.108.40.206 08:46, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
Should we address that riding around in a captured AT-ST is what Chewbacca did in Return of the Jedi? 220.127.116.11 22:30, 4 December 2015 (UTC)
The title text is not in textese (which you be "theres 1 set of fps bcs I carried U".) I'm not sure what it is exactly (not being American) the closest I can get is "Valley girl" (which is not right) and "that one dialect the frat-boys speak in the movies", which can't be it's name. 18.104.22.168 09:43, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
"Going home == death" Are we certain that this is meant? I feel it could also poke fun at the whole "walk of life" concept, and going home simply means going home... --22.214.171.124 09:55, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
I've removed the definite implication that "Going home == death", and instead made it a possible interpretation. I agree that the title text is "frat-boy speak", but I'm not sure what you would call it -- 126.96.36.199 10:08, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
First contribution, apologies if I mess up... Going home could be a reference to Forrest Gump where he ends his multi-year walk by saying "I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now" 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I think the quicksand is a reference to Lawrence of Arabia, in the movie(spoiler alert?) Lawrence walks across the Sinai Desert only to see one of his men caught in quicksand and die immediately before reaching their destination.
Joar (talk) 10:15, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
- I immediately thought of Artax, Atreyu's horse in Neverending story drowning in quicksand. Artax carried Atreyu, like Jesus in the poem, and his death is an Iconic Moment of Sadness, which I think makes the reference work well with the parody of over-sentimentality in the footprints poem.184.108.40.206 18:50, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
I'd call the title text dialect "bro talk" or something similar. Also, the quicksand bit is definitely in reference to Jesus' ability to walk on water: since quicksand is a mixture of water and sand, presumably it would be easier to walk on than regular water. 220.127.116.11 13:52, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
The presumed reference to "Winnie the Pooh" is very far fetched. The joke of following its own footprint is used in many other works. Same for drawing in a quicksand. 18.104.22.168 14:03, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
- Ha! Edit conflict, for exactly the same subject. What I was about to say was: The 'following our own footprints' bit reminded me, initially, of Tintin (In The Land Of The Black Gold?), with Thomson and Thompson's jeep, although that was two, four, six, etc tyre-tracks. I think the Pooh example is the more likely archetype.
- (i.e., in light of what I'm now replying to, more likely than the Tintin version. Whether or not Pooh was the inspiration.) 22.214.171.124 14:11, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
- I've noticed that problem quite a bit around here - generic comments being explained as specific references. But I'm too lazy to change them myself. Anyone up for it? Zweisteine (talk) 14:35, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
Can someone translate "There's one set of foot-p's cause I was totes carrying you, bro!" into normal english? Forrest (talk)15:45, 09 September 2015 (UTC)
- "There is one set of footprints because I was totally carrying you, my brother"
- "There is one set of footprints because I was fully-committed to carrying you, my good friend whom I consider like a brother" JamesCurran (talk) 16:17, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
So, given the width of the "1-night" disappearances of Jesus on the chart, I think we can infer that the length of time between the quicksand incident and "going home" was a pretty long time. My sources tell me that Jesus has an affinity for resurrecting 3-days after death, and that his angels get him out of whatever place he's stuck (rolling away the tomb-stone, etc). Because of this, we might assume that the narrator had cleared enough distance away from the quicksand that he didn't notice Jesus resurrecting and being pulled out by angels... but in that case the vertical axis was being recorded "as the narrator walked", as opposed to someone else coming back and recording them after the events had taken place. (This is my first contribution to explainxkcd, so I'm keeping it in the comments unless someone else publishes it.)126.96.36.199 16:08, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
I think it's a cool deduction if a bit far fetched, but I can't complain considering we might all be over-thinking things here. 188.8.131.52 17:00, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
"Who was that guy?" "That was no guy; that was ... the Lone Ranger!" RAGBRAIvet (talk) 19:24, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
Note that one of the twelve Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed was not of the Prophet, but of a schoolboy of the same name. Jesus is a common Mexican name. Randall may be showing how context and prejudice may stir up strong religious reaction, by giving situations where one can deduce that the Biblical Jesus is not the one leaving footprints everywhere.
[Comet] 21:18, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
"Jesus disappeared for an evening each time a new Twilight movie came out" probably means either that Jesus went to see the movie and left the narrator alone or that the narrator went to see the movie and Jesus refused to come with.
The imprinting reference could also come from the twilight movies. 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
The second interpretation (the narrator went to see the movie and Jesus refused to come with) is absurdly far fetched for a sentence that says "Jesus disappeared for an evening". --220.127.116.11 21:38, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
- I agree Teleksterling (talk) 23:32, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
- Except that this whole timeline is from the person's perspective (Jesus carried *ME*, *I* carried Jesus). Given that point of view, and that Jesus was going everywhere with him, the second option "Jesus refused to go to Twilight" is plausible. DC 06:15, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
I thought it meant either Jesus not being there (and preventing evil from happening) allowed for a Twilight movie to come out or else Jesus was the originator of the Twilight movies and he disappeared every time to make one. 18.104.22.168 06:41, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
- Why would he disappear to make the movie at the date the movie's being published? Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 06:56, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
- Oh, I know:
A wizard Jesus did it! http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AWizardDidIt Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 10:56, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
Using the Twilight release dates as a guide, we can actually figure out the timescale here. The full length of the graph seems to be from about the start of 2004 'til the end of 2018, with the narrator going home mid 2018 and Jesus dying in the back half of 2017. They adopted ducks in 2010, were lost for the second half of 2013, rode an AT-ST for most of summer 2014, and oh dear I've given this way too much thought... 22.214.171.124 08:56, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
I've added in the alternate explanation that this is not Jesus Christ, but some dude named "Jesus". 126.96.36.199 17:23, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
The "sufer dude" language could imply (since the poem specifically notes that they're walking on a beach) that Jesus went surfing. Of course, if it were supposed to be surfer dude language, it should include the word "dude." Though the last time I was exposed to incessant surfer talk was the 90's. Sengkelat (talk) 18:11, 10 September 2015 (UTC)
"Surfer" language, when used uncharacteristically by someone, often implies sarcasm or poorly-hidden dishonesty. The narrator could have simply punched Jesus because of the bare-faced lie. I have gone and added this interpretation. Focoma (talk) 12:20, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
It seems like "my friend" would be a better translation for "bro" then "brother" 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I think him not being there on the nights of Twilight movies might be alluding to the whole vampires only coming out at night cliché (though I'm probably overthinking it). 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Doesn't anyone else think that the "Who was that guy?" bit may be a reference to the Third Man Effect, as alluded to in The Waste Land, by T. S. Elliot? 220.127.116.11 08:22, 26 November 2015 (UTC)