When did I miss the evolution of the newspaper comics, always regarded as the young tyke’s entry into the newspaper perusal habit, into one more entertainment medium requiring ratings and advance parental review? The comic above appeared in today’s Washington Post and elsewhere. I think it’s funny—for a Playboy cartoon. Maybe it’s not too racy for the New Yorker. But the funny pages? Seriously? This is an erection joke! In a strip with Mother Goose in the title! (The strip is “Mother Goose and Grimm” by Mike Peters, who is also an award-winning political cartoonist.) It refers to the classic naughty line that had censors screaming when Mae West said it (after writing it.) My Dad read the daily comics to me before I could read, then explained the jokes that I couldn’t understand. Is this the kind of joke toddlers will be having explained to them now?
I suppose this is one more step in the progressive vulgarization of American culture. No place is safe, apparently. Is innocence so terrible that we have to work overtime to obliterate any shred of it for any child who can form a complete sentence? Okay, at the risk of being forever tarred as being an old fuddy-duddy, I’ll say it: the comic is inappropriate for the funnies, even today, when Cialis ads start popping up on TV as early as 8 PM. Editors who failed to ding it for vulgarity were irresponsible, and Mike Peters was guilty of rudeness and a breach of trust.
I’m guessing that newspaper editors catch hell from readers for this. I’m also terrified that they won’t.