We need to talk, more takes

Today’s Bizarro:


Yet another variant of the “We need to talk” theme, this time involving a parrot.

Earlier explorations on the theme on this blog:

1. A Bizarro cartoon, man to woman on the phone, saying “We need to text”:

“We need to talk”, “We have to talk”, “We’ve got to talk” — all ways of starting a two-person discourse about some potentially troubling topic. It’s become a kind of formula for couples-talk, often initiating a decoupling conversation (taking things easy, seeing other people, breaking up). (link)

2. A Leo Cullum cartoon, cavewoman to caveman:

“We need to talk” in this context can have two different imports: as a (socially fraught) statement of necessity implicating a request for couples-talk, or as a statement of necessity for the two of them to begin the evolution of language. The difference between the two can be traced back to the interpretation of the intransitive verb talk, as (respectively) an intransitive verb understood reciprocally (‘We need to talk to/with one another’) and as a plain intransitive; it’s the difference between “Kim and Sandy didn’t talk until they’d known each other for six months” and “As a baby, Kim didn’t talk for six years”. (link)

3. A Zits cartoon, mother to son:

Different social setting — parent-child relationships rather than couple relationships — but the expression is just as ominous for the party who’s told the two sides need to talk. (link)

Now it turns out that “We need to talk” is a cartoon meme, occurring again and again, in various versions. The prototypical instance has a woman speaking to a man, ominously, usually about their relationship; the Bizarro in #1 is unusual in that the man delivers the line, and the Zits in #3 has a variant with a mother (representing the parents as a couple) confronting a son (over what’s on his Facebook page). Here’s the Dust Piggies of 10/28/11 with a relatively straightforward version of the prototype, though it’s not the couple’s relationship that’s at issue:


In one common variant, the woman imperiously turns the conversation into a monologue, as in this New Yorker cartoon by Robert Weber:


Then there are modern variants in which the conversation isn’t face-to-face, but electronic, as in the Bizarro in #1 and in this New Yorker cartoon by Aaron Bacall:

\  (#4)

Finally, “We need to talk” can be combined with another cartoon theme, like the caveperson setting in the Leo Cullum cartoon in #2, and in this 2010 Cheerful Monk cartoon, “We Need To Talk. Really?”:


Browman writes on her blog:

The above cartoon was inspired by a cartoon in Science Magazine a few years ago. I was tickled that the magazine actually included a cartoon [Science regularly has a cartoon] and that the above idea was used in an article on the origins of speech. I don’t remember what the article said, but presumably it did mention gender differences in communication styles.

I haven’t been able to find the cartoon, though I’m guessing that Browman was remembering the special issue of Science on “The Evolution of Language” (2/27/04).


One Response to “We need to talk, more takes”

  1. Can we talk? | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] [Addendum: three previous variants (notably, "we need to talk") on this blog: a Leo Cullum cartoon (here), a Zits (here), and a Bizarro (here).] […]

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