Muffled

Today’s Zippy, providing an extreme example of what it can take to make sense of a cartoon or comic strip:

Muffled? Why muffled? No helpful title, but two clues: the reference to the P.C. police and the strangely stiff figure of Zippy in the strip.

P.C. police is short for politically correct police ‘those who enforce political correctness’.  On P.C. / PC, from Wikipedia:

Political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct), commonly abbreviated to PC, is a term that, in modern usage, is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society. In the media, the term is generally used as a pejorative, implying that these policies are excessive.

Now you need to know that the P.C. police are customarily said to enforce political correctness by muzzling (that is the conventional verb) the free speech of others. That should lead us to recognize that muffled in the last panel is a pun on muzzled. But where does muffled come from?

To answer that, you have to be really into the preoccupations of the Zippy strip — or know an awful lot about the popular culture of the American roadside. The stiff figure taken on by Zippy is in fact Muffler Man. From a posting of 4/23/15:

Muffler Men, roadside fiberglass figures originally serving as commercial icons, usually holding a sample of whatever is advertised — a muffler in the case of the canonical Muffler Man. Muffler Men take many forms: images of Paul Bunyan, for instance, and the very popular cowboy figure

Or, in this case, a Pinhead in a polka-dotted muumuu.

 

 

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