Halloween exposure

Today’s Bizarro, with a low form of trick-or-treating:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

But what’s going on here? Quite a lot.

To understand this strip, you need at least to

(a) recognize the symbols (the carved pumpkins, in particular) indicating that the scene takes place on Halloween;

(b) recognize that the scene is one of trick-or-treating, a social transaction between the householder (the woman with the bowl of candy) and a child (the boy with the pumpkin bag);

(c) recall the details of such transactions, among them that children in costumes travel from house to house asking for treats such as candy (or, in some cultures, money) with the phrase “Trick or treat”, and the householder is expected to supply such treats and to guess at the identity of the costume (or at least to ask, “Who are you supposed to be?”);

(d) recognize that the boy is holding up a cellphone for the householder to view (you have to know about cellphones and how they are used);

(e) understand that the boy is offering this image in place of a costume;

(f) know who (ex-Congressman) Anthony Weiner is;

(g) know the salient details of Weiner’s sad story, in which he sent photos of his dick by cellphone to unwilling female recipients;

(h) and understand that the boy is reproducing this offense with the female householder.

(Weiner tales on this blog: 8/3/13 “The Weinerfest rolls on”, 8/4/13™ “On the Weiner watch”.)

The offense — in fact, a form of assault, in the legal sense (“In criminal and civil law, assault is an attempt to initiate harmful or offensive contact with a person, or a threat to do so. It is distinct from battery, which refers to the actual achievement of such contact.” (Wikipedia)) — is not in the dick display itself (men display their dicks negligently in some contexts, and to a welcoming, appreciative audience in others), but in the intent and reception of the act in particular contexts. Like this one.

This context has its own sad side, in a young boy’s aping Weiner’s cellphone assault, thinking that that’s clever, funny, or cute. Fortunately for us, all this is happening in Comicland, where all manner of grotesque and dreadful things happen — see Charles Addams and Edward Gorey and torture chambers as cartoon themes — and where kids flagrantly mimic the very worst of grown-up behavior. Where it’s crucial that this is not the real world.

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