The composition and content of today's panel is extremely interesting. Most interesting is that the central figure is not our protagonists, Joy and Burl, but instead is the ticket window patron, who is devoid of facial features, a clearly deliberate quotation of Magritte's The Son of Man, symbol of the lonely anonymity which occurs because humans refuse connection with one another, preferring to be solitary, even when in plain sight: "Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see, but it is impossible. Humans hide their secrets too well." In a panel with significant baby imagery, this man must symbolize the Son of all Mankind, in essence the post-modern Everyman.
The rest of the figures in the panel are only important insofar as we can learn from their interaction with the post-modern Everyman.
Burl and Joy, in virtual unison of gaze and posture, glare in consternation at this enigmatic symbol. Their mode of interaction with the world involves constant hostility and an assumption that every inconvenience is a deliberate and personal affront. In a world lacking meaningful social interaction, they have gone to a strangely opposite extreme and assigned every shred of interaction a narcissistically excessive amount of meaning. Burl, the infant-in-adult's-clothing, is the mouthpiece for this world view, lacking the impulse control necessary to keep his thoughts to himself.
The mother of the baby and presumed wife of the post-modern Everyman has jerked her head a clear 180 degrees in anger at Burl's comment. This head-swiveling ability, which appears to be common in The Dinette Set's universe, is an animalistically maternal response to a perceived threat to her infant, though ultimately impotent. More importantly, however, she is taking this action in favor of responding to the very real cries of her infant, whose desperate needs go unfulfilled while its parents attempt to sedate themselves with the latest entertainment offering from the mass media.
In the background we have a solitary figure standing out against the other shadowy background figures. He is slyly and voyeuristically enjoying the conflict, but refusing to be drawn into it.
When everything is placed together, this panel clearly bespeaks the profound and growing dehumanization of the post-modern existence.
Hidden behind the four walls of our houses and fenced off from our neighbors, our lives are devoid of contact with the community of Man. We've traded non-interactive entertainment, such as movies and television, for direct human contact. What contact the post-modern Everyman does engage in is done anonymously, voyeuristically, and within a space with dubious impulse-control rules, such as the Internet.
The end result, the panel surmises, is a rending of the social fabric which will eventually become so acute that, among other things, human parents will lack the necessary instinct to even care for their young.
- If you look closely, I believe the infant in line is actually the infant star of Look Who's Talking Again, despite the fact that the artist has cleverly tried to mask the difference with a hilarious false moustache.
- Sam's Club has a family crest?