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06/12/2007

Lash out now, ask questions never

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 22-5Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, who bills herself as "Your Coach for the Culture Wars," has written the following letter about a comic strip that rubbed her the wrong way:

To the Editor of the San Diego Union Tribune,

The comic strip “Opus” by Berkeley Breathed should be discontinued immediately.
This Sunday’s strip depicted three characters talking about a child of their acquaintance with two mothers. They speculate “Makes you wonder how he’ll do without a male role model in the house.” The visual answer to that an angry, inebriated, misogynist father throwing a TV out the window and swearing at the baseball player.
The comic should be pulled immediately, for these reasons.
1. It wasn’t funny.
2. It was mean.
3. It was anti-male, anti-father hate speech. If you doubt that, imagine if the images had been reversed: an innocent white male married father confronts an unattractive out of control gay person. The Human Rights Campaign would go ballistic. In my opinion, this comic is reason enough for happily married women to go ballistic at the intentional assault on their husbands.
4. It was in extremely poor taste to run an anti-father cartoon the week before Fathers Day.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D

Okay, so let's have a look at the cartoon in question (click for full-size):

 Feature 07 06 10 Wpopu070610
"OPUS" by Berkeley Breathed (6/10/2007)

Okay, so she's right that the man is painted as an unsavory character. But here's what she overlooked in favor of a knee-jerk reaction: The character is ALWAYS A JERK! This is the character of Steve Dallas, who has appeared in various incarnations in all of Berke Breathed's comics (even written as a gay man at one point, until he was "cured" of his homosexuality by shock therapy). In "Opus," he is written as a middle-aged reluctant father. And while his jerky ways have shifted and changed over the years, he is still meant to be a less-than-charming, shallow character who sometimes resorts to slapstick violence. IT'S HIS CHARACTER.

Basically, Ms. Morse's reaction would be like someone saying the creators of "The Office" are portraying all bosses in a negative light because Steve Carell's character acts in an inept fashion. But viewers of that program understand the character of Michael Scott and expect him to act in a way that's true to himself. On that same token, readers of "Opus" understand the character of Steve Dallas, and so it presents a perfect way to juxtapose two young boys' gay parenting question with their own environment and reality (it should be noted that the black-haired boy is Auggie, Steve's son). It's not saying that ALL male role models are flawed and bad; it's saying that this particular one is less-than-perfect!

It's unreal that Ms. Morse would just up and freak out about this without first doing at least some homework about the strip or the characters. Here's just hoping she didn't catch a cursory glimpse of "The Sopranos" finale, or she might start accusing HBO of trying to make all fathers look like cold-blooded killers!!

To read an opus Ms. Morse penned on "Opus" for TownHall, click below:

Not His Magnum Opus [TownHall]

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Your thoughts

Why are we even listening to this person. Sure she has a PhD, but it is in ECONOMICS, not Social Anthropology, not psychology, just ECONOMICS.
She is using her Dr. title in an improper fashion as she is not an "Expert" in this field. If she wanted to explain the current US trade deficit, I might want to listen. All this is an attempt at bashing someone she doesnt like while making publicity about the whole Catholic Family ideal and how she believes the world should live. Freedom of speech is necessary in this day and age but with people like this roaming the world, it might fade away.

Posted by: | Jun 17, 2007 1:36:08 PM

Link to the comic has expired; here's the correct URL:

http://comics.com/wash/opus/archive/opus-20070610.html

Cheers. =)

Posted by: KipEsquire | Jun 19, 2007 2:51:53 PM

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