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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Narcissism Is Hard!

You know, you read about (or possibly even know) people who think everything is about ME ME ME. Case in point: Elizabeth "Who?" Wurtzel, author of Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women, which I picked up on the impression that it was about the difficulty that women have being assertive without seeming bitchy, or something like that. Instead it was about the beauty, the wonder, the glory that is Elizabeth Wurtzel, and the small-minded pettiness of those who cannot recognize it. (Fortunately, I put the book down before walking out of the book store, and thus was only a little worse for the experience.)

Aside from astonishment, disgust, ennui, and irritation, the saner reader feels a twinge of jealousy. How easy one's life must be, we think, if we could just swan around imagining that everyone else on Earth is placed here for our comfort and convenience (even though there are those who do just a terrible job of it).

But I read something yesterday that made me think that Olympic-caliber narcissism wasn't just a walk in the park. That would be the day's ration of La Cucaracha, a simplistic, badly-drawn, self-absorbed, political comic "drawn" by Lalo Alcaraz.

Since the ink marks add virtually nothing to the action, I'll give you the words, to save you the trouble of clicking on the link. The main characters are driving around, listening to a report on the radio:

1st panel: CBS News plans to go ahead and replace Dan Rather's top anchor spot with a team of news anchors spread out all over the U.S.

2nd panel: CBS officials say:

3rd panel: Locating network news anchors all over the country should keep Latino news anchors guessing and off the air, in the proud CBS tradition.

Just imagine the hard mental labor that went into that comic! Alcaraz hears the news that the "Voice of God" single anchor paradigm is crumbling, and the very first thing that pops into his head is apparently, "How can I fit this into my comics' sole theme, 'WE ARE LATINOS AND WE ARE OPPRESSED!'?"

It can't have been easy. A lesser man might have greeted this with a simple, "Huh," and turned to the sports pages. A man less devoted to incessant whining might've thought, "Surely a variety of news anchors will mean a variety of colors, genders, and species -- although, thank heavens, not political viewpoints. This can only be a boon to Latinos!" But not Mr. Alcaraz! He's not afraid of hard work! He's willing to go the extra mile in finding something to offend him in the most innocuous news item. I salute you, sir!

I look forward to reading your strips on how the selection of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General will set the cause of Latinos back 100 years.

(For all I know, Alcaraz has already done this. I don't usually read his comic. Long ago, he did a strip about an Anglo fellow who was, of course, a complete redneck. He was upset about some TV show, so much so that he wrote the network to complain. But he still watched the show, and his wife asked him why, since he hated it so much. The general theme of the strip was, "Well if you don't like it, turn it off." [Oh, and WE ARE LATINOS AND WE ARE OPPRESSED!]

I don't remember what the man answered, but I know what my response would be: La Cucaracha is taking up space that would be better used for other purposes. The chunk of comics real estate it currently occupies could be used to house Over the Hedge, or 9 Chickweed Lane (recently evicted from the Houston Chronicle in favor of Brewster Rockit), or some restful white space. Wouldn't that be nice -- a rectangle of perfectly blank, virgin newsprint, rather than La Cucaracha? Yes.)