Suck or Eat?


bz panel 09-26-13bz strip 09-26-13bz 10-29-12 VAMPIRE Xbz 10-29-12 VAMPIREBizarro was brought to you today by Hair Care.

Here’s a story that demonstrates the kind of ambiguous rules that the newspaper comics business operate under.

Back in October of 2012, one year ago, the vampire cartoon below was rejected as being too suggestive to run in newspapers, purely because it contains the word, “suck,” which newspaper comics editors dislike because it can be interpreted to allude to fellatio. (As though a vampire would be referring to homosexual prostitution as opposed to good-old-fashioned murder of a mortal.) So, I changed the comic to the second version, “Why lie? Need blood.” It’s okay but not as funny as the original, in my opinion. But that brings us to today’s cartoon, a mere year later, which raised no eyebrows at all. Huh?

The woman is obviously a prostitute, which one would think would be off limits in newspaper comics all by itself, and her sign refers to food, which leads one to wonder why anyone would care that she was “gluten free” unless they intended to “eat” her?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that no one denied this cartoon because I think it’s really weird and funny. But the rules of the newspaper cartoon world are often inscrutable and always confusing. This week, for instance, I was told that I could not use the word “crap” in a future comic. Really?

Here’s the bigger point: Americans (and maybe all humans, I’m not sure) are more obsessed with words than with their meanings. I will never understand this as long as I live. Under FCC rules, in broadcast TV you can talk about any kind of depraved sex act you wish, as long as you do not use the word “fuck.” And the word itself is so mysteriously magical that it cannot be used in any way whether the topic is sex or not. “What the fuck?” is a crime that carries a stiff fine –– “I’m going to rape your 8-year-old daughter with a trained monkey,” is completely legal. In my opinion, today’s “gluten-free” cartoon is far more suggestive in an unsavory way than the vampire cartoon, but it doesn’t have a “naughty” word so it’s okay.

Are we a nation permanently locked in preschool? The answer, in the case of language, is yes.








BIZOMBIES: I usually put a much older cartoon in this section but today I’m putting yesterday’s cartoon because as the result of a comment left about it yesterday, I remembered a funny story. bz panel 09-25-13

One of our Jazz Pickles said she imagined the radiologist’s “selfie” might be an X-ray of his butt, the way office interns sometimes like to do with a photocopier. I was immediately reminded of a few years ago when my wife was injured in a traffic accident and had to have her pelvis X-rayed.  As we waited for the results I was strolling around the emergency room for a couple minutes and happened upon a desk where three or four doctors/interns were staring at a large computer screen. As I moved closer, I saw that it was her pelvic X-ray and that you could clearly see a ghosted image of her sexy bits. I know medical exams are routinely invasive of one’s privacy but for a few seconds, I felt a little weird about three strange men staring at my wife’s schmadoodleflobbin in full view of anyone who walked by. I laughed at the silliness of it, of course, but it was one of those odd moments when societal norms are suspended but the brain still has an automatic response to it.

Now that I write that, it doesn’t seem all that amusing. But I found it so at the time.



57 thoughts on “Suck or Eat?

  1. I had the same thought when I saw today’s cartoon, as it seems to me this the only rational interpretation of her saying she is gluten free. And then I wondered how it got past the cartoon PTB (Powers That Be).

    And then I wondered about vegans and ….

    Never mind.

    • It’s not. I was at a medical seminar recently where an expert nutritionist was saying that less than 2% of humans are allergic or intolerant of wheat in any way. The whole gluten-free movement is just another red herring to get sell food and books.

      • From India here. Been reading your comic for years now. Love your illustration style. Happen to have celiac, understood your rationale for the strip. Can sense the humor in it. But still found this tasteless. People don’t realize the sufferings/pain those with celiac go through.

      • Okay? Really, care to give that nutritionists name? I can start posting massive amounts of medical documentation on gut inflammation from gluten if you would like. Total tangent to the content of this cartoon panel, but if you are going to say that one nutritionist that you happened to hear is THE expert on the subject when the literature says otherwise then I will have to say that your appeal to authority is as weak as a baby’s arm.

        Please! You say in the comments not to think too hard….and I would ask you to take your own advice on that because it seems to be taxing you a little much on the subject of gluten.

        On a more closely tied note, their are some people talking about this in terms of gender instead of just sexuality, and I find THAT a bit overboard too. I personally snorted when I saw the panel and was glad that idiotic prudery had not won out again.



        • Dr. John McDougall. I’ve known him for years and come to respect his opinions on these things. He’s had a tremendous amount of success with the very sick and obese.

      • It’s definitely become a fad, a new way for attention seekers to feed their neuroses. And where people can make a buck, they’ll try to exploit it. But not everyone is doing it for that.

        A friend of mine who suffers from celiac told me about gluten’s inflammatory properties and challenged me to cut it out of my diet a few years ago. I did and found that my arthritis pain diminished significantly. So don’t assume that everyone pursuing this “fad” is a trendy idiot. Some of us have been quietly pursuing this nutritional choice for some time.

      • Perhaps cunnilingus is more taboo in our society than fellatio?

        But, as a critique of the first comic, it seems rather uncommon to me that johns would pay to go down on a prostitute; paying the prostitute to be the one going down seems far more common.

  2. I had to have my hips replaced. During the time period of rehabilitation I lost about 60 lbs. when I saw the first XRay of my hips, I was appalled at how obvious my “camel toe” was and asked a medical assistant “is that my camel toe? My gosh it’s huge!” She turned very red and said “we are not in Jr. High”!
    Well, I’m 52 so I hope not. The last time I went in (60lbs lighter) my “camel toe” was a mere shadow! I told the medical assistant (a different one) “oh I’m thrilled my camel toe has shrunk”! She started laughing and said “what ?” and then she pulled up the first X Ray. We got hysterical!
    So…will papers let you say camel toe?

  3. I think the dirty word thing is basically just a nod to a certain class of purists who honestly and truly think that you can prevent corruption of future citizens by protecting youth from unsavory ideas. These misguided souls would never allow their children to watch regular TV; they probably think Sesame Street has too-loose morals. In effect, the restrictions on dirty words is not to protect *their* children, but is a way for politicians to claim that they are doing something to reduce corruption of the rest of us. After all, it’s corrupt people like you and me who will rape their daughters with dead lemurs; having some kind of restrictions, no matter how mild, will surely result in some slight reduction in our depravity.

    That’s why otherwise-intelligent politicians do it – it lets them claim to purists that they are doing *something*. So why do purists allow themselves to be placated by so empty a gesture? Allow me to quote Wikipedia:

    Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people have a bias to seek consonance between their expectations and reality. According to [Leon] Festinger, people engage in a process he termed “dissonance reduction,” … This bias sheds light on otherwise puzzling, irrational, and even destructive behavior.

  4. The first thing anyone will think of is the obvious sex act. Maybe they’ll think about it for a while and get the “other” meaning of the cartoon but as you wrote above, “societal norms are suspended but the brain still has an automatic response to it”. So it will be viewed as a rather crude double-meaning joke with the unintended (?) meaning being first.

  5. What’s really funny about the Gluten Free cartoon is the underlying message that this person could imagine that anyone would even want to “eat” her. (OK, I know there are some weirdos, but it’s still a long shot.) Oops , I assumed it was spelled weirdoes with an E, as in dominoes, potatoes, etc. but spellchecker fixed it. Why? It’s not Italian or Spanish, for cry sakes! Sorry about my rant.

  6. I think you’ve misinterpreted what happened.

    The “suck” scene implies homosexuality. That’s what was found, consciously or not, to be unacceptable. The “gluten” scene, though clearly referencing prostitution and cunnilingus, refers to heterosexual sex, and this is OK by the morality holders of the country.

    Gay guys and gals deal with this all the time. If we kiss in public, even on the cheek, it’s pornographic. A straight couple can practically crawl down each other’s throats before anyone bats an eye.

  7. The FCC problem you mention is the result of creating a regulatory agency with the authority to decide what can be broadcast and what cannot. It’s a mistake to confuse what the FCC decides with social norms. Regulatory agencies that are not captive to one constituency or another tend to be merely reactive.

    • Good point. I know from personal experience, however, that there are still plenty of Americans who are offended by “dirty” words in print. Chicken or the egg, I suppose.

    • In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled in Cohen v. California that the use of “that word” — the chief justice wouldn’t let the lawyers use ‘fuck’ during their oral arguments because its use in public hadn’t been yet decided by the court — is allowed so long as it is used as part of political speech and not to advocate sexual congress. This was again the ruling in Hess v. Indiana (1973). The question then becomes one of an unwilling audience, which was the problem in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (1978). So, while broadcasters must be careful to prevent certain words being heard by an unwilling listener, publishers are not bound by this rule — primarily because the FCC doesn’t regulate the print media.

      However, I do agree that the FCC is a little nuts when it comes to disallowed words. I’ve never understood why, if the word ‘asshole’ is to be censored, the broadcasters have to bleep out ‘hole’ but not ‘ass’. I’ve yet to come across someone who violently objects to being called a total hole.

  8. Mwhahahahaha! … so tired of the whole GLUUUUTEN FREEEEEEE!!!!!!! fad… I often wonder (with no small measure of annoyance) what innocuous product they’ll slap that label on next. Thanks for taking it to the next level (like you do)!

    I laughed.



    Tanya Sitton

  9. Yes, I was one of those who were pleasantly shocked that today’s comic got through the distribution channels. Although my first thought about the actual gag was “gluten? that’s a dietary thing so shouldn’t the hooker be skinnier? no wait, then she’d have a sign saying ‘trans fat free’, right?” At which point I turned off my thinking for the remainder of the day.

  10. I was surprised you used “Gluten Free” here with a prostitute and not something more morbid like a cannibal or CHUD or Zombie looking for “Gluten Free” for next month. Of course you could still very well be planning this for all I know and this would be as Moot.

  11. Must be an American thing. Here in Australia you can say any of the words – right up to “fuck” and “cunt” – on radio or television so long as it’s in adult viewing time. And on our national public radio broadcaster, ABC Radio National, even during daytime hours you can use these words so long as the program is preceded by a warning that it contains “strong language”. Mind you, Radio National doesn’t have any children’s programming on it at all, so it doesn’t attract a young audience. You couldn’t get away with those words in children’s programming, although the occasional minor swear word is OK: “damn”, “hell”, “bloody” and the like.

    Australia has always had a robust culture of swearing that transcends class and cultural barriers. I was at Royal Perth Yacht Club as a guest some years ago (I couldn’t possibly afford to be a member, nor would I be invited to join – it’s extremely exclusive). I was in the bar with a lawyer friend of mine (nice lawyers DO exist). In walks an elderly and very well-dressed man, who sees my friend and says “Jim, you old cunt! How the fuck are you?”

    You have to understand that in Australia this is a warm greeting between close friends – no offence was intended and none taken. Jim introduced me to this man – he was a retired Supreme Court judge.

    Australians: we’re different.

  12. This sort of thing always reminds me of the poor bastard who was forced to apologize for using the word “niggardly” in a public statement. It’s also the reason I could never be a public figure, because my apology would consist of “I’m sorry you’re too stupid to know what ‘niggardly’ means.”

    It’s like the current uproar over the word “retard” – obviously the people who find it offensive have never adjusted the ignition timing on an older gasoline engine.

    The funniest part of all? When I tried to post essentially the same thing in a comment to a Yahoo story, the automatic censor deleted my post, undoubtedly because it contained the offensive words “niggardly” and “retard” – go figure.

    They’re just words, people. They can only hurt you if you’re a dumbass. Sticks and stones, remember?

  13. i think the latest cartoon is funny because everything is now labeled as ‘gluten-free’, even things that are obviously gluten-free like orange juice. i think they are just marketing to people who don’t know what gluten is but think they shouldn’t be eating it. a sex worker could probably make a few extra bucks with some good labeling.

  14. I recently moved and lost my very favorite of all times cartoon. It was two women in heaven sitting on clouds, both playing harps. One said to the other,,”After all I went through I thought I would at least get a parade.” (or something similar to that) I want my headstone to read “I hope I get a parade.” So my children understand that, can you please tell me how to find that cartoon in the archives? I also love the one with the pterodactyl taking the woman off by her hair and her friends thinking she had never look so good! Thanks for your help. You have given me so many good laughs over the years.

    • It sounds like a lovely cartoon but it doesn’t ring a bell with me. I think it was probably not mine. No worries; this kind of mistake is very common. :o)

  15. Guiseppe Madre and Piraro “says:”

    U’ve hit all the bases guys…..HomeRun, Touchdown BullsEye… about those “sticks and stones” and the retards who’ve actually been able to “live by it!”

    Love this strip and especially the blog…….!!!

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