Friday, September 7, 2007

F Minus cartoon slanders geezers

Goddammit. This proves my point.

I really like the dark humor in Tony Carrillo's new cartoon strip called F Minus. It's sometimes edgy, sometimes oblique and nearly always right on.

But today he's gone too far. Look for yourself. It crosses the line and ridicules older people who might be suffering from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or dementia.

Exactly who is going to take him to task? Nobody, that's who. If we are lucky, AARP will give the cartoonist a slap on the wrist in their monthly magazine.

That's too late. We need an advocate who will jump on this right now. Forcefully. Make it hurt. Make him apologize, sure. But more than that, make Americans aware that we will not allow this kind of generational slime go unchallenged.

Why don't the elderly in America get respect? Because of crap like this cartoon.

We're going to have to do it ourselves.

Send the cartoonist an e-mail: and tell him he's funny, but this cartoon is not.

Send the same message to his syndicate, United Feature Syndicate, Debra Graynor, head of Customer Service,

I'm sure the cartoonist did not mean to insult the infirmed. But he did. The larger point is that this abuse will happen every damn day unless we take a stand.

Now I feel just like John Belushi's character "Bluto"in Animal House when he asked: "All right, who's with me?"



Anonymous said...

Damn straight. If this kind of not-funny cartoon were directed toward any aspect of the gay/lesbian community, there'd be hell to pay. Why can't we geezers get better organized and have a voice to protest stereotypes? It SHOULD be AARP. Maybe you're going to have to do it, Phenix!

Lindsay said...

Where in this comic is there any mention of Alzheimer's or dementia?

George Phenix said...

Mr. Carrillo:

I was wrong to say "make it hurt." And I'm sorry for that.

But I was mad as hell at the hurt caused by your cartoon.

I was mad when I thought of my 83-year-old friend who died recently of Alzheimer's. He would stand at his door, like the character in your cartoon, wanting out. His wife had to put child-proof locks on the door to keep him from wandering off.

I was mad when I thought of my 68-year-old friend suffering from Parkinson's who cries when the the words in his brain will not, cannot make it out of his mouth.

And I was mad when I thought of the people who take care of them, giving up large parts of their own lives to watch over loved ones.

I could give you more examples but will stop. Here's my point: when someone says a stereotype is hurtful to them, then the honest, thoughtful humorist stops.

Your cartoon was not funny. It was hurtful. And if enough of us are brave enough stand up to this kind of thoughtless abuse, it will gradually diminish.

And I am sorry that you cannot understand this. You will someday.

Anonymous said...

Chill out. You laugh at stereotypes of others in his comics, yet when they somehow relate to you, you freak out. Maybe he did "slander" old people. He "slanders everyone.

Anonymous said...

This is an insane overreaction.

My great-grandfather died of Alzheimer's after a gut-wrenching 10-year battle. I did not find the cartoon offensive. It's hilarious.

Lighten up. Nobody and nothing is too sacred to make fun of in F Minus. That's what makes it great.

Anonymous said...

After reading some of the comments you recieved after your "F"Minus blog, I can certainly see for sure that a lot of people have no compassion,not of people getting older,but to see something so obviously disparaging as a dependent elderly man being the butt of a very non-funny cartoon.
Could this "old" man be the one who got you the things that your folks couldn't?Or maybe it was your DAD,You remember him! He was the one who taught you how to play baseball,catch a fish,camp out and survivie on your own.Or maybe it is one of your old teachers who would love to regain his strength so he could share even more of his knowledge with you. After all,these people are all old now and in the way. Forget the fact that you have all the modern conveniences that were invented by someone who is old now.
OK NOW just put the leash on the old man and let him outside.I'm sure you'll get a real laugh out of it. Go get 'em George

Carter Castor said...

First of all, let me laugh out loud at your last poster that began "damn straight." Older people are the absolutely best politically organized group in the country. They don't need to make cartoonists pay hell because they get their agenda lock, stock, and barrel. Ever wonder why even the most conservative Republican fails to speak out against very socially and economically liberal programs such as social security and medicare (both of which I believe are appropriate)? Four letters: AARP. One word: re-election.

I've watched my great uncle gradually deteriorate from Parkinson's so I know the very real harm it caused. I still laughed when I saw the comic. But even if you didn't find it funny, what you are advocating is censorship. Is he going to stop doing comics about every group that protests until finally all he can do is write jokes about the effects of caffeine in coffee?

Sorry, I'm not going to write to the cartoonist to advocate censorship. He has no agenda, and he can't make good comics while trying to second guess himself to make sure no one is offended by one of the 365 comics he has to produce every year.

Anonymous said...

You say, "Why don't the elderly in America get respect? Because of crap like this cartoon." as oppose to elderly people in Spain?

Noah said...

You've got to be kidding me. It's a slippery slope, George. If you tell cartoonists they can't poke gentle fun at a certain topic, then they'll start asking themselves, "Well, what can I make fun of?" There are no sacred cows. Either it's all in play, or it's all off limits. Personally, I prefer the former.

I work at a newspaper that publishes Tony's comic, and when I saw today's strip before it went to press last night, I laughed. Frankly, I found it pretty innocent. Granted, I'm not a "geezer" (which, if I'm not mistaken, is not the most flattering term for the elderly), but I don't see a cause for outrage here.

Heck, look at the bright side. You're reaping the benefits of Social Security, and it'll be all used up by the time my (and Tony's) generation reaches retirement age! So allow us whippersnappers a little dig every once in a while. We'd do the same for you. :)

David W. said...

I'm totally going to write AARP and the syndication people to stop running F minus. Tony Carillo's Reign of Blood, Death and Tyranny should be stopped immediately. Thanks for being the comic police and telling me what I think should be offensive.
On a serious note, it's incredibly insulting to tell someone that they are too young understand the plight of elderly. That's going to far.
With that, I'm boycotting your blog. I will never return.
I mean it.
I'm not coming back.

Jay said...

This is a gross overreaction.

With so much drivel on the comics page, none of us should be advocating censorship of, or punishment of, a single strip with even the slightest of edginess. And, in this case, there wasn't all that much edginess. You read into the comic some kind of statement about dementia or Parkinson's. That was you, not Tony Carrillo.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Carillo should be forgiven for his slight misjudgement in Friday's comic in light of the valuable public warning written into Thursday's comic.We have a right to know about these things, and I for one am glad that Mr. Carillo cares enough about his readers to provide us with this information. It is a matter of public safety. We have to watch out! Old people are trying to buy our souls!

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I fail to see why this cartoon is crossing the line, and jokes and references in your blogs about the vicissitudes of aging (see "New Reality Show..." and others) do not. I think "the line" has to do with intent to disparage a certain group. I don't think you or Mr. Carillo have that intent.

s.l.d. said...

Cross-posted comment waiting approval on F minus blog:

Admittedly, I have an eccentric sense of humor, but I wonder if making fun of band geeks and jocks is really similar to making fun of those with a serious health condition.

An elderly person standing at a door implies that grandpa isn't quite aware and it is not a stretch to assume it is caused by a condition such as dementia.

Some people are more sensitive and empathetic than others, so the reaction to your more dark-humored comics should not come as a surprise.

Lots of comics pride themselves on being shocking and sardonic, but if anything I think Generation X overplayed this tedious and predictable schtick--this coming from someone who has been known to send links from the dark webcomic "Cyanide and Happiness" and who has spent too many nights watching "Mr. Show" and "South Park."

A senior discount is several decades away for me, but I can see how someone could lash out at yet another jab at older people. I must be becoming soft and empathetic in my "old" age or maybe the old lesson about respecting my elders has finally reared its head.

I do not know if I am truly offended or just deeply unimpressed by another rather predictible cheap shot taken at those who cannot defend themselves. While the idealistic Mr. Phenix has a bit of fire in his belly, he is nevertheless a brilliant humorist.

s.l.d. cowen

Sam said...

This is just a response to Goose. I was wondering if he feels that the comic would be funnier if the backstory of the Old Man was the father that ran out on his kids, or the scumbag that used to steal cars for a living, or even just the bitter, disillusioned man with no sense of humor that consistently made his family miserable with biting, sardonic comments and misplaced anger?

The South Plainsman said...

George, you and Goose both know how to stir something up. I took care of two in laws and my aged mother for nine years. Two of them suffered from strokes, the other from Alzheimer's. Believe me, it is terrible and tragic to see loved ones in that situation. I learned at least two things (more, actually) from the experience. The first is that one must take care of the caretakers first. Another is that one must search for humor in those circumstances because it is far too sad if you don't. A defense mechanism, as it were. I did not find the comic offensive, nor was it particularly original. I will visit his site and get a better perspective about the comic.

Meanwhile, let's put the heat on AARP to get something done to make Social Security and Medicare viable for a few more generations.

Anonymous said...

I more upset by the fact that this cartoon clearly advocates helping the elderly by opening doors for them! OPEN YOUR OWN DOOR!

Anonymous said...

Its fair play all around. The only reason F- gets the slam from people like you is because its popular. I hunt down all types of syndicate comics and have read much worse. Lighten up.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how so many of us become more thin-skinned as we age. (That's not a reference to dermatological changes in the elderly).

Anonymous said...

One of the things that I hate about old people is how they are such giant babies about everything.

Blog of Ages said...

Yeah. A long, slow death has a funny affect on a person.

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