On Strips: What Are We Going To Do About Scott Adams?

By | Friday, June 24, 2016 2 comments
Scott Adams debuted on the newspaper page with Dilbert in 1989. With years of experience in cubicle farms himself, Adams was able to tap into many of the patently absurd situations that people who work in offices regularly find themselves, and Dilbert became pretty popular. Adams won a pair of Reubens for Dilbert within a decade.

Clearly, Adams is a cartoonist whose work a lot of people identify with and respond to. His understanding of corporate culture informs his comics, and he's been hired by any number of companies to give lectures on management and corporate governance. Between the two, he's developed quite an audience who listens to much of what he has to say.

The problem with this, however, is that not everything he has to say makes sense.

Yesterday, for example, he posted a piece on his blog entitled, "The Humiliation of the American Male in 2016." (I'm not going to dignify that with a link.) He then goes on to write this rambling, barely coherent diatribe about how... well, I think his point is supposed to be that men in America have been emasculated, and that's ensconced in the media. His evidence is a detergent commercial in which a man wears a V-neck sweater.


I mean, in the spirit of fairness, I think he's intending the commercial to just be indicative of the emasculation "issue" and not really incontrovertible evidence, but there's still a million flaws in his reasoning. Which I'll spare you from enumerating here. But his post on the whole is incredibly sexist (even though he claims he's immune from the charge because he's going to vote for Hillary Clinton -- !?!) and wrong-headed on so many levels.

Which leads me to my titular question: what are we going to do about Scott Adams?

He's legally allowed to say everything he does, of course. He's welcome to use his forum to spout any nonsense he likes. But is there anything we can do to quiet his influence? He pops up in the news about once a month these days with some "crazy uncle" style comments about intellectual property, Donald Trump, V-neck sweaters, or whatever. And people not only continue giving him a platform, but listen to him! Can we just not? Can we just pat him on the head, tell him "that's nice" and send him back to his drawing board to stick to drawing comics about silly office shenanigans? Why do people still give him their attention beyond the funny pages?

I was talking about Al Capp last week. He was a cartoonist who did much the same thing, parlaying the popularity of his strip into some level of personal fame. He was on talk shows and interviewed in magazines, even landing on the cover of Time Magazine. But as he grew older, and his views became more out of touch with the American people, he began losing credibility and relevance. Can we do that with Adams now?
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Sure! We also did it with Dave Sim, who used to be a defining (if not the defining) voice in the alternative comics market, the same one that produced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The fact that I bring up the TMNT instead of Sim's own work because I know more people will be familiar with the former should tell you something there.

Unfortunately, that's a frustratingly slow process: as long as people en masse are willing to give him a podium, he'll keep talking and they'll keep listening. I'd worry more about finding other voices to magnify than quieting his, though. It's hard to do serious work about the latter without treading into First Amendment-endangering territory.

Anonymous said...

You simply use your own free speech to point out that he's a sad little MRA pencil dick and laugh at him and his inadequacies as a human being.