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This cartoon is another collaboration with Becky Hawkins, doing the variety of costumes and environments that she excels at. Here’s a screenshot of what’s in Becky’s folder for this cartoon, just to show you all the research images she used.
Older generations believing that the new generation is uniquely lazy or squalid or worthless seems to be a human universal. When I thought of this cartoon and started doing the research, I was worried about if I’d find enough quotes; instead I found more quotes than I could use. Which is definitely where you want to be with a strip like this one. So I mainly chose the quotes for having some element that amused me – complaining about nick-names, or using the word “fribbles.”
It took me a long time to decide if this cartoon should start with the present and move backwards, ending with the caveman, or if it should move forwards and end with the present day. Either way could have been a good cartoon. But then I remembered that Becky and I had done a caveman punchline fairly recently, in “Feminism Used To Be Good,” so it would be better to avoid repeating that here.
I had to radically shorten most of the quotes to fit into this format. Aristotle’s quote, for example, is actually “Young people are high-minded because they have not yet been humbled by life, nor have they experienced the force of circumstances. They think they know everything and are always quite sure about it.”
The caveman is named “Thag” as a reference to the great “Thagomizer” Far Side cartoon.
Who knew nick-names were once considered offensive?
“Fribbles” is definitely my favorite new-to-me insult word of 2021, so thank you, anonymous letter-writer to Town and Country Magazine in 1771.
I hope Dr. Jean Twenge won’t be too cheesed off if she ever sees this cartoon. The quote is my attempt to thumbnail an amazing 4399-word rant about millennials Dr Twenge had published in Time Magazine, which includes every imaginable cliché in the “these young people today” genre. (To her credit, Dr. Twenge was self-aware enough to begin the article by saying “I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.”)
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has nine panels, arranged in a three-by-three grid. The central panel (panel 5) has no image other than large, friendly, 3-D styled lettering saying “THESE KIDS TODAY HAVE ALWAYS SUCKED.”
Other than panel five, each panel features a single figure speaking, with a caption at the bottom of the panel identifying who they are.
A cartoon caveman sits alone in a cave by a campfire, angrily ranting.
CAVEMAN: Hrrr hrrr. Urg! Grumble grrr huuuh grunt!
CAPTION: Thag, 20,000 BC
A bearded man in ancient Greek dress holds a scroll and rolls his eyes as he speaks to the readers with an irritated expression.
ARISTOTLE: Young people think they know everything! And they’re soooo sure about it!
CAPTION: Aristotle, 4th Century BC
A monk, wearing robes in the style of the Muromachi period of Japanese history, sits in front of a low table, where he’s writing on a scroll. He has paused in his writing to look at the reader.
YOSHIDA KENKO: Modern “fashions” are more and more debased! And their language nowadays is so coarse!
CAPTION: Yoshida Kenko, 1330
A sour-looking man wearing a long wig of white curls looks directly at the reader, raising a forefinger in an admonishing way.
ROBERT RUSSELL: The towns and streets today are filled with lewd wicked children! They curse and swear and call one another nick-names!
CAPTION: Sir Robert Russell, 1695
This panel has nothing in it but the title lettering. In large, friendly, 3d styled lettering, it says THESE KIDS TODAY HAVE ALWAYS SUCKED.
A man in an upper-class 1700s suit sits at a writing-desk, leaning back with his feet on the desk. In one hand he’s holding a quill pen, in the other a bottle of some alcoholic liquid. It’s dark, and a candle on the desk is providing light.
MAN: Whither has the manly vigour of our forefathers flown? Youth today are effeminate, self-admiring, emaciated fribbles!
CAPTION: Town and Country Magazine, 1771
A man with thick gray eyebrows stands in a hilly field; we can see a village in the distance behind him, and sheep in the field. One of the sheep is standing next to him, placidly eating a plant. The man is wearing a brown Irish flat cap and carrying a walking stick, which he is shaking at the reader.
FALKIRK HERALD: Young people are so pampered nowadays that they have forgotten there was such a thing as walking!
CAPTION: Falkirk Herald, 1951
A professionally-dressed woman, with long wavy hair and a blue suit, is sitting behind a table with books displayed on it (one of the books is entitled “Kids 2day” and has a frowny face on the cover; her other book’s cover has a picture an iphone with devil horns and a smiley face). A TV camera is pointed at her, and a microphone is pointed at her. She smiles as she speaks to the camera.
JEAN TWENGE: Millennials got participation trophies growing up! So now they’re fame-obsessed, narcissistic, stunted and lazy.
CAPTION: Dr. Jean Twenge, 2013.
A smartly-dressed woman with spiky white hair sits at the counter of a coffee shop, thumb-typing on her smartphone. She’s got big teardrop earrings and a necklace with a large stone with a spiral pattern. A word balloon points at her smartphone, showing us what she’s typing.
AUNT: And don’t even get me started on Gen Z!
CAPTION: Probably your aunt or something, just last week.