First, notice how relationship changes as things get lower and lower:
- The Admiral bows in submission, the King keeps a respectful distance.
- The Businessman returns the salute while bowing to the Admiral.
- The Supervisor is slightly frightened, but is still open to the Businessman (whose expressive hand is pointing, not in a fist).
- The worker has his hands in front while the supervisor is shouting at him.
- The worker’s wife is frightened (but dares not raise her hands to protect) while the worker shouts at her.
- The worker’s wife grabs at her son and threatens him bodily harm.
- The son kicks the cat.
Basically, the relationships get rougher as you go lower. One could argue that the lower levels are more honest, but if there’s one thing the Japanese (who pack much more people into their smallish space than we would ever think of doing) know, it’s that sometimes keeping nice is the best way to do things. After all, one thinks that the higher one goes, the more trustworthy that person would be.
Not only that, but one gets the impression that the people lower on the ladder feel the weight stronger, as if the kid kicking the cat not only had to do with his mother, but everyone above her up to the king himself. Not only that, but I would guess that he only feels his mother’s presence; as the higher up one goes the the more they’re aware of what’s above them. The admiral’s aware of the king but only of the king on top; everyone else (except the kid and cat) is aware of what’s both above them and what’s above that. The worker probably doesn’t think of the King except on certain national holidays.
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So what brought me to comment on this cartoon? Another Cartoon, on the long-lamentable For Better or For Worse. It’s a rerun, one of the more interesting ones in that it replicates the above cartoon in a family setting.
Some say the above is better than the FBOFW (aka FOOB) version. They miss the major problem with that: That every generation and every person has to put things to their reality. We don’t always have the wide selection of lectures, lyrics and images that allow us the access to the best everyone has ever said/done, so we work our own versions. And sometimes it makes sense.
Even so, sometimes the best of the past doesn’t match up to what the artist is expressing. I remember hearing a compact disk about general teenage malaise. Sure, I could say it’s been done better elsewhere, but some of the details this band was dealing with were not dealt with in the earlier works. Indeed, with the rapid changes of technology and how it affects how we deal with people, it’s entirely possible that what comes up now won’t be comprehensible to people twenty years from now.
The FBOFW deals with a narrower reality, and does so with the idea of a punch line/recognition from the reader’s life. The above cartoon stands as a teaching tool of sorts from what I’m guessing is a socialistic/anarchistic format. A different angle, different outcome aimed at.