Random Observation about the Far Side

So on my desk I keep a pad made from an old Far Side calendar. As I take notes of what I should be doing during the day (e.g., "Apply for job!", "Finish dissertation!", "Counsel student!", "Don't lose your mind!", etc.), I peel off the cartoons and get a little laugh from times past.

One thing I've noticed, though, by contrast with today's cartoons and themes, is the near total absence of any humor related to homosexuality, gay men, lesbian women, etc. While you can argue that most of Gary Larson's characters are pretty asexual, it still is fascinating that you don't see any recognizable gay men, or gay jokes, in the cartoons. Syndicated from 1980 to 1995, the Far Side had the sense not to use gay jokes for cheap laughs back when that was acceptable, but looking at it 11 years or more later, it's also striking that the series ended before using gay themes as a form of "laughing with" humor, rather than "laughing at" humor, became accetable in American culture.

It's a fascinating koan to ponder: if Gary Larson had written the Far Side after the advent of Will and Grace, would some of the cows have been gay?

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