0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

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PHDrillSergeant
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby PHDrillSergeant » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:42 pm UTC

To the people claiming to be offended by this webcomic: You are quite obviously trolls.
To the people arguing with them: You have been trolled.

Of course, if anyone actually is offended (which I seriosuly doubt), then bear in mind you have the option to not read this webcomic. Exercise your right.

folo
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby folo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:46 pm UTC

netslpit wrote:You know dropping an anvil on actual coyote would be horrible too. This comic was great, classic Black Hat Guy.


jpk wrote:Yep! Hi-larious!

(you're the guy who decided to take out the guns from Bugs Bunny, aren't you? Bastard)


The differences between the Warner Brothers cartoons, which are excellent, and this xkcd are rather large.

Bugs Bunny/Road Runner: lots of jokes, much effort was put into the drawing, coloring, shading, water coloring, sound effects, musical score, dialogue, story, social and political commentary, wit, etc., etc.

xkcd #954: black and white stick figure who wears a black hat creates a dangerous situation (no joke, no effort in drawing or writing it, nor effort in much else of it).

#954 is like if Randall drew a comic of Black Hat guy up on a cliff, looking down at the coyote many feet below and he then pushes an anvil on him... with no story or joke development as in #954. It's not comparable to the great classics of American cartoon in any appreciable way. It's not the situation or story that makes #954 horrible. The main thing is that there's no joke (or if there is supposed to be, it is so horribly executed as to be unrecognizable as such). There's no story. There's hardly effort anywhere in this one. A huge steaming pile of fail.

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-KF-
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby -KF- » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:48 pm UTC

Since I didn't immediately scroll down, I didn't realize there was more to the comic than the first six panels until I read the mouseover text. And the first six panels on their own were enough to amuse me; I think they would be sufficient as their own comic.

Chasmosaur
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Chasmosaur » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:49 pm UTC

Sorry - as someone who once stopped this type of thing from happening on a shorter DC Metro escalator (Wheaton Station being the 70 m escalator), I don't find this funny.

Some woman was too busy gossiping with her friend to hop her kid's monster stroller over the end plate at the top of the escalator. It got stuck and the handle rammed her in the gut and she started falling back into me. As I had been paying attention, I grabbed onto the side rails, stopped her fall with my body, went down one step, and then used my forward movement to shove her and the stroller over the plate.

She and her friend (who *had* successfully hopped her monster stroller) looked at me like I was the world's biggest meanie for shoving her when I asked if they were okay and they stalked away. The people behind me (whose asses I'd saved) were more appreciative and made sure I was okay (while using some choice words to describe the woman with the stroller). The biggest thing that pissed me off about it was that the platform elevator was functional and sitting on the platform. They could have taken the elevator and avoided the whole thing.

Trasvi
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Trasvi » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:51 pm UTC

Get out of my head Randall!!





Seriously, I get f**ing frustrated at people who don't walk up escalators.

Also: violence is funny. It has been funny since, well, ever. See slapstick. Also, the coliseum. We may pretend that we're an extremely ethical society by moving our violence back to cartoons and comic strips, but we still get a laugh out of it sometimes. I'm sure I've seen multiple cartoons and movies involving unstoppable escalators, revolving doors, a 'domino effect' of people that pushes one off the edge. The alt-text made me think of a group of hundreds of people racing down the elevator in sync to never reach the bottom.

Actually, this might be a really good study of how impressionable we are by media. Monitor the media closely for the next week to see the % increase in elevator-related deaths...

another josh
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby another josh » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:52 pm UTC

If this is indeed an escalator in the Washington DC Metro system (which does have a 70 meter escalator as previously noted) then it really doesn't need someone like Black Hat Guy to cause chaos like this. The escalators are falling apart on their own accord and they can't fix them fast enough. Just in the last few years there have been incidents. One where the brakes failed on one after a large gathering on the National Mall causing several injuries, and another where after walking to the top of a longer escalator that was stopped (stopped escalators, also called staircases, are common in the system) passengers found several steps missing, leaving greased rods and a pit to cross. I think there have been other incidents as well.

Part of the problem is that several escalators are outdoors and uncovered, part is that there are just so many of them and maintenance and funds just can't keep up, and part is that they are just getting older.

kfitch42
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby kfitch42 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:53 pm UTC

scikidus wrote:For those who are curious, the escalators in question are probably the DC Metro: Wheaton station escalators.


If it truly was a DC metro escalator, the stampeded would have only lasted at most 5 minutes before the escalator broke down.

To be honest my first guess was the dupont circle escalator. ( turns out that is only 57m long)

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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Felstaff » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:54 pm UTC

PHDrillSergeant wrote:To the people claiming to be offended by this webcomic: You are quite obviously trolls.

Cite one post where someone has explicitly said the comic offended them.

"I don't find this comic funny/good/entertaining" is not being offended.
"Playing a prank like that is dangerous" is not being offended.

Comparisons between Wile E. Coyote and Black Hat Person are not particularly strong arguments either. I can't get my hands on an anvil too easily, let alone precariously balance it upon a mountain top. I can, however, purchase a chin-up bar relatively easy, and find an escalator. In the space of about ten minutes, given my location, I can recreate this comic.

This is a simple prank, and easily mimicked. Indeed, someone came up with the idea before Randall, and put it into practice, resulting in injury. What did that make them? An asshole, of course! Not a classhole, but your common garden dickhead!
Away, you scullion! you rampallion! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.

shirosuzume
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby shirosuzume » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:56 pm UTC

This is the closest I've seen to a justification of the comic: it's not supposed to be funny. Okay, then, what is the point? I could agree with you if BHG was targeting some generally hated demographic, or had some personal vendetta against them, as in "No One Must Know". This is random violence.


Maybe it's not that BHG is trying to kill unfortunate innocent people, maybe he's trying to encourage people to think creatively in an emergency, or trying to promote survival of the fittest? (Yeah, I know, that sort of necessitates the death, or at least the failure to reproduce, of the "unfit").

Interestingly, the very first couple behind BHG (at least, the guy with the glasses and goatee... his dark haired ?girlfriend is more generic) doesn't appear to be in the giant pile of people cascading down the escalator in the last panel. Maybe they scooted out underneath, or jumped over? Clearly they didn't remove the obstruction.

Ever see the movie Unbreakable?
Spoiler:
Samuel L. Jackson's villain tries to justify himself by explaining that all of his mass murdering type actions are done in order to find the special ones that have special powers (like Bruce Willis).

I'm also probably grossly overthinking this. :D Still, it's a fun way to spend a quiet Wednesday morning.

Jimbo2K7
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Jimbo2K7 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:02 pm UTC

This is what it really looks like, except going down...

http://youtu.be/UPHftYgSdwA

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ShortChelsea
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby ShortChelsea » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:02 pm UTC

I thought it was funny. I thought humans were made to laugh at horrible things.

CDRW
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby CDRW » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:28 pm UTC

Huh. A bunch of overly literal people who can't understand a simple joke.

I gues it's true. XKCD's audience is primarily autistic children.

dp2
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby dp2 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:30 pm UTC

CDRW wrote:Huh. A bunch of overly literal people who can't understand a simple joke.

I gues it's true. XKCD's audience is primarily autistic children.

So whats the joke? No one has explained it as a joke yet.

ssvanguard
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby ssvanguard » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:32 pm UTC

Yeah, overall pretty weak. Like another poster, it took this comic for me to bother creating a forum account.

The comic isn't just showing (stick) people get injured, it's *glorifying* that behavior as portrayed by Mr. Smug-Know-It-All-Stupid-Hat-Guy.

And I don't think it's just me who hears "Hey, look, doing dumb pranks that hurt people makes you cool!" when I read the comic.

Besides, Mr. Smug-Know-It-All-Stupid-Hat-Guy gets egg on his face when he makes a point to give a snarky "And I'm not really a not-carrying-a-chin-up-bar person" response, only to relinquish his chin-up bar a mere three panels later.

Apparently you are a not-carrying-a-chin-up-bar kind of person, sir...apparently, you are.

MrRubix
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby MrRubix » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:35 pm UTC

I personally didn't find the comic to be in good taste.

No, I am not some stickler, either (lord knows I've laughed at horrible things and have played more violent games than I care to name). People who are bringing up examples of slapstick and dynamite are missing the point. A bunny armed with a rifle, or a coyote being hit with anvils, or a stick figure seeking out a crossbow are all *obviously* farfetched in their depiction of danger, and we can laugh at them for how blatantly over-the-top they are. That's what makes them funny.

But in this case, the only real humor is that the Black Hat guy is a dick, but what he's doing is not intuitively over the top -- especially considering that this very thread has debate as to whether or not it's even dangerous! The last thing we need is a couple of hurfdurfy morons trying this out in real life because they think it'd be funny to watch. There may be plenty of smart people who enjoy xkcd, but there are also tons of idiots who brag about liking xkcd to establish faux nerd-cred.

Generally speaking, xkcd has, as of late, been putting forth a lot of ignorance (the biology strip and the obvious oversight of the password strip = prime examples) while much of the rest of the webseries has been primarily ABOUT correcting people and making fun of ignorance. The webcomic stops being funny when it starts to become guilty of the things it criticizes. I think Randall was being a bit irresponsible with this comic when you consider the nature of the fanbase. I just hope nobody is stupid enough to actually try this, but I don't like that Randall took the risk when he could have made a funnier, wittier comic in its place.
Last edited by MrRubix on Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:40 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

LLK
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby LLK » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:35 pm UTC

I agree that it was funny - the wonderful think about BHG is that he feeds our dark sides.

Not that it would ever be okay to do something like this in real life - that's what fiction and comics are for.

shirosuzume wrote: Maybe it's not that BHG is trying to kill unfortunate innocent people, maybe he's trying to encourage people to think creatively in an emergency, or trying to promote survival of the fittest? (Yeah, I know, that sort of necessitates the death, or at least the failure to reproduce, of the "unfit")


I respect those who don't think this is funny and they have a right to voice that opinion, but I don't feel that those that did think this was funny would laugh if this actually happened in real life.

Colin OOOD
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Colin OOOD » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:36 pm UTC

This is the first time that I've found a comment thread to be funnier than the comic it discusses. Keep it up chaps and chapesses!

LLK
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby LLK » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:37 pm UTC

Colin OOOD wrote:This is the first time that I've found a comment thread to be funnier than the comic it discusses. Keep it up chaps and chapesses!


Totally agreed!

yokem55
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby yokem55 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:38 pm UTC

The Wiki has a descent list of escalator accidents here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escalator#Accidents

While I'm not offended by this one, as one who had 2 members of my immediate family severely injured in the Coors Field incident, I really fail to see the humor here....

sotanaht
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby sotanaht » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:43 pm UTC

GulliNL wrote:
sotanaht wrote:Just for some perspective, a 70 meter escalator is roughly 10-12 stories tall at its highest. "Falling down the stairs" for that far is pretty likely to be lethal.


Not that I think it would be less lethal, but I believe the height is about 40 meters. If the longest escalator is 70m long he means the hypotenuse. I'm guessing the angle is about 35 degrees so the leg (or height of the escalator) should be roughly 40m.

Still, with about 6-7 stories it can't be a nice landing...

Edit: Hmm, it could be you weren't talking about a 70m tall escalator at all. It all comes down to how high you think one floor of the store would be :D


Yep... I did a quick search, found escalators are standard at 30 degrees, and that floors average between 3 and 4 meters each (depending on what type of building).

Phil_hi
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Phil_hi » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:53 pm UTC

dp2 wrote:
CDRW wrote:Huh. A bunch of overly literal people who can't understand a simple joke.

I gues it's true. XKCD's audience is primarily autistic children.

So whats the joke? No one has explained it as a joke yet.


It is schadenfreude; it's funny to some people because they're observing the misfortune these random (fictional!) strangers had in encountering BHG. It's not funny, again, to some people, because the conclusion one can draw from the comic is decidedly dark. That is,

"Your safety in a crowd is dependent upon the assumption that the crowd will behave reasonably. Reasonable behavior can be disrupted at any time by any single person inducing a panic in one or more person. (eg. The brandishing of a weapon)"

Forgive me if I don't find trampling funny.

ShenCS
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby ShenCS » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:54 pm UTC

Does nobody simply consider the joke to be that such a simple and carefree act can cause mass-devastation? That's what is funny about it. Yes, you should never attempt it in real life, yes it is possible in real life but that doesn't make it unfunny (as that is entirely subjective, not that anyone is saying that it is empirically unfunny). Like someone said, it's funny because of how unexpected it is. One of the main arguments against this comic is that the equipment is easily obtainable and that's what messes with our expectations. How you feel about the comic's content aside, this is a very well executed piece of writing as it manages to stay within character for BHG and at the same time surprise us due to our own interpretations of the character and the author.
Also, this is "classhole" rather than "asshole" because, like a class act, he's totally professional about it (terrible choice of words). He doesn't stand around guffawing then gets arrested. He goes up, does what he set out to do and then goes down. It's important to note that he went back down. This was literally his only goal from the onset. Do remember though that being a classhole is STILL being an asshole.

CodexDraco
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby CodexDraco » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:00 pm UTC

The first thing I thought when I read the comic was that it was so obviously dangerous and that BHG would likely end up in prison. The fact that so many people in this thread don't see it (and apparently neither does Randall) makes me sad.

I hope nobody actually tries this.

CodexDraco
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby CodexDraco » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:04 pm UTC

PHDrillSergeant wrote:Of course, if anyone actually is offended (which I seriosuly doubt), then bear in mind you have the option to not read this webcomic. Exercise your right.


You have the right not to read post criticizing Randall comics. I demand that you exercise your right.

CDRW
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby CDRW » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:10 pm UTC

CodexDraco wrote:The first thing I thought when I read the comic was that it was so obviously dangerous...I hope nobody actually tries this.

Perhaps the obvious is obvious to other people as well? Perhaps the obvious is so obviously obvious that nobody would actually try the obviously dangerous trick in real life because it would obviously result in some obvious injuries? Perhaps the reason this so obviously unnaceptable prank is so funny is because it is so obviously dangerous and malicious that nobody except, I don't know, maybe a character like the BHG, would do something that would so obviously result in injuries.

rcox1
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby rcox1 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:13 pm UTC

MadZab wrote:The mishaps of Will E. Coyote are funny because he builds these elaborate traps time and time again, in his eternal (and undying) hunt of that one bird and they always, always end up working against him. THAT is the humor in it. Now if he were to build an elaborate death trap and it would simply work, killing the Road Runner, that might be interesting for breaking the concept of the show but it wouldn't be funny without the context of it breaking the rule that was established beforehands. BHG casually strapping a piano-wire across a road would have the same effect.

And yes, a lot of people even in this thread seem to think it would be a harmless prank in real life. The internet does indeed make you stupid.


One funny thing about this comic is that some people advocate spending huge amounts of resources on security to feel safe and often these measures end up working against them. Or they build huge structures trying to be grander than everyone else, and in the end makes things less safe. They ignore the safety because an inflated self esteem is more important than public security.

It is further humorous as many of these security countermeasures defend against elaborate death traps seen only in movies, while leaving us fully vulnerable to small somewhat else realistic attacks. In the end is is the fact that most people who do mass harm are not extremely competent, such as the underwear bomber and the Atlanta Olympic bomber, that limits the damage they do.

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IllvilJa
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby IllvilJa » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:16 pm UTC

Ooh.. this will be one of my favorite XKCD strips, along with "Nerd Sniping" and other classics!

Why? Oh, tons of reasons... but primarily BHG's answer on a question why he did something in panel 7:

"How should I know? I'm not a psychologist."

I do already imagine a lot of situations when I would find that reply very convenient.


Other than that, the comic is fun to me for the macabre contrast between the causal setup of the trap (and the traps simplicity) and the mayhem it causes. Not to mention the dialog between NHG and BHG where NHG figures out that BHG is up to something bad (if for nothing else because BHG is up to something which in the end always turns out to be bad) but BHG so causally and efficiently fends off NHGs efforts to figure out and prevent whatever is coming.

Sure, the comic is gross and tasteless (but not gory, but that's more a matter of graphical esthetics I think) but that won't prevent me from laughing at it. Which does not mean I laugh at any real life events that happen to be similar, simply because they happened for real.

And it contains no violence against kids, neither does it depict violence solely aimed at women as both men and women are piled up on that escalator. So I think the chaos in the last panel is mostly hilarous slapstick.

(Road runner + Coyote OTOH are mostly boring IMHO)

Best regards

/IllvilJa

MrRubix
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby MrRubix » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:24 pm UTC

The comic by itself I'd normally find humorous, but the humor drained itself when I thought about how many idiots would seriously consider trying it IRL.

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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby rabidmuskrat » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:25 pm UTC

I would love to see how people would actually respond to this.

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hifi
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby hifi » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Oh for gods sake. You 'oh he actually commits murder you gaiz!' people are really annoying. It's a bloody comic strip! What's the matter, were you born without a sense of humour or did you have it surgically removed? Yes, it's murder (well, it's not - it's a bunch of lines drawn on some paper), but for crying out loud, half the stuff around you these days is all about that (see GTA, Cyanide and Happiness, every single Call Of Duty type FPS) and to say that th..

What's that? Nowhere in the comic or alt-text does it say anyone died? Funny, it just says it lasted two hours and reached the bottom 3 times. Distinct lack of, er.. murder or death there, don't you think? In an xkcd world where stick figures are killed weekly, this is quite tame. Actually, being stuck in a rolling ball of people for two hours sounds, painful, sure, but also bloody good fun.


And to address later posts, yes, BHG was being a dick, but I reiterate - it's a comic strip! There's no reason to analyse the psychology of BHG any further than 'he's a dick'. And I'd hope that everyone who reads xkcd has enough brain cells to realise that in the real world, yes, this would inappropriate, people would get hurt, BHG would be punished etc etc but if you wanted realism, why are you reading xkcd? The whole point of comics is to get the stuff in your imagination onto paper (or the internet), not to be realistic. Ok, Randalls imagination is obviously a little darker than the majority here, but again, it's imagination, not realism he's drawing. I can't imagine how anyone could take this seriously.
Last edited by hifi on Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:36 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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faranim
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby faranim » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:28 pm UTC

Does anyone have a link to a tension-based Chinup bar like shown in the comic? The only type of Chinup bar I've seen is one that goes over a doorframe.

I just don't understand how you could install a tension bar that wouldn't dislodge after 2-3 people's weight was placed on top of it. What mechanism do they use to stay in place, and how much weight do they normally support?

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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Sandry » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:30 pm UTC

So I'm not particularly offended by this comic, but I didn't think it was particularly funny.

I did feel compelled to post, however, because a very close version of the comic has happened to me in real life.

I was leaving Penn Station (NY), and a woman was taking one of those upright carts you often see people use for carrying groceries up the escalator directly in front of me. It was just wide enough that it didn't clear the end of the escalator when she got to the top. I was directly behind her. The fact that I'm okay is, I am pretty sure, directly due to the fact that this was a fairly short escalator.

What happened:
First few people including me notice her struggling, start walking backwards on the escalator.
We are prevented from continuing to do this after the first few seconds because of the backlog of people.
People start yelling not to come up, to try to turn off the escalator, etc.
Within seconds we are pushed into the lady and vaulted over her cart that's blocking everything up.
Unfortunately, there are *rails* around the escalator at the top, so we're blocked in with people being funneled on top of us.
I had multiple people on top of me and trying to get away. A lady stepped on my face while trying to escape. I didn't break anything, I think largely because I had one hand free, and was using it to support some of her weight by holding up her thigh/butt.
Within about a minute, someone got to the emergency shutoff, so thankfully the pile of people only got to around a half dozen or so. It could have been much worse.

Seriously, I don't have an issue with it as a comic, but if you think this would be funny in real life, you are a gigantic asshole. You should work on being less of a gigantic asshole, and stop assuming that everyone who wouldn't clear the obstacle is stupid. Many people are on the escalator in the first place because they are elderly or have limited mobility. These people would likely die if this happened in real life.

This concept in a comic? Fine - stick figures don't have internal organs much, anyhow. But don't be offended if people don't find it funny, or a good idea for a real life prank, for fuck's sake.
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Mr. Burke
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Mr. Burke » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:39 pm UTC

jefnvk wrote:
And spoiler: the coyote never died


And unless I am missing something, the comic doesn't show or imply anyone dying, unlike plenty of others.


Yes, and therein lies the problem. This isn't cartoony violence (where people survive obviously deadly event) or GTA violence (where people visibly die). This is a deadly prank made to look harmless. Some idiot might see it, think “hey, that would be funny!” and try to act it out.

And then serve life in prison.

CDRW
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby CDRW » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:41 pm UTC

You know...life in prison isn't sounding so bad if it gives me a chance to piss off the people who think anybody's stupid enough to actually....

Wait a minute.

Alltat
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Alltat » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:43 pm UTC

Interesting how many people don't see the suggested problem of the comic.

A comic about BHG killing people is harmless.
A comic about BHG pulling a practical joke is harmless.
A comic about BHG pulling an obviously very dangerous practical joke that kills people is harmless.
A comic about BHG pulling a practical joke which is not obviously dangerous, but which is likely to get people killed, is not-so-harmless.

Anyone who disagrees with the "not obviously dangerous" part only needs to look through this thread and count the people who claim it's silly to think this would be dangerous. Anyone who thinks this isn't dangerous only needs to consider just how powerful an engine needs to be in order to pull 100 people up. If you think it's too slow to be dangerous, just consider a person being run over by a steamroller or consider how many people die from being crushed during riots, concerts and fires... and that's when the floor isn't moving at all. If you think simply stepping over the chin-up bar is so easy that people can't fail at it, I have one word for you: seniors (or "handicapped"; take your pick).

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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:51 pm UTC

Fucking escalefters deserve it.

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CatCube
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby CatCube » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:51 pm UTC

I'll admit I chuckled at the comic, but it was mostly interesting thinking about the dynamics of a crowd in that situation. Once a crowd gets above a certain density, its members lose most of their autonomy and can only react to what the people around them do. One of the danger signs if you're in a huge crowd is that you'll start to feel waves--not like "the Wave" of people in a crowd, actual compression waves--traveling back and forth. Since the crowd density is so high, people push the person in front of them, who pushes the person in front of them, and it propagates forward. It's similar to traffic, where they talk about Levels of Service. Once the density on a road is high enough, a jam can be caused by traffic shocks, which could be something as simple as someone suddenly applying their brakes for a second (not stopping). The person behind them slows down a little more than they do, the person behind them slows down a little more than they did, and the person behind them even more, and some ways back you have people that are practically stopping. Cars are still feeding in at the same rate, so the queue grows. Voila! Traffic jam.

If you're in a crowded area, you don't have as much control as you might think. On the escalator in the comic, if there were enough people (no gaps for someone to fall into or step back) there's absolutely nothing that even a perfectly fit, attentive person can do. The wave of people falling passes backwards over the person, the escalator keeps feeding people in at a constant rate, and all he or she can do is pray.

MrRubix
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby MrRubix » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:31 pm UTC

Even if you're one of those guys who thinks it's funny to line a toilet seat with hard-to-see super glue, or make crank calls to 911 on April Fool's Day, or splatter a touch of 3-million-plus-Scoville-rated hot pepper liquid into someone's food -- at least you're not (hopefully) dumb enough to pull this sort of thing IRL because of how obviously damaging these things could be.

Like most humor, it's all about context. This escalator joke would be funny in a different context, but in this case, it comes across as a dick move that could seriously hurt people and give supremely-bored douche-nerds something to experiment with.

In all seriousness, I doubt anyone's going to try this, but I've been wrong before in these kinds of situations.

Ehsanit
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Ehsanit » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Now we all know why Randal persists in his desire to try running up the down escalator...

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Woopate
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Re: 0954: "Chin-Up Bar"

Postby Woopate » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:47 pm UTC

I am in the "this is funny" camp. As to the people asking what the joke is, I thought it was all about the nature of BHG.

We initially see BHG on the escalator with a strange device. The second panel establishes that BHG knows exactly what escalator this is and this allows us to infer he is there for a reason. Immediately we think 'oh god what is he up to?' because we know he is black hat guy. We do not know what the thing in his hands is yet. I think this is the critical part of the humor. And is a common comedy trope "what is (trickster) up to?". We know through xkcd canon that BHG guy will likely act maliciously. What is he going to do with the world's longest escalator? And what is that thing in his hand? It's obvious that it is a "what is (trickster) up to?" joke because even when confronted, BHG acts coy and gives no straight answers. We are invited to try to figure out what he could possibly be doing with a chin up bar on an escalator? Who is his target? The man talking to him? Some as yet unintroduced character? Might we get more details as to why he needs a 70 meter escalator?

This is almost exactly the same sort of humor as Wile E. Coyote. the humor in that series derives not from the violence of his implements, but the suspence of "how will his plan fail?"

The coyote is known for failing
BHG is known for being a dick

Badum-tsh


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