// you’re reading...

filed in Myths and stereotypes

Decode, Please

Right now on The New Yorker’s Instagram account, this cartoon by Bob Eckstein has over 17,000 likes. At first glance, I didn’t understand the cartoon. And then, looking closer, I saw the cats. Tell me what you think it means.


9 comments for “Decode, Please”

  1. Petra says:

    Single people are weird. That’s what I get from this. You have a magician, a “crazy” cat lady, and a guy whose mother is by his sides–all cliches about singletons. That’s what this cartoon looks like to me, although perhaps there’s a more enlightened meaning that I am too dense to see. Never mind that married people can have a lot of pets (e.g. I know of a married couple who have 5 dogs) AND that having multiple pet is the sign of…a pet lover. Coincidentally, this same couple lives with one set of parents, who are constantly at the side of said couple. AND living with a parent or two is not a sign of any sort of arrested development–it could be due to finances, to a parent (or child) needing care, or just a genuine joy of the other’s company. I’m guessing that the magician dude is fully wrapped up in his unusual hobby. As though married people don’t have unusual hobbies. And as though unusual hobbies are a sign of some sort of social awkwardness. Frankly, having passions is to be lauded, whether one is married, single, or something in between.

    I’m saddened that this comes from The New Yorker, which is usually more enlightened than this (I might expect this from a publication on the caliber of People).

    I really hope I’m wrong about this interpretation and I would love to be corrected!

  2. Bob Eckstein says:

    Taking a WAYYY too literal an interpretation and humorless take. the intentions were not to assume that every cat-lover or hobbyists, etc. should be single. But I respect this group’s “reading” of the cartoon. Just came on to add, from the voice of the cartoonist, that you guys took it a pretty dark way.

  3. Amy says:

    I think it just rubbed us singletons the wrong way a little bit. It perpetuates the stereotype that single people are freaks. Well, we may be, but I guarantee you every single one of us is fighting every day to make something of our lives anyway.
    Plus, it’s just not funny, Bob.

    • wendy says:

      When people generalize about millennials, I often think, how can you generalize about a group of almost 80 million. And I feel the same about the population of singles. We’re a disparate group, and apart from our marital status, there really isn’t a common thread. Yet the stereotypes persist. That’s, in part, why I write this blog.

  4. Imogen says:

    Yeah, it’s pretty old fashioned and comes across quite mean spirited. I think whether or not it was intended to be mean, if single people think it’s mean, then it is.

    Being coupled is a privilege. It affords people social status and more resources. And it’s often something single people have no power to control.

    I wonder if the illustrator is single?

Leave a Reply