An Article Written by Somebody that Didn't Read How To Be Funny And Not Just Stupid: A Retrospective

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An Article Written by Somebody that Didn't Read How To Be Funny And Not Just Stupid[edit | edit source]

Taco Wiz 05:57, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm reviewing this one. Nobody edit conflict me. Tinymasaru.gifpillow talk 15:55, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Humour: 8.52 Well, as Shakespeare said: "Brevity is the soul of wit". Ironically, though, what Shakespeare actually said was "My liege, and madam, to expostulate What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time, Were nothing but to waste night, day and time. Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief: your noble son is mad." Which wasn't fucking brief at all. No brevity was harmed during the making of that speech. Polonious could have just said "Hamlet's crazy" and accomplished that in two fucking words. I give Shakespeare a 3/10 in Prose and Formatting, and a 4/10 for unintentional humor.

However, I'm actually reviewing your article, and not Hamlet. Your ten-word article. Incidentally, Hamlet is 32,241 words long, making it three thousand, two hundred twenty-four and one-tenth times longer than your article. And yet these ten words received an Hscore 8.52 points higher than that play. Pat yourself on the back.

Okay, so the reason this joke works is it's a classic case of triple-misdirection. First, I look at the title (which, at 16 words long, is 60% longer than the article itself), and I think, "Ugh. Another one of these. Everyone's written one of these. And they all tell the same fucking joke. So now I'll have to cruise over there and read the same joke and give it like a 3/10 and chastise the author for being stale and derivative."

That's the first misdirection. Strangely, here, the meta-misdirection comes before the literal misdirection--the idea that this is going to be a satire of inept writing. In a nutshell, that's exactly what noted postmodernist critic Ferdinand de Saussure was saying when he argued that simulacra of reality had replaced reality itself. Of course, Saussure's contemporaries, such as Jean Baudrillard, would later carry this idea of the simulacra to ridiculous lengths, claiming (infamously) that the supplanting of reality by simulacra had led to a situation where the first Gulf War did not, in fact, take place, despite our clear perception that it did.

No such claims are being made in this article, but nonetheless, it sums up the ideal of postmodern literary criticism as well as any long-winded essay by a Frenchman, since the humor relies not on misdirecting the reader to a page contrary to its title, but in fact misdirecting the reader to a page offering a completely valid take on its title: this would not even be humor if the expectation did not exist that the title stood for something other than its literal representation. The history of its representation on Uncyclopedia, therefore, becomes the simulacrum, and its literal meaning is relegated to the position of a secondary misdirection. Warhol would have been proud: the art, as it were, of this piece, exists entirely in the frame. Actually, I think it was Frank Zappa, not Warhol, who said that, but undeniably, this piece is more Warhol-esque than Zappa-like.

The third misdirection, of course, lies in exactly what the article is: a 21KB .PNG file consisting of entirely lowercase lettering in a sans serif font.

Thus, to sum up and repeat my aforementioned points, the three levels on which this article exists are (in this specific order) the expectation of what an article of this title is going to consist of; the literal meaning of the title of the article; and the article itself.

Concept: 8.43 The humor of this article is contained almost entirely within the concept of this article, so assigning disparate scores to humor and concept seems absurd. Why, then, have I done it?

The answer is that the execution of the article adds very slightly to the humor found in the concept, earning the Hscore exactly 0.09 points more than the Cscore. Don't think of this as being marked down on the Cscore; think of it as being marked up on the Hscore.

One might ask the question: what is contained within the execution that is not contained within the concept? And the answers are twofold.

First, the article contains a large font, reminiscent of a LOLcat caption. In a sense, this is the subtle introduction of an internet meme into an article which could never hold claim to repeating an Internet meme. There are no references to Chuck Norris, CATS, or WHARRGARBL, and, in fact, it could be seen as an anti-meme: to the extent that HTBFANJS has established itself as a meme, this article is a celebration of a refusal to propagate said meme.

And yet, ironically, its execution is extremely memelike; not only is it encoded in a format (PNG) that only the kind of nerd who participated in such activities would recognize as being more efficient in this situation than GIF or JPG, but, as stated above, it resembles the captioning routinely found in other memes. One might as well see "Fuck Yeah Seaking" in this large, stark, sans serif font; thus, presenting a refusal to present the expected stock joke in the font expected of the expected stock joke is certainly ironic. One could almost consider this a fourth level of misdirection on the part of the piece.

The second piece of execution not contained within the concept is the comment on the image's image page. Here, the author has written "This is for an article" - which succeeds because it is both literally true, obvious, and completely false at the same time. It is true in that the PNG is included in an article. It is obvious in that nearly all images (not to mention other types of files) uploaded to Uncyclopedia are for an article, unless one holds such a strict construction of "article" that they exclude userspace, forms, &c. However, it is completely false in that the PNG clearly is the article, and thus, to say that it is for an article is a subtle and cutting understatement.

Prose and formatting: 10 It goes without saying that the entire article is completely grammatical. It's constructed in the present perfect tense rather than the present tense: it asks the question "Why would you" rather than "Why do you". The tense itself is another very subtle joke; as the reader has clicked on the title of the article, it is implicit that the reader does want to read the article described by the title.

However, the article doesn't question the reader's communicated intention. Rather, it withholds judgment on whether the reader made any intention at all by modulating into perfect tense. In a way, this could be seen as charitable; it doesn't necessarily imply that the reader wants to read such an article. On the other hand, the charity inherent in the perfect tense is almost a backhand compliment; the reader is likely to infer from the tense that his reason for wanting to read such an article is absolutely incomprehensible to the author.

It's the details of the grammatical structure of the prose, then, that set up this dynamic interaction between author, audience, and text. This makes this piece particularly poorly suited to the New Criticism schools of thought of the 1920s through the 1960s; considering the text as the "soul" of the writing ignores the fact that the entirely communicated comedy here lies in the interplay between the three points of this triangle: without author intention and two separate and conflicting discernments of reader intention, the text would lose its effectiveness entirely. This is a joke about expectation, and expectation cannot be contained in the object of that expectation; any attempt to do so would be like questioning the validity of an action figure as a Christmas present without ever considering the reaction of the child upon unwrapping it.

It would be, frankly, the height of absurdity. In conclusion: Fuck New Criticism. Also, the prose of this article is good.

In terms of formatting, I tend to agree that 500px is the ideal size for this PNG. The minimum resolution one can expect this page to be read at is 600x800, and 500 fits nicely within those parameters, leaving room for scroll bars, etc.

Images: 7.88 The Iscore category raises an interesting question: does this article contain nothing but images, or does it contain no images whatsoever? On one hand, literally, the article is an image, despite the image's comment box protesting to the contrary. However, an image is simply a form of encoding information, and when that information is textual, is the file still an image?

It's similar to the question: if one was to record the position of every pixel in a picture ("x axis 3, y axis 5, color 15") and encode that recording into an MP3, what would the the result? A song? A dramatic reading? Or a picture? Is an audible representation of an image, if it contains exactly the same data, any less an image than the visual representation thereof?

The ambiguity of whether the article contains any images is in fact a strength of the article. Thus, this article receives a 9.12 for images if it does contain images, and a 6.64 if it does not. The average of these scores is 7.88.

Miscellaneous: 8.7075 Average of the previous scores.
Final Score: 43.5375 Outstanding work! You've created one of the great postmodern artworks of our generation. One day, historians will note this page as part of a rising trend in Western literature. However, if you nominate it for VFH, I will vote against it.
Reviewer: Tinymasaru.gifpillow talk 16:38, 21 August 2008 (UTC)