After Cthulhu awakens and destroys civilization as we know it, humans are used as slaves and food by their new slimy, submerged masters. One such young man, Ricky, works at an undersea fast food joint where he’s forced to kill and cook other humans for the Deep Ones to eat. But he has a plan. His restaurant caters to the Big Man himself, and if Ricky’s plan works, he could pull off the unthinkable: He could actually Kill Cthulhu.
McHumans is probably my favourite of Kevin Strange’s work. It starts off reading like someone strained the Cthulhu mythos through Spongebob Squarepants, but then becomes a bizarro action romp which is great fun. I’m highlighting it here because it’s a great read and I highly recommend it, but it also serves as an excuse to segue into a rant I have about a certain cartoon show…
I grew up in the 80s. The cartoons I grew up with were little more than long adverts with twee moral lessons tagged on the end -these always accompanied by a terrible joke which the animated cast found inexplicably hysterical- but mainly they were about pushing “product” on impressionable minds. Buy the toys, the lunch box, the bed spread, and a metric ton of other poorly made shit with your hero’s inanely grinning faces plastered all over it. But you know what? I’ll take that form of brainwashing over the kind exhibited in Spongebob Squarepants. The show is basically indoctrinating an entire generation into accepting their lot as wage slaves.
Spongebob works in a fast food restaurant (representing the entirety of the service industry) and he is deliriously happy about it; every morning he gets up ready and eager to get to his dead-end job behind a grease trap, a position of which he is psychotically proud and devoted. His place of employment is the starting point for all kinds of hilarious hi-jinks and whacky adventures, a McWonderland of fun, gee kids bet you can’t wait to get out of boring school so that you can enter the workforce and start having a high old time? His boss, Mr Crabs, pays him bugger all, but that is constantly shown to be besides the point, because Spongebob loves his job so much (and he somehow not only manages to own his own house on this threadbare salary, but also feeds pet food to his pet rather than having to eat it himself or default on his electricity bill that month.)
Not convinced that this is all priming the target demographic for a life of drudgery with a BIG SHIT-EATING SMILE?
Next consider the character of Squidward, Spongebob’s neighbour and fellow burger-flipper, a character constantly shown to hate his job, resent his co-workers, and who dares to dream of something better, perhaps a life in the arts. He plays a musical instrument and paints, and is often shown to yearn for “fancy” things, such as food which hasn’t been deep fried, or even respect. What happens to Squidward? He is the butt of every joke, a figure of fun, ridiculed and subjected to slapstick violence… almost like he’s being punished for not getting with the program.
The message is neon bright. Love your life of slavery and never dream. Be a colourful, fun-loving, braindead Spongebob, not a dour, dismal, aspirational Squidward.
It’s not like children’s entertainment hasn’t been used before to condition and program developing minds, but Jesus H. Aslan, SUBTLETY MUCH?
(And yes, I am aware of the irony in me pointing out other’s lack of subtlety, what with the OTT nonsense I’ve published over the years.)
Give McHumans a whirl, it really is an absolute hoot.