Updated on May 16, 2023
As you’ve likely heard by now, Scott Adams, the creator of the newspaper comic “Dilbert,” has made news for all the wrong reasons. Recently, Adams mentioned on his YouTube video channel (which I’m not linking to) a survey claiming a percentage of Black Americans disagree with the statement “it’s OK to be white.” To quote NPR:
The controversy over the statement may be explained in part by the fact that it originated as part of an online trolling campaign by the alt-right and was subsequently embraced by white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League. But Adams suggested it proves that Black Americans hate Whites.
“If nearly half of all Blacks are not okay with White people … that’s a hate group,” Adams said. “I don’t want to have anything to do with them. And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to White people is to get the hell away from Black people … because there is no fixing this.”
Yes, the line “it’s OK to be white” is just a racist dog whistle. The fact it originated from 4chan (a site popular with racist trolls) is exactly zero surprise.
It didn’t take long for newspapers to start dropping “Dilbert,” ranging from the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Los Angeles Times. On top of all this came more surprising news on Monday: Andrews McMeel Universal, a major newspaper comic syndicate (and the people behind GoComics.com), has immediately dropped “Dilbert.” Checking GoComics, the strip’s definitely gone from its site. As for “Dilbert”-related merchandising, that’s apparently also dead: Penguin Random House has canceled publishing Adams’ next book.
While Adams apparently plans to keep running “Dilbert’” on his own site, all of this pretty much kills the strip as a mainstream concern. Not that it has to have mainstream appeal, I suppose, as long as it caters to Adams’ fanbase. (Adams has almost 900,000 Twitter followers.)
Adding to the above, Elon Musk has chimed in in support of Adams (because of course Musk does). Musk claims the media is “racist against whites and Asians.” Once again, I don’t have any regrets about no longer using Twitter.
The death of “Dilbert”
“Dilbert” was a strip I used to enjoy back in the 90s and 00s; I even bought a few of the desk calendars. Its take on office humor was seen at the time as fresh, compared to old-school comics’ “you’re fired!” bad boss takes (such as “Blondie”).
Still, I stopped reading the strip years ago. Learning more and more about Adams’ behavior didn’t exactly persuade me to pick up the strip again. “Dilbert”’s office humor also started to grow stale and dated. (Not that being stale or dated is exactly a death blow for newspaper comics.) Glancing at a few recent strips suggests the only update to reflect current office trends is giving the employees lanyards instead of neckties.
While I expected newspapers to drop his strip, I’m surprised (but still pleased) the syndicate actually canceled “Dilbert” outright. Adams’ behavior has been noted by others for years, yet hasn’t affected him or his strip until now. Among other things, he blames UPN’s focus on Black audiences as why his “Dilbert” animated series was canceled in the 90s. (The idea that “Moesha” was a more popular show than “Dilbert” wasn’t an option, apparently.) Looking over my blog, I had a few posts directly related to “Dilbert” (mostly for my former “minorities in cartoons” series of posts, ironically), but deleted them after a previous incident involving Adams.
None of this will render Adams destitute, of course. He’s made millions from “Dilbert,” and is 65 years old; he can easily retire right now, and spend the rest of his life making nothing but racist YouTube videos. Speaking of which, shouldn’t Adams’ YouTube comments violate YouTube’s terms of service?
Alternatives to “Dilbert”
As for tech humor comics, there are a few comic strips covering said category, such as “Joy of Tech” and “xkcd.” Unfortunately, I can’t think of any good comic strips covering office humor that are currently running. If you have any favorite comics that feature or focus on office work to recommend, please list them in the comments below.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay