A newspaper cartoonist I once admired, Scott Adams, is having his strip Dilbert ceased from publication across several major newspapers. He went on a tirade about race on his YouTube series. He said black people are a hate group, white people should stay away from them, among other things.
This is not his first controversial antic, but it’s one that’s capturing the attention of the press. He’d said Donald Trump was a genius in the 2016 presidential election, nonetheless said he would vote for Hillary Clinton because she terrified him. He’d said he identified as black, though I can’t recall why. Did he want to reap the benefits of affirmative action? Was it a solidarity decision or some form of mockery? For whatever reason, there had been no zeitgeist to punish him. Maybe because he could emerge from those periods of lucidity and later speak calmly about his love of cartoons and storytelling.
I like the Dilbert comic a lot. I insist it still has been funny well past the 1990s. Thus, I was offended by The Plain Dealer‘s statement in their discontinuance of the strip that it was “not a difficult decision.” Adams has been a broken man for some time, and now he drew the line? The comic, clearly, has brought a lot of joy to my life. I’ve been reading it on my own since 2002, and likely before that when my mother or father would read it aloud for me. I didn’t always understand the corporate speak, but I liked the office setting. I liked Dilbert’s silly design, with the cloud-like hair and curved upright necktie. I liked how his dog and cat would not only outsmart him, but his entire workforce. I enjoyed the quirkiness, the Pointy-Haired Boss’s ineptitude, Wally’s mediocracy, Asok’s effort, Alice’s temper, etc.
I also liked how these characters basically worked with my mother, as the office was based on Adams’ time at telecom company Bell Pacific, the former sister to her company Bell Atlantic. Even folks who weren’t exactly in the same industry but worked in an office setting found a lot of similarities in the strange hierarchy and idiosyncrasies that come with white-collar work. The funnies pages garnered my interest in the newspaper and really aided in alleviating my reading anxiety that persisted in my formative years.
I don’t know if Adams would ever admit it, but I think his bigotry is sick. And I mean sick as in a real mental and physiological deficit, an impairment. I do mean it’s sick in a sinful way too, but beyond that. When I’ve read his blogs and interviews, his narrative oscillates between sanity and insanity. Apparently, he and his wife divorced in 2014, and some suspect he could still be upset and bitter about it. He also had a stepson who committed suicide and Adams may have driven him to such. Maybe he feels guilty about it and is trying to inflict cruelty on others so he comparatively didn’t seem so cruel to his late son? I apologize for not sourcing anything here. I suppose I am just awash with the new info that I’m still ruminating in it. Going back and looking at a biography or human interest profile of him will just give me too many variables to analyze him. Anyway, it’s hard to say definitely without meeting Adams. I could run through more primary sources. Look at his blogs and interviews, sift through them, find some morality that I’m sure I’d seen before in him, but I won’t do that now.
Defending him can get tiring, and he may argue he doesn’t need the pity, or at least not that kind of pity. I worry he does not want to pity his mania, but instead his cancellations. Apparently he has already opined in this way on his Twitter. He seems to stand by his derogatory comments, but is dismal that his livelihood can never recover. And sure, at the rate he’s going, if he refuses reconciliation, it cannot.
However, I still hope he has people in his life who can love him enough and tell him not to take interviews with Fox News, OAN, Breitbart, etc. They will enrage him further only make him feel more victimized. And he is a victim, alright…of their partisan brainwashing. I hope someone can convince Adams to seek therapy or spirituality.
I hope while the papers stop publishing Dilbert, he genuinely reflects on why it happened. I hope he realizes the breadth of people who enjoy his comic (including black people) and see that antagonizing them and alienating them is hurtful.
Almost a decade ago, actress Amanda Bynes would act similarly on her Twitter account. She would get cocky, sexually harass men (especially black men, like Drake or Kid Cudi), disparage ugly people, dress provocatively, threaten to release diss tracks, etc. Fortunately, people like her parents caught on, and had her formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, granted a conservatorship on her, of which she was released this year, and she enrolled and graduated in fashion college. She later became aware of her mania and spoke frankly about it on social media and interviews. She apologized for calling her father abusive and her friend Wayne ugly. She had retired, then unretired from acting. She hasn’t returned since leaving retirement, but her lawyer says she may one day. She overall seems to be recovering sufficiently since her downfall.
I hope Adams can make a recovery. But the difference is, Bynes was 26 during her downfall. Adams is 65. Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks, but who knows. Like Bynes initially, Adams is standing by his misdeeds and insisting he is not in need of pathological help, but that can’t always endure. People can see through it in due time. Scott Adams deserves the accountability here, but I really hope he does not make his situation worse for himself.