The New York Times’ Arts Beat blog published a solid roundup of last week’s hilarious Wes-related Doonesbury comic strip, which you should obviously scroll through if you missed it the first time. The cartoons explicitly satirize the administration’s 2008 decision to require that Westco change the name of its two annual music festivals, Zonker Harris Day and Duke Day—both named after Doonesbury characters, and both traditions for over thirty years. More history on this reemerging 2008 shit-storm controversy coming soon in a future post.
Secondly, a note to Arts Beat writer Dylan Loeb McClain: I realize your title, “Doonesbury Creator Makes Fun of Wesleyan, Which Likes It,” makes for a sharp, compelling headline, and a cute note on Wes’s characteristically self–deprecating culture. But don’t conflate Wes students with the administration on this one. We didn’t banish Doonesbury references from our halls, and we certainly weren‘t on board with the decision to do so. The university may claim to be “flattered to be satirized,” but I don’t see Doonesbury linked on the Wesleyan main page headlines.
Mr. Trudeau, a graduate of Yale (30 minutes down the highway from Wesleyan), wrote in an e-mail Thursday that he decided to take up the cause because he did not like the way the director of Wesleyan’s Office of Residential Life has recently characterized Duke and Zonker.
“The director of Res-Life called Zonker a ‘hippie-druggie,’ which, of course, he is, but what student holiday is named after a model citizen?” Mr. Trudeau wrote.
Mr. Trudeau also isn’t crazy about the new names, describing the replacement for Duke Day as “awful.” He wrote that Ze Who Must Not Be Named is not so bad, but added, “it doesn’t support my brand as directly as I’d like.”
A statement by the university said it was “flattered to be satirized” in Doonesbury.
Wouldn’t you think that they could just change the party’s name to “Michael Roth Stoner Fest”?
Larry Bush, cartoon historian in Florida, concurs with Trudeau’s critique:
The cartoon of December 4 reminds us of the absurdity of the Wesleyan policies. The festivals in question are named after cartoon characters. They cannot take drugs any more than one can get hurt by a punch from Popeye. It must be nice to be an administrator at a campus that has nothing worse goin on than festivals in honor of caricatures.
And, lastly, this impassioned gem from an Ohio professor:
As a retired professor whose children are already through school and in their 40+ years, I wouldn’t allow any of mine and I hope my grandchildren won’t have the word Wesleyan mentioned. After 30 yrs. a new generation of Puritans arises believing that changing the names of campus festivals will impress anyone. I hope they find themselves held in contempt for their smallness of mind and unworthiness as an institution of open thought.