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June 18, 2002

The Decline of Doonesbury

Reason magazine has a very interesting autopsy of the decline of the Doonesbury strip. As a big fan of Gerry Trudeau-- I think much of my early political understanding of the 1970s came from reading him -- I share the writer's sadness at the encroaching smugness and self-referentiality of the Doonesbury characters. It's still funny, but as the writer notes in contrasting it with the much more provocative Boondocks (which is more like earlier Trudeau), recent strips have lost their bite.
...Nothing highlights the smug baby-boomer attitude of Trudeau than the switch from funny, politically astute college students of his original characters to the clueless, stereotypically hip ones of today. He seems to studiously avoid engaging the serious political organizing and attitudes of the large number of students engaged in labor struggles, global justice organizing, immigrant rights and other work Trudeau should respect.
...His best strips of recent years have been his sending up of the tech industry and baby boomer materialism. Maybe that is Trudeau's destiny-- to be the premiere chronicler of the descent of the boomers from idealism to materialist hustlers. But you can't help longing for him to regain the edge that once made him indispensable.

Posted by Nathan at June 18, 2002 02:06 PM


There is the problem that Trudeau was a college student when his main characters were college students, and he isn't one anymore.

Posted by: David Margolies at June 22, 2002 01:33 AM

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