2010-06-23

Ostriches and TVs

Last spring, I was at a Mothers' Day barbecue back in St. Louis hosted by my future (well, more like current) in-laws.  One of my fiance's cousins is a 10 year old girl, and being that the party was at her house, I had the rare chance to see some of her artwork.  There were some paintings inspired by impressionists and done in specific styles (yeah, she's too smart for her own good) but it was a cartoon she had posted on the side of the refrigerator that I remember the most.

The image was a one-panel cartoon, untitled, depicting an ostrich with his head stuck underground.  In a cut-away view of the hole he had burrowed in the dirt sat a television set.  In response, the ostrich was giddy with surprise, and announced his good luck with an exclamatory speech bubble.  Now while he had his head buried in the sand, he could not only have the safety and comfort of being falsely hidden from the world, but also a chance to catch up on 'Everybody Loves Raymond' re-runs.

At first, it was lost even to me why I liked that cartoon so much.  It was the kind of spontaneous statement that arises from what to the artist is simply a funny twist added to a recognized visual gag.  Ostrich sticks head in sand.  The classic symbol of cowardice mixed with foolishness (if I can't see them then they can't see me logic).  Only now, our modern earth-bound bird is greeted with an incentive, a distraction, a way to pass that time spent hiding, a reward given from the goddess of communications tech.  Or is it a way to stay connected, if only remotely, during the unavoidable bouts of fear to which an ostrich will inevitably succumb from time to time?

So, the question is:  is the television a stroke of good fortune, or a curse?  Does it encourage the ostrich to stay in the hole by serving as a substitute for real life, or does it actually help quell the ostrich's terror by making his exile spent in the sand not so bad after all?

(Thank you Soph for inspiring this post.  Keep making your art!  I promise I'll buy your first painting.)

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