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We Asked Readers to Explain the Strib’s Baffling ‘Griddy Time’ Cartoon. Here’s the Winning Entry.

Decoding Mike Thompson's most perplexing work yet.

It has been a turbulent start for new Star Tribune political cartoonist Mike Thompson. His first piece, which attempted to thread an ill-advised needle by making simultaneous points about Muslim prayer and urban violence while being funny, landed with a resounding thud. The left found it offensive; the right viewed it as a Minneapolis-is-burning rallying cry; and, crucially, almost nobody laughed.

To quote Racket's Keith Harris: "To put the most charitable spin on the piece, it’s muddled hackwork working off the dumbest assumptions about city life." To quote new Strib publisher Steve Grove, responding Wednesday to criticism from four Muslim lawmakers: "I'm sorry that the Star Tribune published it."

But all that's in the past now. Yesterday, Thompson issued a cartoon that didn't ruffle any feathers, though it did elicit a whole lot of head scratching. The top-voted reactions from Strib commenters include "I don't get it" and "Does anyone understand this?"

Judge for yourself:

The single-panel strip features a bride who's seemingly so elated by news of ex-Packers QB Aaron Rodgers being traded to the Jets, that she breaks into the popular "Griddy" dance during her own wedding. It's unclear how she heard about the trade while walking down the aisle that Tuesday afternoon, and her jubilance isn't exactly mirrored by a Vikes fanbase that saw Rodgers struggle mightily last season. Why is the (apparent) groom so age-inappropriate? Why does the chapel look like the inside of a mausoleum? Why are there only five guests, and why are they so mortified?

Does the strip represent an absurdist, avant-garde turn for Thompson, a la the mind-bending Dadaist ethos of modern-day Heathcliff? Or is it half-baked midweek argle bargle?

Ever the peanut-gallery opportunists, Racket sprang into action with a reader contest that promised fabulous prizes for the best explanation—silly, serious, or somewhere in between—of the "Griddy Time" cartoon. And we got some great responses, both in our inbox and on Twitter.

But we had to pick one champ from the bunch. Writing under the pen name Joe Town, our big winner forwent his Wednesday work duties to pen an 800-word exploration of Thompson's baffling attempt at topical humor. His T-shirt and koozies are in the mail.


'I Knew Minnesotans Are Excited': A Brief Critical Analysis of Expository Characterization in a Mike Thompson Editorial Cartoon

By Joe Town

According to Merriam-Webster, griddy is "The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary." This underscores the key themes present in "Griddy Time," a cartoon by Mike Thompson published in the Star Tribune, which this analysis explores via its central characters.

Let us first examine the groom, an older man who reeks of older money. 

He’s certainly a snobby gentleman, isn’t he, with his inhumanly stiff posture and perpetually crusty grimace. A guy like this? I’ll bet that’s the same tux he wore to his previous wedding, or two, and he has some regrets. Judging by the way the medieval-old-man-baby of a flower girl is looking at the bride, we must assume she is the groom’s daughter from a previous relationship. In a way, maybe it’s best her dad is having a quickie wedding this time so he’ll still have money left over for her therapy bills, and perhaps a better hairstylist.

Our priest, for his part, simply cannot be fucked and is also high off his gourd—on Jesus, presumably—which is causing him to float one saintly inch off the ground as he spouts out-of-stater gibberish. He's fumbling that punchline worse than the Vikings did during the 4th quarter of their season-ender to the Giants. (In that particular sentence, in case Mike Thompson is reading and feels confused, "the Vikings" refers not to the historical Scandinavian seafarers but instead to a football team that exists a few states over, in Minnesota.) Also, what in the world are those church windows made out of? Rocks? Jeez.

The visual cues here imply we’re at a Catholic function, but in fact, only one member of the couple was raised Catholic: the bride. We know this for several reasons. First, you’re gonna look at the groom’s WASPy Buckingham Palace-ass face and tell me that fuckin’ guy is down with the Holy Spirit? Second, the attendees give away the whole game. Consider:

As we have established, it’s his third wedding but certainly her first, and her Irish-Catholic family is not thrilled about the age gap nor the angling Anglican in the room. The bride’s father is there, of course; his hard-won compromise with her mother—who’s at home praying the rosary, thank you very much—is that he may attend but not walk her down the aisle. Sad. Behind him are two sisters, perhaps his own, who are only there out of pity. All three of them, facial expressions simply oozing with Catholic guilt. Not Cousin Julie in back, though—that’s just how she always looks. 

The cartoon’s primary antagonist, and certainly its most psychologically perplexing character, is the bride. Following Mike Thompson's lead, we'll begin here by establishing her character through the judgment of others. If you were to ask the groom’s mother, on the right—who, as his only family member to bother to show up this matrimonial go-round, directs all her self-righteous horror at the gorgeous young woman—she’d tell you the bride’s dress is far too short to be respectable. And is that a Marilyn Monroe-esque cone bra? She’s only got about 15 followers, but this look will make excellent content for her tradwife Facebook page, Let’s Bring Back ‘50s Glam Values, the bride's new mother-in-law will snipe to her friends over cards this week.

Our bride and her husband-to-be don’t communicate very much, unfortunately. He has his own affairs to handle; you may interpret that however you wish, as only Mike Thompson knows the truth. You see, his CEO duties—just to make up a name out of thin air, let's call our executive groom Wygi Zilf—are second to his real pride, his ownership of a local football team. He spends much of his days working in the team’s offices, where his primary duties involve complaining about how Minneapolis just isn’t safe anymore now that it’s gone woke.

And his bride, poor gal, just wants him to like her, to truly see her. She’s not Vickie Lynn Hogan anymore; she’s Anna Nicole Smith, goddammit, and stop saying she’s getting married for money! She worked hard to get here and has complex emotions and a largely painful personal life! 

If only there were a way to show her husband she cares about his life and understands his football-centric professional world; to communicate her celebratory emotions in a way an old white man could comprehend… then maybe he’ll reciprocate. 

Then things will get better. 


This, I submit to you, is the tragic tableau Mikey Tomp is actually presenting to us, and it’s truly a shame that his clinical case of what’s known in the DSM as Soucheray-Tice Syndrome prevents him from understanding his own rich text. It’s not about Aaron Rodgers, you moron, the bride wants to scream; due to the most powerful men in the room—the bishop, the groom, the illustrator—she has no mouth.

Works Cited

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