In February I linked to a R-rated claim about Marmaduke (but I didn't agree with that opinion).
It turns out there is a blog dedicated to the comic strip, with a different perspective. I have only read about 6 of its entries but it seems clueless to me, as well.
As quaint as it is, the big comic dog has a specific unconscious purpose. This emotional function is indirectly political.
To start with, the comic strip concerns the upper-middle-class. Even the juvenile blog implies this, by calling the woman 'Owner-Lady'. The Owner-Man's slippers are another clue.
Do these people want to learn from their pet, or even play with it? ..No, they do not. Why not? Maybe they are just too busy, or maybe they are otherwise fulfilled.
But I do not think so. I think that in the backs of their minds they must somehow grasp a deep truth in the silent animal and want to avoid it, avoid being changed by an interaction. Luckily for them, Marmaduke is to blame for the relationship failure:
See how Marmaduke almost drools in the soup! See how he wrecks Christmas fantasies! See how he won't fetch the stick until he wants to!
I think the strip's fans share the attitudes of the dog's owners. They too want to not become wiser, and Marmaduke's daily mini-degradations are a kind of propaganda to this effect. For fans, the strip is a (fun) defensive fortification along the long line in their war against their own enlightenment.
About this, Joe M. writes
Marmaduke is trying to decorate his owner-family's Christmas tree with a bunch of his dog bullshit. Owner-Lady declines his "help" with as much diplomacy as she can muster.
As ridiculous as it might seem, I believe a metaphor is embedded in the cartoon:
I believe the cartoonist unconsciously meant it is best if only the upper-middle-class contribute to civilization (maybe even that the lesser beings they own should not).
From his hostility it is clear Joe does not agree (or perhaps his anger is because he unconsciously does agree!). Certainly Joe just wants to feel good. Nothing wrong with that.
Perhaps this is too strong. My point is, the 'tree' needs more 'ornaments' - our society needs more contributions from more people.
In other words, Peace and Love. Am I allowed to post thought around Christmastime?
I find fictional dogs often are substitutes for Buddha and I know enlightenment is not class-war. I mean, imagine if the caption had been 'OK, Marmaduke, well hang your stick and then you and I can watch some TV together'. Wouldn't that have been better?
updated 2007-01-01, then again on 2007-01-04