Analysis: The Ugly Barnacle
The Ugly Barnacle is an exemplary tale.
The very first sentence displays the author's unwillingness to compromise the timelessness of his oeuvre
. The story's setting and rough time period are only referred to as "once". Where
is the ugly barnacle? When
does the barnacle kill everyone
Those questions are irrelevant - this is a story detailling the unneeded struggle of the unlucky in a society obsessed by an arbitrary beauty ideal. Attaching a specific time and place would simply dilute the message and weaken the reader's empathy toward the barnacle's plight.
"there was an ugly barnacle."
Thusly is our protagonist introduced.
is the ugly barnacle? What
is the ugly barnacle beyond this shallow description? How
is he ugly? All questions lesser minds would ask, completely missing the point of the tale.
Say what you want about Patrick Star, but he doesn't fuck around. Whereas so-called "talented" authors often bore the lectorat
with unneeded descriptive, Patrick sticks with the basics. The main character is a barnacle
. He is ugly
. For the purpose of the story, that is all you need to know. Anything beyond this point is space-wasting fluff.
The so-called "Beige" description also has the quality of bypassing the reader's suspension of disbelief. A more detailed description, no matter how abject, would cause one smartass to spout "That doesn't look that ugly !
" or "You're exaggerating dude". Simply labelling the barnacle as "ugly" causes the reader to apply his own standard of homeliness, skipping unneeded subjective concerns.
Unexpectedly, tragedy strikes!
The climax of the tale is a superb case of subverting the reader expectation. Usually, this kind of story will features the main character going on an adventure to "fix" his appearance and conform to the society ideal, or finally accepting his physique and reconfort himself in the saccharine ideal that appearance alone doesn't matter.
Not here. Not only did the barnacle did nothing to resolve his predicament, but said inaction causes his surrounding macrocosm to die
. The tale satirize both society's obsession with physical appearance (as the presumably shallow, straight-thinking citizens are conditioned
to be killed by violation of beauty standards) and the inaction of the homely, as the main character's unjustified lack of initiative causes negative and oh-so-very real consequences to himself and his surrounding.
Patrick Star walks triumphant and doesn't look back. There was a barnacle. It was ugly. Everyone died. Blam
Originally posted here by Glowsquid.