Comic Book: Whatever Love Means
Reporter: Are you in love?
Prince Charles: Yes...
: Whatever "love" means.
The entire dialog of the first page of the album Prince Charles Känsla
"Whatever Love Means" is the name of a theatrical play based on the graphic novels by Swedish cartoonist Liv Strömquist, as well as the collective name for these comics. Whatever Love Means
is the exact title, in spite of the play itself being in Swedish. The albums are called:
- Hundra procent fett. The name is a wordplay, and can be read as "100% fat", "100% cool" or "100% right".
- Einsteins Fru, 2008. "Einstein's Wife". The title refers to Albert Einstein's first wife, who helped develop the theory of relativity but never got any credit for it.
- Prins Charles Känsla, 2010. "The Feeling Prince Charles Had". This title, as well as the title of the play, refers to an interview with Prince Charles and Princess Diana. See page quote.
- Ja Till Liv!, 2011. "Yes to Liv!". The title is only two letters short of "Ja till Livet", which means "Yes to life" and is the name of Sweden's only big anti-abortion organization. A deeply conservative organization dominated by a church named "Livets Ord" - "The Word Of Life", concidered by mainstream society to be a dangerous cult.
The comic/play specializes in social and political satire, mostly focused on relations between races, genders and sexual orientations. The albums are not separate stories but rather collections of related short stories.
Has examples of
- Activist Fundamentalist Antics: Activists are sometimes portrayed either as being this or as being unjustly perceived as this. It zigsags a lot.
- Aggressive Categorism: The rant about Jihad Jane plays this on two levels. First, Liv accuse mainstream society of doing this to arabs and muslims, assuming that they are all terrorits in spite of knowing that they are not. Second, she focus on the fact that Jihad Jane was blond, female, middle aged and dressed in a certain style common among western women. Having established that, she move on to portray a scenario where all western women with this style are treated as if they were terrorists.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Liv often mention minor and huge things in the same breath, as being the same and equal accusation. For example, one of the lines in the chapter on Violence (in "Ja till Liv!"), is about riding the tram without a ticket and ritually murdering a famous soccer player.
- Author Avatar: Liv pop up quite frequently in her own comic. Not as a regular character, but as the self-insertion version popping up out of nowhere. Her function is usually either to say something sractastic to one of the regular characters or to hold an...
- Author Filibuster: These are either held by the Author Avatar or simply interrupt the comic with a block of text. However, these speeches tend to prioritize irony and sarcasm over ideological consistency, so it is likely that the filibustering isn't always her actual opinions. She officially reserve the right to be unreasonable.
- Category Traitor: The comic rant quite a bit about how men are expected & indoctrinated to be loyal to men in general, at the expense of women.
- Condescending Compassion: In one strip of The Feeling Prince Charles Had, a heterosexual character talks to a homosexual and holds a little well-meaning rant about how he thinks it's okay to be gay, ending with wondering when we will ever get rid of homophobia and start treating homosexuals as equals. The reply: "Maybe when you no longer feel you need to give me permission".
- Crapsack Only by Comparison: Inverted - Western civilization is prortrayed as being non-crapsack only by comparison. See "No Womans Land" below.
- Destructive Romance: Love itself is portrayed as a destructive force that is bound to break people down emotionally.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Portrayed as deeply integrated in western culture.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Many male characters are portrayed as various shades of misogynists.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Her clients get nothing but scorn, however. (The idea that all prostitutes are victims and that all johns are abusers is a rather common idea in Sweden, and the law thus says that it's illegal to buy sex but not to sell.)
- Internalized Categorism: Much of these comics are about women learning to hate themselves for being the gender that society consider less valuable.
- Lady Land: Averted with the notion that a woman can be just as patriarchal as a man, and that a person can be a Jerkass in other ways as well.
- Lampshade Hanging: Some raging overgeneralizations (used for Rant Comedy value) are pointed out as such. For example, her rant about nerds include claims that are flat-out wrong. Suddenly she say that she know this, and list a number of good reasons for why she's wrong... ending the list with "blah, blah, wake me up when you finished explaining".
- Love Makes You Evil: Or a victim. Or both.
- Noble Bigot: Deconstructed into rants about how they're actually not noble at all.
- No Woman's Land: Western civilization is sometimes portrayed as this. The rest of the contemporary world is not portrayed as better, the attitude is more of "lets clear up our own very real mess instead of boasting about being better then Saudi Arabia".
- Property of Love: Deconstructed to the Up to Eleven level where it's not even funny anymore. Strömquist claims that love, in itself, is about property/possessiveness. And thus love, in itself, is a BAD thing.
- Questionable Consent: How free is choice, really?
- Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Many male characters are portrayed as having this mindset, especially in regards to prostitution.
- Sour Prudes: Liv portray this mindset as an effect of patriarchal repression: Everyone want to have some control, and having been denied any other way to power a woman's only remaining option is trying to control her own sexuality and the sexuality of others. Also, women who are not sexually repressed becomes a very real threat when your sexuality is the only thing you have to bargain with: Like any other market, it's a matter of supply and demand, and minimizing supply is their only way of increasing her market value.
- Straw Feminist: The author call herself one in one of the strips. Not surprising, since irony is one of the main pillars of this work. See Lampshade Hanging above.
- Thigh-High Boots: Liv plays this trope for dark comedy, joking about how some filmmakers seem to be obsessed with having prostitutes wear such boots, incorrectly believing themselves to be radical when they put screentime focus on the boots.
- Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Played for laughs, with academics and Christians portrayed as marginalized subcultures that people know nothing about and consider scary (in the same ways as immigrants and muslims are sometimes regarded in real life Sweden).