Column Critical Of 'Dilbert' Strip p.33

By: David Astor SOME PEOPLE HAVE criticized "Dilbert" for its art, but few have found fault with its writing.
Indeed, millions of fans believe the United Media strip's workplace satire is funny and insightful. As a result, "Dilbert" has become a phenomenon ? with numerous newspaper clients, an enormous Web presence, best-selling books, cover stories in major magazines, an upcoming TV show, and more.
"Media Beat" columnist Norman Solomon, in a recent piece, acknowledged the comic's huge popularity but questioned whether "Dilbert" deserves to be "a beloved icon of defiant satire and empathy for downtrodden office workers."
The Creators Syndicate columnist wrote that cartoonist Scott Adams' "support for those who toil in corporate cubicles is more superficial than real." He said Adams stated ? in a 1996 Newsweek article and in response to a recent Solomon e-mail query ? that downsizing can be positive because it may make the workplace more efficient.
"Now we know," wrote Solomon. "Pink slips are good because they allow people who don't get them to experience 'a huge decrease in bureaucracy.'"
Adams, when contacted by E&P, said, "Downsizing is good for stockholders and bad for the people who get downsized."
Solomon also wrote that "Dilbert" usually satirizes middle management rather than "the highest rungs of corporate ladders ? where CEOs and owners carry on . . . unseen, unscathed and unquestioned."
The columnist added that Business Week has reported that a number of CEOs are glad to have "Dilbert" around as an "escape valve" for frustrated workers.
Adams agreed that he does focus on middle management, and basically said that different people have different specialties when it comes to satire and other things.
Speaking more generally, Adams said "Dilbert" has reached a level of fame that makes some media people and others increasingly look for ways to criticize it.
He added that Solomon seems to imply that he (Adams) wants to be viewed as a champion of office workers.
"Actually," Adams laughed, "my only intention is for people to transfer their money to me."
Web Site: http://www.mediainfo. com.
copyright: Editor & Publisher - April 19, 1997


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