Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Visiting a club, Megan is exhorted by a phrase used in several songs, to "shake what your mama gave you", a crude euphemism typically used to encourage shaking one's body parts, referring to any of the sexually appealing anatomical parts of the dancer. Taking this exhortation extremely literally, Megan proceeds to locate a mug presumably given to her by her "mama" labeled "World's greatest daughter" and shakes it.
The phrase "shake what your mama gave ya" was in use as early as 1992, when it was the title of a song by Poison Clan, a southern hip-hop group that was influential from 1990–1995. Another version by Stik-E & Da Hoodz was released in 1995 by Phat Wax records. The line gained a wider audience when it was sampled by Fatboy Slim in the similarly titled "Ya Mama" on his 2000 album Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars. More recently the line was featured in the Lil Jon single "Stick That Thang Out". In fitting with the general thematic composition of such a song, a large part of which revolves around either goading a woman to, or describing one who is dancing seductively in a nightclub - this line asks a girl to dance, thereby swaying her hips & buttocks, or breasts, the most common male 'fetishes' - making them more conspicuous in the usually dim ambiance because of the phase lag with the rest of the body, which may be attributed to non-rigidity of the elastic structures - for purposes of her male audience's gratification (whether it be solicited or voyeuristic).
The title text refers to another lyrical cliche, "work it", which typically refers to "working" one's body; again, generally seductively. The action may be considered work either from the point of mechanical work, or as a reference to a professional dancer. This naturally leads Megan to further confusion (as indicated by the title text) when taken literally, as she responds "it's already working!" It is not entirely clear if she is again referring to the mug, or simply another generic object not displayed in the comic.
- [Megan stands in a disco, surrounded by dancing figures. She looks confused.]
- PA system: Shake what your mama gave you
- Megan: ???
- [Megan walks out of the club door.]
- [We see a mug on a table, labelled "World's Greatest Daughter".]
- [Megan shakes the mug.]
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Worst xkcd Ever! 220.127.116.11 08:31, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Hey, it's not the worst xkcd ever. What about the early xkcd strips, where most of them were just sketches or drawings? GameZone (talk) 08:37, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Surely "Worst. xkcd. Ever!" No? Turning to the explanation, I like the phase lag explanation. Never thought of sexual exhibitionism in those terms before.--18.104.22.168 08:46, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
- The explanation is definitely pushing this strip up. -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:30, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Hugely impressed by the explanation. I would never have thought you could write so much about such a dry comic. --Mynotoar (talk) 09:34, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
This explanation makes me so happy. Make an account, anonymous user at IP 22.214.171.124 and come collect your praise for such a great explanation! --Jeff (talk) 15:27, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps the XKCD website was hacked? 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Truly stunning explanation. Come and collect your internets. 188.8.131.52 20:49, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Haha, PHASE LAG cracked me up. Props for the explanation; I didn't understand the comic at all. 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- +++1 for the whole *phase lag* line! 220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
To the nay-sayers: "[XKCD is] A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." Quit with the downers, man, and get with the groove!
(Also, it'd probably be a general rule that, paid-for bodysculpting aside, a girls breasts and/or buttocks have a good chance of being like those of her mother. Thus she 'gives you'(/her) that big butt (not a universally desirable feature amongst womankind) or set of boobies that the DJ/MC/whoever is probably after encouraging the physical highlighting of. But that's a boring (and only half right) detail about the explanation. All praise to the current version, and don't add any more to it on my account.) 18.104.22.168 19:17, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Interpreting a "yo mama" line literally was also done in 502: Dark Flow; that connection may give this one similar poignance... 22.214.171.124 19:24, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Female breast endowment genes don't express in men. Therefore, although a woman's breast size will about equally correlate (on average) with her maternal grandmother as with her paternal grandmother, it is most definitely more correlated with her mother's bust size than her father's. I'm trying to find a way to add that to the explanation too, but can't find the right pithy phrasing. Djbrasier (talk) 20:20, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
This is now my favorite description --126.96.36.199 21:04, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Moved out of main explanation, and here, since it is tangential:
While the line is used in a male-watching-female context, there is nothing to preclude the reverse, or indeed any alternative sexual orientation and fetishes. It is, however, an applicable one if he/she considers his/her body as something given to her by her mother. This is not entirely spurious a consideration either. Aside from the fact that each human child starts off as an egg in the mother's body, with only a small percentage (at an atomic mass accounting level) of mass inherited from the father, almost all the anabolic material responsible for conferring the birth mass of a baby is obtained through the mother - and from the nutrients she processes. Additionally, female breast size genes don't generally affect bust size in men. Therefore, although a woman's breast size will about equally correlate (on average) with her maternal grandmother as with her paternal grandmother, it is most definitely more correlated with her mother's bust size than her father's. 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
小撸怡情，大撸伤身，强撸灰飛煙滅 -- GorgeousY (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- It's Chinese, Google translate shows this: "Small line and cheer, great line and beverages, strong line and ashes". This site is English so we don't need different languages without an explain. This here is just spam! --Dgbrt (talk) 19:14, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
- Google translate is horribly imperfect. He seems to be repeating an often made and coherent comment on character. We have little right to censor his speech, although we really should provide appropriate channels for foreign-language visitors. I'll look into that. Davidy²²[talk] 19:42, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
- You are correct, Google translate is horrible. It just gives a first hint what the meaning could be. In my opinion this is still spam. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:25, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
- Spam is when a deliberate effort is made to deface the page by putting up gibberish. He's quoting a relevant Chinese semi-meme, that's not spam. We're just not providing him an appropriate outlet for his post. SlashMe wasn't spamming your talk page when he posted in German there, even if the majority of users don't know what you two said, me included. The solution would be alternate language support, not censorship. Davidy²²[talk] 23:33, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
- The line could possibly mean "masturbate rarely and enjoy, masturbate often and hurt your body, masturbate strongly (too often?) and turn into ashes". 184.108.40.206 06:01, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Where did the PHASE LAG went? :-( It was the best part of the explanation... 220.127.116.11 14:52, 6 September 2014 (UTC) tralala