752: Phobia

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Oh God, the tornado picked up snakes!
Title text: Oh God, the tornado picked up snakes!


This comic seems to be about phobias, i.e. being afraid of specific and non-specific things like Blondie's fear of snakes.

Prompted by Blondie's admission, Megan becomes philosophical (as she often does) and reveals an unusual phobia of her own: outrightly rejecting something until next year by making the excuse that everything is complicated right now up to the point where there is no next year left anymore because the opportunity has passed or she died. This may be applied to a romantic relationship (possibly with Blondie) but is equally applicable to any (big) decision, like migrating to another country, changing the job or, as in this case, fulfilling one's dreams.

After Megan has said this, Blondie thinks for some time (in the beat panel). When she finally decides to ask Megan something (perhaps to go out on a date), Megan cuts her off to say that she wants to be a storm chaser.

In the last panel we see that both, Megan and Blondie, have become storm chasers — individuals who pursue severe weather conditions, for either scientific investigation or providing media coverage, or simply for adventure. Ironically, chasing adverse weather, especially tornadoes, is more dangerous than the source of either character's original phobia. Indeed, one's ability to control the risk while being near a tornado is far less than one's ability to control the risk of being bitten by a snake; the tornado is violent and unpredictable, while snakes only attack humans when they feel threatened. Additionally, one needs to deliberately expose oneself to the snake in order to have any risk of being attacked.

This comic is related to the movies Snakes on a plane (snakes), Twister (tornadoes and storm chasers), and Thelma & Louise. The last of these movies has two women friends on a road trip, and in the end they kiss, and there have been several discussions on whether one or both of them are lesbian or not. Snakes on a plane was previously mentionned in 107: Snakes on a Plane! 2

In the title text, Megan and Blondie notice that the snakes have been picked up by the tornado they are chasing; so now, in addition to the violent weather, they are also exposed to the danger of snakes falling from the sky. (This is similar to the plot of Sharknado, although that movie was released several years after this comic.)

This is the third comic about tornadoes and storm chasers, a recurring subject on xkcd. These were first mentioned in 402: 1,000 Miles North, and first shown in 640: Tornado Hunter.


[Blondie, with extra long hair and Megan in the background of the image observes a long snake on the ground in the foreground.]
Blondie: Whoa, a snake!
Megan: Cool!
Blondie: I'm afraid of snakes.
[Zoom in only on Megan's upper half.]
Megan: I'm afraid of saying "everything's complicated right now, but maybe next year" until there are no more years left.
[Slim panel with a zoom to a full picture of only Blondie as she considers this. Beat panel.]
[Same type of image of Megan, who cuts Blondie's reply (from off-panel) off in mid-sentence.]
Blondie (off-panel): Do you-
Megan: I want to be a storm chaser.
[A black tornado reaches from the black storm clouds to the earth, kicking up a sizable cloud of debris at its base. Blondie is at the wheel of a car, with Megan hanging out the window and holding a camera.]

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"This comic may have references to the movies: Snakes on a plane, Twister, and Thelma & Louise."... and Sharknado. -- ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Sharknado wasn't around at the time of this comic, so I removed it from the explanation. Although Randall seemed to predict it or inspire it. 02:18, 12 January 2014 (UTC)

I read this as Megan possibly wanting a 'more than friends' relationship with blonde-hair, but never having the guts to say anything. Her expressing this fear is the closest she has got to saying anything, hence the awkwardness in the following panel. When blonde hair start to question Megan, she quickly interrupts and decide to go do something crazy together. I think I might be reading into things too much... --Pudder (talk) 09:25, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

That's pretty much what I thought. I read it as the blond thought Megan was hinting at something more than friends, but she actually meant she was putting off her desire to become a Storm Chaser. Randall Monroe? Want to shed some light on this? 19:02, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Maybe 'I'm afraid of snakes' is another lesbian reference... --Pudder (talk) 09:26, 25 September 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Pudder's first comment. For sure the Blonde woman begins to ask something regarding Megans phobia, and suddenly Megan and Blondie is not afraid even of tornadoes with snakes... --Kynde (talk) 20:21, 27 June 2016 (UTC)

The "romance" interpretation is entirely optional; I'm planning to update description to make that clear. "Everything is complicated right now" can apply to anything, and represent a psychological obstacle to taking up a new career or hobby, just as much as it can be an excuse to not pursue a romantic prospect. --mezimm 20:27, 3 December 2021 (UTC)

Done Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:32, 11 June 2024 (UTC)