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 is afraid of snakes.

But inspired by this comment Megan, as seen before, acts overly philosophical and says that she is afraid of something not usually mentioned as a phobia. Indeed, uncomfortable with outright rejecting a romantic advance, she would respond to such an advance by making the excuse that everything is complicated right now. This would postpone the advance until the next year, when the other person would ask again and she would defer again, and on and on until one of them dies or moves on. This is what Megan states she is afraid of.

After she has said this, Blondie thinks for quite some time (in the beat panel). When she finally decides to ask Megan if she might want to do something, Megan cuts her off. Blondie has misread the situation, and guesses that Megan actually wishes to enter into a serious relationship with her. In fact, Megan does not. Rather than risk having to reject Blondie in the manner described above and beginning the cycle of annual rejections she so fears, Megan prevents the inquiry and interrupts Blondie to say that she wants to be a storm chaser.

Given the fact that Blondie has an idea that Megan actually have feelings for her, it is not so strange that she now decides to follow Megan's ambition and together they become storm chasers—individuals who pursue severe weather conditions, for either scientific investigation or providing media coverage or an adventure. Ironically, chasing adverse weather, especially tornadoes, is more dangerous than the things that cause the original phobia of either characters. 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.

In the title text another element of irony enters as they, while observing the adverse weather, notice that the snakes have been picked up by the tornado, and now, in addition to being exposed to the violence of weather, the main characters are also exposed to snakes falling from the sky.

This comic is related to the movies Snakes on a plane, Twister 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. It is also a reference to the Sharknado (film series)

This is the third comic about tornadoes, a recurring subject on xkcd. Storm chasers hunting tornadoes was also mentioned in the first comic about tornadoes 402: 1,000 Miles North and they were shown for the first time previously 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)