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This comic was released on the first day of 2020. It was the second of two New Year comics around the 2019-2020 New Year.
Megan, Cueball, and Ponytail are all happy for the beginning of the new decade, from 2020-2029, for a variety of reasons, but White Hat has objections to this beginning of a new decade.
It begins with Megan wishing happy new decade and Ponytail naming it the '20s. At this point White Hat tries to get in with an objection to this, but he is interrupted twice before he can make his point.
First Ponytail is exited that decades have "easy names" again. Decades such as the 1960s or 1970s had easy "names" - '60s, '70s, etc. The 2000s were sometimes named the "Aughts" and the 2010s the "Teens", names that did not enter popular usage, but we can return to the shortened decades name with the '20s decade.
Then she continues to discuss cultural trends and Cueball chimes in. In decades before the 2000s, trends were named for the decade in which its members reached adulthood / teenage years, e.g. a trend from the '90s. After 2000, many trends have been labeled with the "millennials" term, which refers to an entire generation who grew up in the 2000s. Cueball and Ponytail hope that trends will not be labeled as "millennial" or by generations in this new decade. This phenomenon was previously discussed in 1849: Decades. Millennials have also been mentioned in 1962: Generations and in 2165: Millennials.
The main point of the comic, however, is White Hat's claim that the new decade does not start until 2021. Ponytail claims that he is pedantic but in that case he should at least be right... Of course both sides believe they are correct. White Hat's argument appears to be analogous to the point often made at the turn of the millennium, which is that, because the Gregorian calendar doesn't include a year 0, the first century started in year 1, the second century began in the year 101, and so forth, so the 21st century didn't begin until the start of 2001. Nevertheless, most people was celebrating the shift from 19 to 20, as the first two numbers in the year, much more than they did the next year when the new millennium officially began.
Ponytail retorts that decades aren't numbered cardinally: any set of ten years constitutes a decade. While the 203rd decade of the Common Era doesn't begin until 2021, "the twenties" refers to all years that include a "twenty". White Hat appears not to accept this argument, insisting that that Ponytail doesn't "get it", he even wish to draw her a diagram which makes Ponytail interrupt again to respond in kind.
At this point Megan stops their heated argument claiming she can resolve this. She then states that MC Hammer's song U Can't Touch This, released in 1990, was featured in a 1990s-themed television show (I Love the '90s) instead of its 1980s-themed counterpart. Ponytail then claims that this settles the discussion. And White Hat throws in the towel stating that he accept VH1's authority and lets Ponytail win. This comment can be read in two ways: Sarcastic ("VH1 is a random pop culture organization with no expert knowledge, you have presented a poor argument") or legitimate ("I accept VH1 as a legitimate authority and defer to them," which would be humorous because VH1 is a random pop culture organization with no expert knowledge of the calendar). VH1 is the parent company of MTV, a cable TV channel known for grouping music by decades.
However, reading the Wikipedia page on Decade it is clear that neither White Hat nor Ponytail can claim to be correct. There is not consensus about what a decade should mean regarding 2021-2030 vs 2020-2029. On the other hand saying the '20s is much clearer defined as those years with two thousand and twenty something. But that was not what Megan was saying. Ponytail on the other hand uses that version.
Perhaps Randall may be concerned that a single datum-point is not sufficient proof, so in the title text he continues this theme with a hit song from 1980 grouped with the 1980s, not the 1970s. In this case it is Blondie's 1980 hit "Call Me" which is featured in Billboard's chart Best of the 80s.
The title text ends with QED, quod erat demonstrandum", literally meaning "what was to be shown, traditionally used at the end of a mathematical proof to mean "thus it has been demonstrated", as if this second landmark piece of evidence sufficiently proves Megan's point beyond a doubt, as conclusive as a mathematical proof.
- [Megan walks in from the left greeting Cueball, White Hat, and Ponytail standing in a line, the last two looking in her direction.]
- Megan: Happy new decade!
- Ponytail: Welcome to the '20s!
- White Hat: Actually—
- Ponytail: I'm excited we can name decades again.
- Ponytail: "Aughts" and "teens" never caught on.
- [Megan stops next to Cueball as White Hat has his finger raised.]
- White Hat: Actually, the new decade doesn't start-
- Ponytail: Mostly, I'm just glad we can go back to attributing cultural trends to decades instead of generations.
- [All four just stand normal.]
- Cueball: Yeah.
- Cueball: Decades were silly, but making everything about "millennials" turned out to be even worse.
- Ponytail: Seriously.
- [Only White Hat and Ponytail are shown, both with their arms held out to the sides.]
- White Hat: It's technically not a new decade until 2021.
- Ponytail: OK, listen.
- Ponytail: If you're going to be pedantic, you should at least be right.
- White Hat: I am right!
- Ponytail: You're not.
- [Zoom in on White Hat and Ponytails upper parts as they gesture towards each other both raising their hands palm up. Megan interrupts them from off panel, as made clear in the next panel. Her voice comes out of a star burst on the left panel frame.]
- White Hat: See, the 20th century didn't start until--
- Ponytail: But decades aren't centuries. They're not cardinally numbered.
- White Hat: You don't get it. Let me draw a--
- Ponytail: No, you don't--
- Megan (off-panel): Stop!
- [All four characters are displayed again. Megan has raised a finger and all the others look at her.]
- Megan: I can resolve this.
- Megan: *Ahem*
- Megan: MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This (1990) was featured in I Love the '90s, not '80s.
- Ponytail: ...That settles that.
- White Hat: Yeah, I accept VH1's authority.
- White Hat: You win.
Traditionally, the First Century starts in year 1 and ends in the year 100, the Second Century starts in the year 101 and runs through the year 200, and so on, because zero indexing, like the number zero itself, was not in wide use at the time. However, due to an error by Dionysius Exiguus, the year 1 was after the death of Herod the Great, so Jesus could not have been born in that year, and was probably born either in 4 B.C. or 6 B.C., so the first, second, etc., century after his birth would actually end in the mid '90's.
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in gif diehard is a Christmas movie. There is no right or wrong answer.
But is White Hat right or wrong? 188.8.131.52 19:00, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
- Both. It's the only way to settle this. 184.108.40.206 19:13, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
- I think that he is right, but it’s like asking if diehard is a Christmas movie. There is no right or wrong answer.
- Indeed, famed D.J. and space journalist Scott Manley says it's a new decade in C but not in FORTRAN. 220.127.116.11 19:37, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
- You mean it's already 21th century for FORTRAN? -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:33, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
- But what decade is it in the Delisle scale? 18.104.22.168 20:35, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
I'm fairly certain Ponytail contradicts herself in panel 5. Arguing that decades are not cardinally numbered is arguing that the decade starts in 2021 (ordinal numbering.) 22.214.171.124 21:20, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
- She doesn't: you're assuming there are only two options, but that's not the case. Decades (in the common "20s, 30s, 40s" form) are not technically numbered at all: they're named, it's just that those names are based on numbers.
- It's still a sequence, like names or dictionary entries being grouped into "As, Bs, Cs" and so on, though. (Is there a specific name for this type of sequence? If so, I don't know it.) 126.96.36.199 23:03, 1 January 2020 (UTC)
- She (more likely Randall's slip of the pen) is still wrong: what she means is that they aren't ordinally numbered, which is the reason the other guy is wrong. 188.8.131.52 08:23, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Having had this conversation on WhatsApp, I have settled on an ingenious solution that works for me (on being told that "0" had not been invented in the year between -1 and +1") and explains why decades start with "10, 20...": As usually nowadays, the first decade was the Betaversion and so only ran from 1-9... 184.108.40.206 (talk) 07:29, 2 January 2020 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Nobody really recognised the possibility of having/not having 0AD until c.525AD, anyway. (Sitting betwixt the nominal start of what became in our zero in 5thC and its eventual formalising in 7thC, over in India/etc.) If you ask me (and you aren't doing, I know!) I think they probably were envisaging an early version of 1s' Compliment, but knew it would be silly to have two separate numbers for the year ±0 and so fudged it entirely the other way. ;) 220.127.116.11 11:37, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Every year is a new decade. Just some of them overlap. The 203rd decade was from 2021 to 2030, while the '20s will run from 1920 to 1929. Both are legitimate decades. So id 1994-2003; it just doesn't have a convenient name to refer to it by. Heck, you don't even need a new year. 1981-12-03 to 1991-12-02 is the first decade of my life :) So if you want to celebrate the start of a new decade, you should celebrate every single day. Angel (talk) 10:48, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
- By that logic, the 203rd decade started 203 planck lengths (or other smaller time units) after the big bang. Or was it 202 planck lenghts after? However I agree, that decades start and end all the time. The question is just, what day does the decade "the 20s" start. I'd say it started on January 1, 2020. --Lupo (talk) 11:23, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
There is an interesting theory that CULTURALLY, a new decade doesn't really start until year 2 or year 3 of said decade. So, what we traditionally envision as "the 80s" actually was typical for ca. 1983-1992, what we think of as "the 90s" actually happened between 1993 and 2002, and so on. It makes a lot of sense if you think of it (and if you listen to music or look at pictures of the time); mullets were still a thing in 1991, just as carrot pants were in 1981 and psychedelic music was in 1971. (It also works for centuries, but with a longer timespan, about 15 years. 1910 or 1911 feels a lot more 19th century than 20th century. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna was held, which ended the European Wars of the 18th century and laid the foundation for the nation states typical of the 19th century, and for a period of relative peace that enabled the Industrial Revolution. And so on.)--18.104.22.168 12:00, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
- I'd argue that this is just randomness. There is no reason, any trends should align to the way the years are set up. Of course noone says "hey, it's first January 2020, let's start a new style of dressing and listen to new music." But neither do they in 2022. However e.g. carrot pants were MOST popular, and on their peak of popularity in the 70s, and psychadelic music in the 60s, even though trends linger and resurface long after all the time. --Lupo (talk) 12:54, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
- Well, I'd already planned to use exclusive and entirely 2020s' slang and fashion from yesterday onwards. After a few false starts because nobody knew what I was vocing about, I'm now starting it ween and only going full-barbecue as I get past the prime snick of my voc, in empthy my viewclan viz my deltas and merj my vocstyel, all charged for the dec fronting up! Ten-four, me hearties? 22.214.171.124 16:20, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
- Except the 19th century started in 1789; cf. the long nineteenth century. I had never heard of a 1815 start for the nineteenth century before. The nineteenth century is 1789-1914, and the twentieth century started in 1914 and ended in 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union. Looking at just American history, the nineteenth century obviously starts in 1776 and ends at the start or end of the Civil War, 1860ish. It's all arbitrary lines.--Prosfilaes (talk) 02:35, 7 January 2020 (UTC)
- Do you have any source or examples from actual historians, using a definition of centuries based on events instead of 100-year periods following each other? Eras or Ages might be debatable and dependent on the spirit of a given time, events, rulers, etc. but I have never heard about centuries being defined that way. The 19th Century started either in 1800 or 1801 and lasted until 1899/1900. --Lupo (talk) 07:07, 7 January 2020 (UTC)
- Cf The Long Nineteenth Century.--Prosfilaes (talk) 09:16, 7 January 2020 (UTC)
- Thanks. Interesting to read. I was not aware that this is a thing. However the wikipedia article explicitely calls "the long nineteenth century" a period, never a century (There is no sentence such as "the long nineteenth century is a century that [...]"). So I'd still say the 19th century started in 1800/1801, while the "long 19th century" started in 1750/1789. The Wikipedia article on century seems also to take centurys as literal 100 year periods: "A century is a period of 100 years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages."--Lupo (talk) 09:50, 7 January 2020 (UTC)
In the decades under discussion, VH1 and MTV were competing channels, not parent company - child company. (And MTV came first.) It's much more relevant to the explanation that VH1 was a music channel on cable TV than to explain who owns what now, three decades later. 126.96.36.199 15:59, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
I find it surprising that Randall didn't reference ISO-8601 by way of Wikipedia, such as in the Year Zero article, to make the argument that the first 10 years ran from 0-9 as "the standard". Though I suppose it is more entertaining/broadly targeted to reference pop. culture sources when labeling pop. culture trends. SensorSmith (talk) 16:12, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Well I might be stepping into a minefield by saying this, but obviously both CNN and FOX had dedicated articles reporting this issue and, as expected, have slightly different stances on the answer. I wonder if Randall is aware of this.
I really get a feeling that there's an extra joke or nod somewhere in the title text that's not covered - anyone spent a little more time on that yet? or maybe have a little more? Despite the feeling, nothing is occurring to me :-( Brettpeirce (talk) 14:31, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
I did a significant rewrite which captures most of what had been said, but tidies up and clarifies some points. I also removed some information that I felt wasn't relevant (eg. the trivia about Jesus' birth - while true and interesting, it isn't actually relevant to the comic or the explanation) - feel free to add anything back that you think should still be included for completeness.
Can I just say, though, that I am not a fan of this rambling style of recapping the comic blow-by-blow while explaining it? It seems to be a common style here but it makes the explanation significantly more difficult to follow. Here is an example of what I mean:
"At this point Megan stops their heated argument claiming she can resolve this. She then states that MC Hammer's song "U Can't Touch This", released in 1990, was featured in a 1990s-themed television show (I Love the '90s) instead of its 1980s-themed counterpart. Ponytail then claims that this settles the discussion. And White Hat throws in the towel stating that he accepts VH1's authority and lets Ponytail win."
Recapitulating the comic can sometimes be useful to give context to the explanation, but it gets difficult to follow when the text starts jumping back-and-forth between explaining things and simply stating things that are happening in the comic. In my rewrite, I have attempted to give a short recap at the very start of the explanation, to provide context; then, I have added explanations of the points raised by the comic. I still don't think it's the best way to go about it, but I think it's better. Hawthorn (talk) 14:20, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
- +1 - I really like your rewrite :) --Lupo (talk) 14:25, 3 January 2020 (UTC)
I wonder that seemingly nobody noticed that Megan is doing the characteristic part of the song here: "Stop! Hammertime!" I'm not sure how to inlcude that into the explanation, though... Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 09:16, 7 January 2020 (UTC)
- Added :) Hawthorn (talk) 11:02, 7 January 2020 (UTC)
- Cool, thanks :) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 13:43, 9 January 2020 (UTC)
White Hat is engaging in hypercorrection, one of the worst crimes of the pseudo-intellectual. They learn something but don't understand it, and then overcompensate by applying it too broadly. Grammar is one of their biggest failings. For example, you do not add -ly to every adjective that's simply placed near a verb. You feel bad, not badly. And while one does not end a clause with a preposition, "prepositions" like "in" and "with" are often not prepositions at all, but particles that serve a utility role and are valid at the end of a sentence. — Kazvorpal (talk) 16:51, 23 January 2020 (UTC)
- I have no idea what your comment invokes inside me. I feel badly. --Lupo (talk) 07:42, 24 January 2020 (UTC)
2 years later future context update: Nobody loves the 20s. And culturally (in the US) they started around 2020-03-20 when everything first locked down. davidgro (talk) 20:24, 17 May 2022 (UTC)