2621: Mainly Known For

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Mainly Known For
Oh sure, I know Keira Knightly, from the first movie in that series by The Land Before Time producer. You know, the franchise with the guy from Jurassic Park and Ghostwriter, and script work by Billie Lourd's mom?
Title text: Oh sure, I know Keira Knightly, from the first movie in that series by The Land Before Time producer. You know, the franchise with the guy from Jurassic Park and Ghostwriter, and script work by Billie Lourd's mom?

Explanation[edit]

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by that guy from NASA, what was his name? Something Munroe - Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Megan points out an uncanny resemblance between someone's dad and Steve Jobs. However, she is uncertain that Steve's last name is Jobs, so she refers to Jobs as "the Pixar guy", asking Cueball if Jobs is the correct name. Jobs is mainly known for (hence the comic's title) being the co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. In 1986 (between his periods leading Apple) he funded the spinoff of Pixar Animation Studios as an independent company, serving as its chairman. While this was a significant business achievement, it wasn't especially famous among the general public and was far less well-known than Jobs' role with Apple.

Frequently, when people can't remember a celebrity's name, they will point out other works they are known for in hopes someone else will recognize them from that and remind them of the name. The comic, for its demographic of nerds, is joking about how it can come across to have lived a life separate from popular culture, where one learns things for different reasons than most people do.

Cueball points out that Megan's tendency to avoid the "main" association and instead go with a much more secondary one is weird, which confuses her. To demonstrate how weird her associations are, Cueball asks her, "Who is John Lennon?" Lennon was a founding member of The Beatles, which is one of the most famous bands of all time. Megan recognizes Lennon as a musical artist but cannot remember the name of The Beatles. Bizarrely she does remember the name of Lennon's bandmate Ringo Starr. Even stranger, Megan still fails to associate Ringo with The Beatles, but rather remembers him as Mr. Conductor from the first season of the 1989 children's television show Shining Time Station. Starr was never particularly well-known for his acting career, and even among his acting roles Shining Time Station was a minor and obscure example.

Hoping to show that she really does know Lennon and that her associations aren't weird, she points out that she remembers John doing a song with David Bowie. But she cannot remember the name of the song ("Fame") or even Bowie's name, recognizing him instead for his acting role in Labyrinth. When Cueball states Bowie's name and adds, presumably sarcastically, that he thinks he is famous for "other stuff", she also remembers Zoolander which is a less prominent film in which Bowie had a cameo. Bowie is primarily famous for his famous musical career (such as his smash hits "Space Oddity" or "Let's Dance").

Sensing Cueball's annoyance, but failing to understand it, she attempts to excuse herself for not remembering Zoolander to begin with, because it came out a long time ago, during the Presidency of George W. Bush. Zoolander was indeed released in 2001. Apparently unable, again, to remember the president's name, she identifies him as "Jenna Bush's dad". Jenna Bush is a minor TV personality and is far less well-known than her father.

While the kind of associations people make, like Megan in this comic, are often prone to the Mandela effect, Megan's information about all the celebrities is, in fact, correct. Still, apparently, they are never what those people are best known for. The oddness of having such obscure knowledge about celebrities and popular culture, but apparently missing far more common knowledge, is frustrating to Cueball, but there's nothing he can point to that she's wrong about.

There may also be some overlap with the Streisand effect, named after a woman widely known for owning an overly lavish mansion on the coast of a large mid-North American state north of Mexico.

In the title text, Megan stacks her unusual references and takes them to extremes. She refers to "Keira Knightly" [sic -- her surname is spelled Knightley], who is probably best known for her roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean films and the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film, by referencing her small role in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (as Sabé, who funnily enough is a handmaiden and decoy for Queen Padmé Amidala, the main character played by Natalie Portman). "Star Wars" is one of the most famous film franchises in history, but Megan seems not to know the name of the series, or the film, referring to it as the "first movie" (it was the first in the plotline, but the fourth one made) in "that series by The Land Before Time producer". (George Lucas is famous as the creator of Star Wars but was also one of the executive producers of the 1988 animated film The Land Before Time.)

In addition to George Lucas, she identifies another actor in the Star Wars series, Samuel L. Jackson, by his roles in Jurassic Park (an extremely successful film, but one in which Jackson had a relatively small role) and the PBS children's series Ghostwriter (in which Jackson appeared in only a few episodes). In addition, Megan mentions that the Star Wars series had "script work by Billie Lourd's mom", referring to Carrie Fisher. Fisher came to fame playing the major role of Princess Leia Organa in the original "Star Wars" film and reprising her role in multiple sequels, but she also contributed uncredited script-doctoring work to the franchise.

Ghostwriter was previously featured in 130: Julia Stiles, which described a scene from the show as "the best thing ever to appear on TV".

Transcript[edit]

[Megan holds her hand palm up towards Cueball.]
Megan: ...And her dad looks exactly like the Pixar guy. Steve what's-his-name? Jobs?
Cueball: "Pixar guy"?
Cueball: You always know famous people for such weird reasons.
[Megan puts her hand down.]
Megan: What do you mean?
Cueball: Who is John Lennon?
Megan: Wasn't he in a band? With Ringo from Shining Time Station.
Cueball: How is that your main association?
[In a frameless panel Megan holds a finger up in front of Cueball.]
Megan: I also know he once did a song with the guy from Labyrinth!
Cueball: You mean David Bowie? I think he's famous for some other stuff, too.
[Megan puts her hand down while Cueball facepalms. The line connecting his is curved.]
Megan: Oh yeah, he was also in Zoolander!
Megan: I forgot that movie, it came out back when Jenna Bush's dad was president.
Cueball: *Sigh*


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Discussion

Title text: the movies are Star Wars, 1) Keira Knightly starred as one of the handmaidens of Padme, 2) The Land Before Time had George Lucas as executive producer 3) The guy from Jurassic Park and Ghostwriter is Samuel L. Jackson 4) Billie Lourd's mom is Carrie Fisher.--172.70.254.121 04:19, 19 May 2022 (UTC)

The hard part must have been finding out that she did script work, because she is not credited for this even on IMDb... I would like a citation for that actually, rather than the silly ones that was in the explanation at this time. --Kynde (talk) 12:06, 19 May 2022 (UTC)

Re. John Lennon/Ringo Starr: Could one make the argument that the whole Beatles section is further proof of Megan's tendencies because Ringo is widely cited as the least famous and recognisable of the Beatles, meaning that the fact that she mentions him before the probably much more famous Paul McCartney and George Harrison is also misjudging who the Beatles are mainly known for consisting of??

Agree that this could be mentioned --Kynde (talk) 12:06, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
Being the "least famous Beatle" still makes him one of the most famous people in the world. You have to go to Pete Best, the original drummer he replaced, to have a Beatle that isn't known by most most people. I also think Ringo may have been more well known during the Beatles' heyday, as he seemed to be more vocal in interviews than George Harrison, who was the "quiet one". He didn't have as big a solo career as the others after the breakup, but that's also a high bar. Barmar (talk) 13:13, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
It's not just whether he's the least well known of the four, though. Apparently, to Megan, he's more well known than Lennon, who is certainly the most well-known of them to the rest of the world. 172.70.86.44 13:41, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
Without having read the above (Barmar), I recently added in the George detail myself. I mean, personally, I found Ringo more memorable than George (individually, but also a hint of "the Fab four are John, Paul, ummm.... And Ringo!" as Mr Starkey's nick-/stage-name is so much more distinctive).
Ringo continued(/ues) to perform beyond the Beatles, and not just as drummer, far more than George who did perform but seemed to move into behind-the-scenes Producer-like and/or financially backing roles for classic/cult-classic projects like Life Of Brian/Time Bandits.
I think George's impact on the Beatles, and beyond, was not at all small but was generally less prominent (except maybe for his Bangladesh fundraising/etc) than Ringo who managed to be front-of-house, in various capacities, a lot more. Not quite to the level of Paul (his only current active 'competition', given that the others in the running succumbed to mortality) but his innate firstname-recognition certainly leaves him not far behind. 172.69.33.237 15:40, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
Paul? George? Put me as another person who knows only Lennon and Ringo. Also note that someone who has interest in movies but much less interest in music, remembering singers by what movies they starred in makes sense. Even remembering Jobs for Pixar would be at least consistent. Of course, then she doesn't know Star Wars by name or by one of most important characters in it ... while knowing someone who played in the last trilogy. -- Hkmaly (talk) 20:59, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
Hang on. Hang ON. Is anybody seriously taking a "Paul McCartney? George Harrison? Yeah...? I've kind of heard of them, I guess?" kind of attitude?
Like, really? REALLY?!
Like..."Burger...'King,' I think? MacKenzies for a third-pounder Big Mac? Kentucky Fried Something? I think...or was it Tennessee? No, no, pretty sure it's Kentucky."
"That dude on the Buck: Jeff Washingburn, right?"
John, Paul, George and Ringo. Even if you don't care, you can't not know.Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 01:26, 20 May 2022 (UTC)
No, I unironically would not be able to tell you the third one. Lennon is The Beatle, McCartney I recognise but didn't realise was a Beatle for years, Ringo at least has a distinctive name but I might mistake him for a Marx Brother. Noaqiyeum (talk) 10:06, 20 May 2022 (UTC)
Naming all the Beatles for the current generation is like naming all the Marx Brothers for their grandparents' generation. Fephisto (talk) 20:09, 20 May 2022 (UTC)
...Zeppo (best known for inspiring the prefix for 10-21 ), ...Gummo (went into confectionary marketting)... 162.158.34.205 20:57, 20 May 2022 (UTC)
Sorry, Yorkshire, but I swear to God that I actually heard a couple of Gen-Zers talking to one another about Paul McCartney for some reason, and one of them, in all seriousness, said to the other, "Did you know that he was in a band before 'Wings'?" RAGBRAIvet (talk) 16:46, 21 May 2022 (UTC)
Sorry, I heard the "Wings" joke at least twenty years ago and have used it myself in jest. 108.162.221.163 23:32, 21 May 2022 (UTC)
If that really happened, the Gen-Zers were putting you on. For someone to be more familiar with Wings than the Beatles, they would probably have to have been born between the mid-1960s (and thus been too young to have experienced Beatle fandom while the band was active) and the early 1970s (and thus been old enough to have been aware of Wings while it was an active band). People somewhat younger than that might know McCartney as a solo artist in the 1980s, but as the Beatles had much more of a legacy than Wings, those born in the mid-1970s and after would be much more familiar with the Beatles than with Wings (unless they grew up with an older sibling or parent with unusually pro-Wings musical tastes). Generation Z-ers weren't born before the mid-1990s. Your Gen-Zers would have been at least 25 years too young to know Wings better than the Beatles. --172.70.131.128 06:25, 4 June 2022 (UTC)

Question in general, but don't know where to ask: why are panels 1, 2 and 4 boxed off, and is 3 open? Going back in time, the first example I found where a panel is not boxed off, is Health Stats, in which it's also the 3rd one that is open...162.158.233.89 10:00, 19 May 2022 (UTC)

No it is relatively common, but something that I strive to mention when it happens, as it is a defining characteristic of those comics where it occurs. I'm not sure I have used the same wording every time, but searching for in a frameless panel I got 35 results from other comics transcripts. So Randall uses this on a regular basis. --Kynde (talk) 12:04, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
I think it's a nice stylistic choice. 'Borderless' frames that are defined by the borders of adjacent frames (usually to left and right, but occasionally above and below rather than the 'virtual' boundary that is the natural continuation of the margin betwixt image-edge and adjacent explicit frame-edges) give a sense of openness where strict 'each cell is bounded' could be seen as claustrophobic and wasteful of actual comic real-estate.
And it's done quite a bit, yes. Maybe the reason you (162.158.233.89) hadn't noticed it was just that it was so naturally done? Consider it yet another reason to browse back through old comics, just to pick up these little quirks. Like the peculiar "TH"-kerning which is another Randallesque bit of idiosynchratic penmanship, etc. ;) 172.69.33.237 15:40, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
You DO know who Michael Jordan is, right?
Sure I do! Space Jam. Fephisto (talk) 19:20, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
Seconding that. -- Hkmaly (talk) 21:03, 19 May 2022 (UTC)
He was that guy who's name is like the actor that was in Space Jam 2 for a little bit, right?
He's that footwear designer for Nike. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 02:50, 22 May 2022 (UTC)
Are you folks talking about that guy who ran a summer basketball camp for Chicago suburban elementary school kids at Elmhurst College around 1990? He tripped over me once while I was working painting dorms.162.158.106.237 20:59, 23 May 2022 (UTC)

I don't follow sports other than baseball. I can recall two actual moments like this in my life. Once was when I was flipping channels and saw footage of Shaq actually playing basketball. The other was connecting the name "Peyton Manning" to that guy I've been seeing in all those commercials. Bonus: My mom picked out a car from a dealership owned by "some baseball player." (Mike Piazza). Being that I actually do enjoy baseball, that seemed silly, but then realized I was just as bad when it came to the other sports! 172.70.134.103 15:58, 20 May 2022 (UTC)

This may be too much of a stretch, but calling Samuel Jackson "the guy from Jurassic Park" may be an oblique reference to Epic Rap Battles of History, Steven Spielberg vs Alfred Hitchcock - where at one point, Tarantino's lyrics are "Ask anybody, 'What's your favorite Sam Jackson part?' No-one's gonna say 'What's his name from Jurassic Park?'" 172.70.219.26 05:40, 20 May 2022 (UTC)

"He in a band with Ringo from Shining Time Station." "Who is John Lennon?" GreatWyrmGold (talk) 17:24, 20 May 2022 (UTC)

Uh, I never watched Shining Time Station (I'm too old), but I've seen snippets (this is the first I hear Ringo was only one season), as I recall Ringo wasn't merely a voice, he was fully on it, just depicted as tiny, right? NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:38, 21 May 2022 (UTC)

This Jobs guy, that’s the dude who helped design NeXTStep right?162.158.106.237 20:59, 23 May 2022 (UTC)

Labyrinth guy. Wait. That’s the guy who sang a duet one time with the guy who played the Javert-inspired cop from Freejack. I think he might have been in a vampire movie once with the chick who was also in that one movie with Barry Bostwick and the guy who also played Poet Man in the second episode of Lexx. You know, the Earth 2 villain. Anyway the movie I mean (not the vampire one) is the one that has basically the same plot as The Black Hole. It had that one guy who did a bunch of songs written by the guy who was executive producer on the Sisters of Mercy Floodland album.108.162.246.178 21:12, 23 May 2022 (UTC)

True story: I just now asked my husband, “Who is David Bowie?” and he replied, “he’s the guy who sang ‘Little Drummer Boy’ with Bing Crosby.” But I shouldn’t make fun of him, I once wanted to refer to Richard Dawson and couldn’t remember his name, so said, “the guy who played the game show host in ‘The Running Man’” 172.70.230.111 14:59, 30 May 2022 (UTC)

How does the Streisand effect relate to this comic? --172.70.130.195 06:15, 4 June 2022 (UTC)