671: Stephen and Me

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Stephen and Me
Hey, let go! We were all thinking it! Someone had to speak truth to power!
Title text: Hey, let go! We were all thinking it! Someone had to speak truth to power!


This is a reference to the 1989 documentary Roger & Me, in which director Michael Moore attempted to confront General Motors CEO Roger E. Smith over the company's closure of factories in his home town of Flint, Michigan. Moore uses the documentary to demonstrate his belief that the factory closures had a crippling effect on the local economy, and his objective is to ask the CEO pointedly about GM's disregard for the lives affected by their business decisions.

In this strip, Beret Guy mirrors Moore's determination to speak with the CEO of the auto company Volvo Cars, only to reveal that his burning question is actually trivial and juvenile in nature, comparing the company name with the outer parts of the female genitals. "Stephen" is probably Steve Odell, the CEO of Volvo Cars in 2009, a subsidiary of Ford by that time, and later taken over by the Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

As for Beret Guy's question itself, the two words are related: Volvo is Latin for 'I roll', and is at the root of volva, vulva 'wrapper, covering'. However, the similarity that Beret Guy (or Randall) hears is likely due to American English, which strongly approximates the pronunciation of u and a in vulva to that of the o's in Volvo. Volvo was founded and is headquartered in Sweden, where the similarity would not be as striking.


[Beret Guy is speaking into a microphone standing in front Ponytail who is filming him with a camera, a coiled wire from the camera going down her bag and in front of her feet there is a sign. Megan is walking towards them with a briefcase looking down.]
Beret Guy: I'm documenting my quest to meet with the CEO of Volvo.
Megan: Get lost.
Sign: Volvo Cars
[In a frame-less panel two security guards/police officers with peaked caps with white emblems are attempting to restrain Beret Guy and taking the camera away from Ponytail, or at least lifting it up in the air. Beret Guy is leaning to the right, trying to get to the CEO. There is no sign of the sign.]
Beret Guy: Wait! I've come so far! Just let me see him!
[They've reached the CEO, Cueball, sitting in an office chair behind his desk, which has the Volvo logo on it with the arrow up and out to the right of the circle around the word. He is sitting leaning his elbows on the table top where there is a round item on a foot as at the front of the desk as well as a box for the intercom. Ponytail is filming with the camera, and Beret Guy stands with the microphone down.]
CEO: All right, you've reached me. What is it you want to talk about?
[Same setting with Beret Guy talking into the microphone and the CEO leaning forward, pushing the bottom of the intercom. The other small item has disappeared.]
Beret Guy: Do you realize how much your company's name sounds like "vulva"?
CEO: Security?

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The etymologies are related. 21:53, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

How ironic, then, that Volvo's trademark is the same as the astrological symbol for Mars, the alchemical symbol for iron, and the Linnean symbol for male. Orazor (talk) 13:09, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
And attractive? -- Weatherlawyer (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)