779: Anxiety

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Don't need any, thanks. I have a backscattering fetish.
Title text: Don't need any, thanks. I have a backscattering fetish.


Some people are upset about airport security policies that mandate the use of backscatter X-ray machines, since the machines can create an image of the subject naked. In protest, the travellers in the lineup (or at least the male ones) are taking Viagra, sold to them by Black Hat; there is a heteronormative expectation that the male security guard will be disgusted at being forced to look at erect penises. (An expectation which is supported by the guard's thought bubble of 'Oh god', which could either be in response to seeing what Black Hat is doing or in response to an unseen person, presumably sporting such an erection, already in the scanner.)

Given Black Hat's personality, it is unlikely he himself is doing this in protest; rather he is monetizing the opportunity, a supposition reinforced by the inflated price ($20 for a single dose) at which he is selling the medication.

An alternate interpretation is that many men feel self-conscious (or anxious, as the name puts it) about their size when flaccid,[citation needed] and thus might wish to "put their best foot forward" and look their best, as it were.

Realistically, given the size of the line, there would be insufficient time between consuming the pills and entering the scanner for them to take effect.

In the title text, one of the people in the line explains he has a fetish with being X-ray scanned, and thus doesn't need Viagra to achieve the above effect.


[There is an airport security checkpoint where a queue of ten passengers is waiting to go through a backscatter x-ray scanner. Near the back of the line, Black Hat is standing next to a stand and a sign which says "Viagra $20". One passenger next to him is drinking a glass of water; another is contemplating the sign.]
Security Guard (thinking): Oh god.

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I don't think it's Black Hat saying the title text but someone else in line. However, I'm not sure so I'm hesitant to edit it. 15:54, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

I think the point is not about offending the backscatter operator, but more about men not wanting others to view their genitals in the flaccid state. Many men have self-esteem issues about genital size, and would be eager to take a pill that would make them appear larger before exposing themselves in that way. 05:29, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

$20 a pill for a now-generic (Pfizer's patent expired in mid-2014) medication is a bit steep, yes? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not sure how that is in any way relevant, since the comic is from 2010. Are you suggesting that Randall on a regular basis should go back and adjust all his comics for inflation and other market developments? 22:35, 5 October 2014 (UTC)
Plus, Black Hat is probably not overmuch concerned with providing a fair price. It's like the vending machines at amusement parks that charge $5 for a bottle of water. -- 20:42, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Backscattering fetish must be a subset of X-ray porn (which exists - no, really). 11:15, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

I don't know what I expected. I googled it. 18:11, 28 April 2015 (UTC)BK201

Explanation was convinced men would want to do this just to resist the system, I find there's a more obvious and definite reason so I put that in, and kept the previous as an alternate (while less likely) explanation. Maybe I just understand psychology better, maybe it's that I remember the night my brother and his buddy tried to fill in as strippers at a bachelorette party and had a certain form of stage fright. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:08, 18 March 2018 (UTC)

Quick edit, the transcript says that the guy with the glass just took the pills and is washing them down, I changed it to say that he's about to take the pills now that there's some water in his mouth because A, the way his hand is positioned makes it look like he's still holding them and B, that's how I take pills. (Personal research, sorry)