There are as many colors in the nerdy rainbow as there are lonely children somewhere out there in the world, greedily collecting useless knowledge about sports, video games, movies, comic books, stamps, or really anything else in lieu of the useless baggage of lifelong friendships or romantic attachments. So it’s certainly possible for someone to have an encyclopedic command of, say, Pokémon types, or vinyl jazz releases from 1960 to 1995, but to never have heard of X-Force, Sapphire & Steel, Moe Berg, or some obscure David Bowie B-side. Still, there are some entities that are more-or-less cultural touchstones for the self-selected shut-in crowd, which leads us to ask: Are we really supposed to believe that Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg has never been a MAD Magazine dork?
This particular pop culture rabbit hole is, of course, all Donald Trump’s fault; using his typical “Sawyer from Lost” approach to maintaining the dignity of the American presidency, Trump recently labeled Buttigieg “Alfred E. Neuman,” a reference to the magazine’s gap-toothed, red-haired idiot mascot. To which Buttgieg responded with a pretty decent burn, suggesting that Trump is critically out-of-touch with American youth, which, fair:
Again, nice clapback. But also—and we say this with the unstoppable ire of “slighted” nerds everywhere: Fuck you, Mayor Pete. Are we really supposed to believe that a 37-year-old polymathic super dork didn’t occasionally find solace in the arms of ’90s-era MAD? That he never laughed away the tears by reading parodies like “Swine-Filled,” “Grossanne,” or “Home A-Groan”? (Shout-out to the copy of MAD For Decades on our desk for help with those.) That he doesn’t have a Sergio Aragones tattoo hidden somewhere, far away from prying eyes? Show us the receipts, we say, Buttigieg, and then fold those receipts to form images of other, more obviously satirical receipts.
MAD itself isn’t taking this sort of shaming lying down. The magainze—which has had a resurgence in recent years, including some painfully spot-on satire of America’s current relationship with guns—sent back some political commentary of its own: