INSULTING, JOLTING, & REVOLTING: Nasty Greeting Card Fun
Dec 30, 2000 (Updated Dec 31, 2000)
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Insults are necessary evils. Sometimes people are just asking for it. Their heads are getting too big for their hat sizes or their attitudes need a serious crewcut. So it's time to break out the bad joke buzz saw and take them down a notch or two. A liberal ribbing with virtual tickle-feathers will almost always do the trick. You've probably received some Hallmark Greetings via e-mail by now. Or perhaps you've been over to Blue Mountain's free greetings web site (http://www.bluemountain.com) and chosen some great cards to shoot posthaste across cyberspace. If you're like me, you find this 21st century method of card sending very convenient and fun...and a lifesaver when the clock has ticked too far toward the holiday or birthday in question.
But you do realize, don't you, that internet greeting cards aren't all bad poetry accompanied by Lawrence Welk sound bytes? How many happy little bunnies can you take in a year? There's a dark side out there, a mentally damaged and terribly deranged dark side, just waiting for you to explore if you have the courage. There you can discover a treasure trove of rude and evil little greeting cards to send to your friends, family, coworkers and all your other loathed ones, so long as they have a valid e-mail address. Maybe you want to brighten their day with a little black humor. On the net, you can do that. Maybe you want to cut someone down to size. You can do that too. Maybe you want to flirt in a risqué manner but you don't have the courage to tell the one you want face-to-face. Or maybe you want to tell your boss that his breath stinks without getting fired. Yes, these things are possible, as well. Anything goes on the internet, and with a little research and ingenuity, you can find the perfect insult, raspberry, or crack-me-up to send your cyberfriend.
Luckily, I've done a little bit of research for you. In this review, I'm going to try to keep a PG sensitivity while discussing my experience with Ohmygoodness.com, one of the internet's most artistically drawn "humor" cards...with a distinctive taste for all things smutty and lowbrow. Ohmygoodness.com provides all sorts of fun insults for you to e-mail to that special someone who needs a cheering up. But there are also a ton of other insult card sites on the net and I intend to survey the best of them all here. It's my duty. Ohmygoodness.com doesn't corner this market -- there are TONS of lewd e-cards out there and this review will only scrape the surface.
But first an important message from your sponsor...
We're entering PG-13 territory, folks, so please read no further if you're under 13. However, if you're mentally right around there, then keep reading, because this stuff is right up your alley...an alley littered with old Mad magazine pages and Wacky Package cards and all the other detritus of commercialized, sophomoric hijinx.
Now back to your regularly scheduled program...
A Typical Day Card Shopping
I used to spend hours in card shops, looking for the "perfect" card among millions of pieces of cut cardboard. I'd slot them awkwardly in and out of their thin card slots, working my way up and down aisle after disorganized aisle. I'd never be happy with what I found. Inevitably, I'd get bored looking at the same-old drippy Hallmark greetings and edge my way over to the humor section...or, if feeling frisky, I might turn the slim rack of risqué cards over in the corner. I think I was fooling myself thinking I'd send them -- most of the time I was too embarrassed to even buy them. Indeed, I was just entertaining myself by perusing a little gag or two, just like every "serious" newspaper reader still steals a peek at the funnies or editorial cartoons now and again. Because the humor cards provided comic relief from the routine formulaic ones all over the card shop.
Ding! Comic relief. That's the whole idea. Something to break the routine. Both the sender and receiver get it (if they have a sense of humor, that is). The more lowbrow, the sharper the humor cuts into the humdrum, leveling the recipient to their base humanity. That's the ethic behind these things: to not only relieve us from our stressful workaday worlds, but to remind us that we're flawed, base, and often venal. In other words, human.
Leave it to computer culture to bring that human side out all the more strongly. Let's see what's out there so far. It's so bad, it's good. And it's going to get better. Or worse. Or...well, you know what I mean.
Ohmygoodness.com is a site full of quirky cartoons for every occasion. And I mean every single occasion. Is New Year's Eve coming up? Valentine's Day? Or maybe it's just Thursday Night? Send your date a picture postcard. Go to http://www.ohmygoodness.com, find the appropriate category (or "inappropriate" as the case may be) from the hundreds they offer, browse around the samples, pick one, add a little cute text, provide your date's e-mail address , and -- boom -- he or she receives a message with a web link that she can click on and read.
It's that simple. Most online "greeting cards" aren't really cards at all, but links that the recipient receives via e-mail: they click on them (or paste them into their web browser) and are whisked away to a web page with a clever picture -- or possibly an animation -- accompanying a brief message. Banner advertising and junk e-mail is often the price you pay for the pleasure, but more often than not it's worth it. It's the thought that counts, right?
So what "thoughts" can you find on Ohmygoodness.com? The whole range of humor is possible here. Sure there are your typical "Over the Hill" birthday cards for retirees and other sympathy card parodies. Every holiday is represented here, as are every gift-giving occasion or reason to celebrate. But there's a lot more creativity to this site than you might imagine. You could choose a cute "winter" seasonal card to send a lover, which simply depicts two snowmen (well, snowpeople) embracing...and subsequently melting from the heat of their own passion. Or you can send a clever card from a series called "amusing pigs," which features animations of pigs on motorcycles or a pair of salamis dancing to the tune of "Rock around the Clock" (or is that "Rock around the Hock"?).
Of particular interest to me are parodies of commercial products and this site offers such satiric senders as "cybercondoms" (funny "models" of different condom types...quite funny!) and "virtually recycled gifts" (like "used dentures"). These oddities are beyond explanation; I suppose they function like virtual "Wacky Package" or "Garbage Pail Kids" cards, but you'll have to see for yourself to judge how successful they are.
The site has a great sense of playfulness and the humor cards are indeed humorous. But how are their virtual insults? Well, they're scattered all over the place and it will be up to you to determine how "insulting" the card you choose will really be. (Context has a lot to do with it: for example, if your friend smokes like a chimney, choose one of ohmygoodness's "smoking" cards, like the classic "I didn't inhale" picture of Clinton). Although they don't have a category called "insults" a lot of hidden treasures pepper ohmygoodness.com's site, so you'll be rewarded for burrowing around on your own. But here are a few hints: You could choose from their animated "April Fool's Day" cards if you want to play a trick on your recipient. Or you could choose from their selection of "naughty" greeting cards and send one of those for comic relief: they seem to be well stocked with cartoon "flashers" for all occasions (my favorite is the "flesh flasher" which depicts a man literally splitting his skin and spilling his guts! Not quite as grotie as it sounds...but still...the very idea!!! The one called "Poke-Moon" is pretty funny, too.).
Ohmygoodness.com has all the humorous cards you'll ever need. But it isn't quite as dark as you might need. Sometimes you need a little extra nastiness. That's when proper insult cards will come in handy. The web offers a wide range of them.
Virtual Insults (their subtitle is "Where Every Day is April Fool's Day!") is perhaps the largest "insult card" site on the internet. They feature numerous categories and while the animation can't hold a candle to ohmygoodness.com's artwork, this site does have some rather nasty little numbers. Many of them are one pane jokes composed mostly of fat-lettering text and loud graphics. The insults, then, are "jokes" more than comics. Most of the cards are base pastiches of generic greeting cards, too, like "Thinking of you...when I look at my dog's butt!" or "I'm Sorry...Not!"
The categories, however, are quite interesting. In addition to the typical greeting card genres, there are also "school" cards, "tax day" cards and "computer" cards that are all relatively funny, though base. I didn't like the very politically incorrect selection of "ghetto" and "yo momma" cards...in a website this cavalier, such low shots seemed really unnecessary.
So why go to virtualinsults.com? Their card categories and packaging methods do offer some high quality options. I really liked the ability to choose from a number of nicely animated borders to "gift wrap" the card. And there's a great selection of accompanying sounds you can attach to the cards. Indeed, you can choose from different genres like theme songs (e.g., movie rip-offs) or "funny sounds" (e.g., body sounds) and "dirty mouth" sounds (e.g., cursing). I was surprised to find the dirty words, personally. The cards are high quality, but the content -- while juvenile -- is adult. I suspect college students would find this the most enjoyable, but there's a strong "Beavis and Butthead" feel about the whole place. Maybe that's the point. But if that's not your cup of Earl Grey then stay away.
I found a clever joke about AOL on virtualinsults.com: In the picture, a field of AOL symbols shined...and in the foreground the text read: "You've got...JUNK MAIL." I thought this was apropos, so I sent it to my wife, who is an AOL user and who hates junk e-mail with a passion. She got a kick out of the joke. But the irony of it all was that the e-mail which contained her card (just a link to a web page) also contained a TON of advertisements in its footer. So, ironically, she DID "get junk mail." Be cautious. Send yourself an insult first to test and see if you're willing to put up with the adverts. Indeed, this is good advice for all internet greeting card sites.
If you're looking for a class act, you might want to go to "The Original" Insult Card Co. -- which actually manufactures and sells insults in the "real" world -- and check out their online free samples. The idea for the Original line is simplicity itself: the cards send quick jabs with very simple (but classy) line art: "Where did you learn to drive?" is but one example of a bounty of similarly insulting one-liners. There's a whole category for in-laws, of course. My favorite reads: "Not many men would leave their wives for their mother: You have guts."
The "Original" Insult Card Co. also produces the "Original" series of "lustful expressions" and "kinky" cards. These are the risqué cards I remember seeing in card shops as a kid. They're firmly at home with the genre of insult cards, and while they might sound NC-17, they're really quite tame (saying things like "Your bald head turns me on").
The "Original" has a touch of class and a distinctive style that is carried consistently throughout their line. This stylistic consistency, plus their artful simplicity, makes them very recommendable for the quick insult mailing.
What if you want to insult someone and in the process do them a favor...let's say, they have body odor and you want to tell them to grow up and use deodorant. Insulting? Yes. But you can send them a more polite card, anonymously, too. This service will cost you ten dollars, but it will probably be worth it ... particularly if you have a reputation or relationship to protect. This is not just insult card sending for the timid, shy, or politically correct crowd. This is guilt free insulting for when it matters most; indeed, it can be something of a social godsend, according to the testimonials on their web page. (The service has even been feature on CBS news!)
Go to nooffense.com and select from their long line of "polite" form letters that are at once insulting and anonymous. The service promises to be "polite and gentle" about their unpleasantness. They send a card, inform the recipient of the "problem" and then direct the recipient to their web site, where they are told, for example, how to choose a deodorant and how to use it properly. They promise complete anonymity. And you can finally release that repressed item you've been dying to say, worry-free.
There are "adult" sites...and then there are "juvenile" sites. This one is a very juvenile adult site, but it's good for a guttural chuckle. I wasn't going to recommend it, but I know that many people out there reading this are looking for just this very thing: a virtual reality rude gesture machine! Riponsomeone.com is a true "send an insult" site, incorporating silly "rips" performed by virtual computeresque characters (very close to being crash test dummies). So you can virtually give someone the finger, for example, or virtually kick a man in the crotch. There are worse things that I won't mention here, but the site is worth a laugh or two.
Again, this stuff is pretty dumb, but I was amazed that someone dreamed all of this up in the first place. I was even more surprised to discover that there are other sites -- like www.sodoff.com -- which are very similar. Something about the way these types of sites send non-verbal gestures directly to the reciever appeals to me. They're very immediate and therefore strike the reciever more effectively, even if the material is something you'd find on a fifth grader's playground. (And when I say "strike" I mean it...the site below includes a "virtual dope slap" that can give your target a face full of palm).
Riponsomeone's site promises to develop all sorts of online games, toys, jokes, and links, but at the time of this writing the site is only composed of silly sendable animation. But this is computer insulting at its most base, banal and, probably, best.
The above address at 4greetingcards.4anything.com will take you to a subcategory called "Nasty Greeting Cards" -- which is really just a shortlist of links to other internet sites, including a few of those mentioned above. I usually don't like to include indexes of websites in my reviews, but these "Nasties" are all wonderful examples of the genre. But they're also too gimmicky to earn a full paragraph write-up each here...I'll just tell you what they do and you can check them out yourself if you're interested. "Nasty Greetingcards" will link you to a handful of outside sources, including a "dog bite service" an "insult-o-gram" and (my personal favorite) "EVIL Grams," brought to you by the "Dark Lair of Infinite Evil" ...which I'm sorry to report is kind of silly in its use of SLAYER album covers and the like for their postcards. And there's also the "virtual dope slap" which gives your card recipient your backhanded best.
If by this point in my review you haven't found the perfect insult, then one of these nastier jobbies is bound to do the trick. And I recommend you don't go hunting for even darker sites, because you'll stumble upon some terrible jokes and even worse graphics (and when I say graphic I mean it...one site had live action shots of a person puking and a photo of a used toilet mixed in with the cheery/cheesy comedy cards...yuck!).
Thanks for reading. This was a hard review to write with a straight face. I think I avoided telling a lot of bad jokes, making a number of lame puns, and generally avoiding the nasty in this review. If you were hoping I'd be ruder than I was, then I thank you for your patience. In fact, I've sent you an insult card from http://www.electronicpostcards.com in appreciation! Here's the link:
(It will only be available on the site until Jan 14th, 2000 -- your reward for reading early.)
Hey, if you don't like this review, don't rate it with an NR...just send me an insult card instead!!! :-)
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