The Rube Goldberg invention cartoons, on the other hand, are somewhat exaggerated representations of what some inventions could be like – totally unnecessary. The Goldberg contraptions do not really contribute to the ease and speed of how things are done. They show that 1) inventions can be the result of unnecessary desire for contraptions, 2) modern technology can get out of hand, and 3) we can sometimes make something easy a lot more complicated than it normally is. After all, when given an easy problem during an exam, don’t you sometimes balk? Don’t you sometimes feel that the question is some sort of trick? So, you beat around the bush looking for a more complicated and supposedly more intelligent answer.
Goldberg was not attempting to show a more reasonable Professor Butts. The professor is just that – inventive, inquisitive and curious about how parts work together as a whole. His discoveries, however, can be the result of a lot of humor. After all, we the observers somehow knew a lot better than this character. However, Professor Rube Goldberg’s comic counterpart knows more a lot about having fun in discovering things. We could not help but laugh when we see him concoct solutions to something as simple as wiping one’s face with a napkin. Surely, you don’t really need a machine of any sort to accomplish this task?
Rube Goldberg’s works make us think a lot more deeply. They also make us laugh. Humor makes one more relaxed. As a result, the mind becomes more open, not tense, and ready to receive more information. Because of this, these Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts strips had become inspirations to new and old inventors alike. These inventors, whether engineers or scientists, became more eager to think outside of the box even when provided with images of often ridiculous machines thought of by the brilliant mind of Rube Goldberg. With both humor and unconventionality, Goldberg’s works were able to capture the interest of young scientists, who could be the future of science and technology.
Rube Goldberg, if he were alive today, would have been thrilled that he was able to contribute so much not only during his time but even years after. He would have been able to accept the honor with humor and humility.
Rube Goldberg has an eye for social commentary. He won the Pulitzer because of this. His comic strips, however, were also social commentaries. These images were commentaries on the often overly complicated inventions during the beginning of the twentieth century. The whole series of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts strips was actually a means to poke fun on those inventions. Goldberg was able to make a successful career out of poking fun of other people’s inventions. He also veered the people’s attention towards the fact that the difference between the haves and the have-nots had become more definite because those who could not afford the new inventions were not able to take advantage of the new conveniences.
Our scientist-artist had engineering training. He knew how to make some parts work by putting them together. So, he was able to identify which inventions had bordered on the unnecessary or ridiculously clunky.
Looking back on the history of science and technology, the early inventions were indeed clunky. Inventors were just interested in function and not yet in convenience, portability and space-saving qualities. They just put together parts that could perform the task that they had in mind. Those parts work together as expected but are often too large for a regular room. So, usually regular households did not have them.
Rube Goldberg had enough material to ponder about as he illustrated comic strips from the 1900s to the 1960s. Through those years, he was able to witness the change of technology for the better.
The artist also could not help but express his opinions through his works as art could be very subjective. His preferences, such as smoking cigars, were showing in his strips. He depicted politicians as stylish men with full bellies and a penchant for smoking cigars. The picture was not really fully positive as these pot-bellied men spewed hot air that was used to power some of Goldberg’s inventions. It was only the cigarette smoking that Goldberg was supporting; he was not really into politicians, who were people he had become exposed to because of his own father’s involvement in the world of politics.
Just by looking at his cartoons, we can see just how much humor Rube Goldberg could find from the simplest household items to the more serious political topics. We expect that he should be a well-respected and even a well-beloved man for it. After all, he had brought a lot of fun into many people’s lives. He had added color and vibrance into newspapers. He had made us look at things, especially inventions, in a different light. There was also room for social commentary in his life as he took notice of social equality and injustices.
Being a great satirist, however, came with a price. For Goldberg, it meant that he would have some detractors and even enemies. In fact, there was a lot of hate directed towards him during the Second World War. Goldberg was concerned about his children’s safety that he had their surnames changed to ‘George’. This was mentioned earlier in the discussion of his Early Career and Family Life. His children only managed to preserve their original surname through the company called RGI, which stands for Rube Goldberg Incorporated. It was a little sad that some of the pride that the children felt for their father had to be hidden in the name of safety. The changing of surnames, however, was enough proof that Rube Goldberg was an important enough man to attract the attention of people with influence and who had the power and source to hurt him and his family.
Though Goldberg’s family had to undergo a major change due to the practice of safety precautions, there was a positive side to this. It meant that Goldberg was making a real impact in the world of satire and cartoons. He was not just any cartoonist finding ways to make a good buck but someone who was making waves even in the world of politics.
The name change also has a truly Rube Goldberg machine spin. Rube’s children had not been given the chance to use the surname to their advantage. Instead, they have to go the complicated way by starting things over with a new surname. They were happy enough about the change because they had become tired of being introduced as Rube Goldberg’s children and wanted to start off careers on a clean slate. Fortunately, Rube’s children did succeed on their own, landing high-profile jobs themselves in Hollywood. One was an artist and one was a Broadway director, writer and producer. Continue to next page.