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Angry Birds: An Appreciation, by Paul F. Tompkins

author198 Aug 3, 2010

(Note: We noticed on Twitter a while back that famed comedian and friend of the show Paul F. Tompkins was somewhat obsessed with the iPhone game Angry Birds. We asked him to explore the issue a bit for you, dear blog readers.)

How did we kill time before smartphones? I honestly can’t recall. I have a vague recollection of flipping through magazines in waiting-room-type situations, but what did we do, say, in line at the post office? Waiting for a bus? Waiting for someone to meet us at a restaurant? I mean, did we just… look around or something? Can you even imagine! We just stood there like a bunch of ponderous cows, staring blankly and blinking, because what else was there to do? Cows must spend more than ninety per cent of their day just looking!

Finally, we were given personal portable telephones by The Science People. Thank you, Science People! Now we could shut out the world in front of us by staying connected to the world behind our backs. Texting, emailing, surfing the web—now this was living!

But the greatest gift The Science People (praise them), in their wisdom, gave unto us was games. “Were games?” Look, I’m no Science Person! I don’t know grammar but I do know that I love playing games on my phone. Even though it’s rather embarrassing when it becomes obvious to another person that that’s what I’m doing. The second my airplane seatmate glances over and sees that I’m breakin’ bricks, I always hide my phone and blurt, ‘I WASN’T DOING ANYTHING!” Then I slip the flight attendant a note indicating that the person next to me keeps punctuating her sentences with “Death to America.”

Anyway. Games! I’ve played ‘em all on the ol’ iPhone: Doodle Jump, Flight Control, Plants v. Zombies; and they’re all pretty good, but one game has captured my heart like those others just couldn’t (or wouldn’t, I’m not gonna take all the blame here).

That game is Angry Birds.

Look, we have long known that birds and pigs are mortal enemies. That’s just the way of the world. Birds HATE pigs. But have you ever thought to ask why? Of course not. It’s none of your business and you’re not a gossip. I like you. Well, now you can find out with a clear conscience, because the game lays it all out. It turns out the pigs stole the birdses eggs! I KNOW! And ever since then, the birds have been, to coin a phrase, angry at the pigs.

“Angry Birds” depicts the birds as willing to do whatever it takes to destroy the pigses forts of stone, wood and glass, and it seems that what it really takes is slingshotting themselves at these structures and smashing them bit by bit.

More than just a sobering history lesson, “Angry Birds” is a beautiful game. It’s absolutely lovely. The way the structures buckle and sway after a bird-bardment; the way one bird will hurtle through the air, splintering, Blue Angels-style, into a three-bird assault squadron; the way a box of TNT explodes, propelling boulders into the air… the movements are all as realistic as you’ve ever seen in one of these phone thingies. You actually have a sense that you actually, physically did something. Sometimes. I’m not crazy!

When I first played and finished every level “Angry Birds,” like Alexander, when he realized he had no worlds left to conquer, I wept. But unlike the dumb days Alexander lived in, we here in this time have The Science People! And they keep making new levels of “Angry Birds!” Now who’s great? The Science People, that’s who! “That’s whom?” Again, no Science Person here! ALL GLORY TO THE SCIENCE PEOPLE AND THEIR GLASSES WHICH ARE OH SO THICK!

As of this writing, I am waiting on two promised levels of “Angry Birds,” which, the game informs me, are ‘COMING SOON!” Why must I wait? Why, Science People? Can you not see that I love you? How may I please you? Do you demand sacrifice? Say the word and I shall spill bloo—

Oh, hey, my sandwich is ready!

(You really should visit Paul’s website and listen to his wonderful new podcast.)

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