January 14, 2005

Going Too Far

MediaCow is back...

Going Too Far is going to be big this year. Even bigger than Russell Brown was in 2004, if that is possible. Going Too Far is when you aim to do something just a wee bit outré, but end up being inappropriate and offensive instead. Ever-fashionable Prince Harry, the Party Prince, gave us a fine example of Going Too Far when he dressed like his great-uncle for a rather lame party (for a link to the pictures, go to any other weblog).

When you Go Too Far, you start with a good intention (“I want to be humorous” or “I want to make a political point”) and then your execution goes awry or you get unexpected results. Either way, you end with the sort of gulping, terrified feeling we get when David P Farrar hasn’t written anything for a whole twenty minutes.

Some people (such as those who believe it just might be funny to start a speech with the phrase, “
Ladies, gentlemen and niggers...”) were born to Go Too Far. Others, like the amorous couple that forgot to close the curtains on their living room window facing a childcare centre, just seize the opportunities that come to them.

The Asian Tsunami has provide many harrowing, heartwarming and miraculous stories and images.
It has also given us examples of people Going Too Far.

The Ayn Rand Institute (where all the little yellow ducks of freedom are trying to float to) got off to a flying start by circulating an op-ed titled “U.S. Government Should Not Help Tsunami Victims”, in which they argued:

According to altruism -- the morality that most Americans accept and that politicians exploit for all it's worth -- those who have more have the moral obligation to help those who have less. This is why Americans -- the wealthiest people on earth -- are expected to sacrifice (voluntarily or by force) the wealth they have earned to provide for the needs of those who did not earn it. It is Americans' acceptance of altruism that renders them morally impotent to protest against the confiscation and distribution of their wealth. It is past time to question -- and to reject -- such a vicious morality that demands that we sacrifice our values instead of holding on to them.

Take one political point, immerse in rhetoric and then set loose at exactly the wrong time. That is Going Too Far.

Then there was the Us magazine executive who declared: “For a celebrity weekly, this is our Tsunami". What was he talking about? The Brad and Jen break-up, of course. This executive actually realised he'd made a booboo. He subsequently apologised. In a reassuring demonstration that his sense of perspective had been restored, he told New York Post’s Page Six: “I wish I'd said that this was our equivalent of covering the presidential election.”

By the way, if you are the social democrat prime minister of a populous wee nation, it is probably best not to tell the grieving mother of a Tsunami victim to ‘write a letter’ to your office to sort out where her son’s body is. Especially when she calls you live on radio.

However, as hard as Tony Blair tried I don’t think his activities fit the criteria for Going Too Far.

On the other hand, a company that most definitely sails through the Going Too Far requirements on a daily basis is the group that is selling “
I Surfed the Tsunami 2004” t-shirts.

One disaster, many examples: Going Too Far is the thing to do in 2005.



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