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When Osama bin Laden was discovered living practically in the pool-house of the Pakistani military, the same question was on everyone's lips: were the Pakistanis ignorant or corrupt? Had they somehow managed to overlook the presence of a highly-suspicious mystery compound nestled up against their answer to West Point, or were they knowingly harbouring  the terrorist for some sinister reason of their own?

I have no answer to these questions, as I am neither well-connected nor particularly well-informed. What I'm interested in is how often recently those same alternatives have arisen as competing explanations for regrettable human behaviours. The ignorant/corrupt alternatives, I mean, not the failing to notice mystery compound/ purposefully terrorist-harbouring ones. 

Recently, an ad agency in Brazil created what it appeared to think was an appropriate and inspired series of print ads for Kia. Here's one of them (click on it for a larger version):
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Obviously intended to promote Kia's dual-zone air conditioning feature, this cartoon employs always-crowd-pleasing suggestions of pedophilia to appeal to a wide audience. 

It's unclear how, exactly, Kia was associated with this agency, and surprisingly enough, even the fact that these ads won the Silver Lion at the Cannes advertising awards doesn't seem to make Kia want to be more associated with this agency.

It's clear the ads are juxtaposing wholesome Disney-type animation with racy adult-themed animation to create what they believe to be a comic effect. Were they too stupid to realize that the teacher-student ad would make viewers feel as though their brains had been flattened into cakes of manure? Were they fully aware of the manure-cake effect and cynically determined to exploit it to get attention? 

Then there's the now-defunct campaign from the California Milk Processor Board, which makes delightful jokes about how hard it is for clueless, long-suffering men to put up with their hysterical lady-friends before Their Time of the Month. Apparently, calcium helps with PMS, and as milk has calcium, men should buy a lot of it to stop their girlfriends from being such bitches.
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The milk people pulled the ads when people started getting all irrationally moody about them. Had the milk people been watching so many episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond that they thought these would come across as hilarious, "relatable", and unobjectionable? Or did they count on them to be objectionable so that they could have an article about how people found them so objectionable printed in the New York Times and thus get more attention for milk?

I realize that Osama bin Laden and offensive ad campaigns are not comparable. It's not those things I'm comparing, but my response to them. It's just discouraging to keep coming across off-putting things and to repeatedly think: "The people who did this might not be unscrupulous and manipulative; they might just be really dumb." It's discouraging when profoundly stupid is the best-case scenario.


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.
 
 
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May the viewing public have mercy on your soul.
It is, I am prepared to state confidently, one of the Rules of Comedy that it is funny and entertaining when someone important and rich is humiliated, but upsetting and not at all funny when someone inconsequential is embarrassed or brought low. No one wants to see an unemployed single parent's pants fall down (at least no one nice), but who wouldn't enjoy the spectacle of some magnate's trousers taking a tumble?

I relish good, old-fashioned public shamings as much as the next casual sadist. I don't know when I've last enjoyed anything quite so much as I've enjoyed watching Rupert Murdoch confusedly looking around for the walls of privilege that have hitherto sheltered him from indignant politicians and pie-throwing ne'er-do'wells. 

But I worry that I enjoy it too much. I could watch it all day. I could read this constantly-updated list of outraged comments in the New York Times for the next month. While it's reassuring that I don't feel giddily gleeful when I read about factory closures and food shortages, it's nevertheless disconcerting to realize how mean I am. I would like to be coolly disapproving, or restrainedly censorious. The fact that I am more like one of those people who used to bring a packed lunch to watch a public hanging than I am like one of those people who would have denigrated the public hanging and stayed home to read a morally-improving book is concerning. Of course, I don't actually want to kill Rupert Murdoch. I'm not blood-thirsty. I just want him to be subjected to a level of punishment commensurate with his evilness. And to watch while that happens.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.


POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.
 
 
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"I do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty the Press, her editors and reporters, regardless of the law. So help me God."
Canada is not very good at scandals. Not very good at all. There was the time Brian Mulroney went for a helicopter ride with a German (or something like that), and the time the Liberals gave a lot of other Liberals money, and the time that Stephen Harper became prime minister, but other than that, we've got nothing. Politicians don't tend to get caught doing anything interesting with prostitutes and the worst thing the Canadian media has done is to repeatedly employ Peter Mansbridge. 

The U.S. gets a lot of credit for its explosive and tawdry goings-on. They've had adulterous presidential fellatio, and all kinds of secret wars, and congressional boxer shorts running amok on the internet. But now the Brits, always a dark horse in the race as they sporadically come through with rich gentlemen getting caught in Nazi fetish scenarios, are really pulling ahead and putting the Yanks to shame with their near-unprecedented levels of shamefulness.

The News of the World violated the privacy rights of royals and celebrities, and hacked into the voice mail of a murder victim. Staffers seem to have made a habit of paying off the police and alternately terrorizing and attending the weddings of politicians. The relationship between the media and the political elite appears to have been exceptionally incestuous, corrupt, and mutually rewarding. 

Indeed, David Cameron's former communications chief, Andy Coulson, was once editor of the News of the World, and he is now the subject of a police investigation. 

So what could add a touch of the surreal to this stunningly repulsive situation? Why, an axe murder, of course. One of the private investigators who rustled up material for the paper was recently acquitted of the murder of another P.I. who was found in a pub parking lot back in 1987 with an axe through his head. He was acquitted, it seems, only through of a murky mixture of police corruption and incompetence. He did spend time in prison for trying to plant cocaine on someone, although Andy Coulson happily rehired him after he was released. 

Greed, graft, moral bankruptcy, and now a good, old-fashioned axe murder. Britain's currently leaving the rest of us in the dust.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

 
 
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Every now again, some book is written or documentary is made about how psychopaths are all around us. How psychopaths don't all end up being crazed killers, and often go on to become successful realtors and portfolio managers. After reading or seeing such a work, I generally spend a few days seriously considering whether that terrible person I once worked with who said awful things about that nice woman on extended sick leave was, in fact, psychopathic, and then I forget about it again until the next 60 Minutes special. 

I was reminded of the existence of the non-lethal - but still pathologically thoughtless and monstrously callous - breed of psychopath by the news coming out of Britain about the New of the World. You know, about how people from that paper who seem to do nothing but randomly wiretap Pippa Middleton hacked into the voice-mail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who'd gone missing. They proceeded to erase voice-mail messages in order to free up more space for new messages, and did so before the police had had an opportunity to listen to them. Because they  kept erasing messages, concerned family members were convinced she was still alive. Who else could possibly be emptying out her mailbox? Her body was discovered six months later.

We're all familiar with the kind of psychopath who collects toes, or looks like James Van der Beek, because Criminal Minds is on every hour of every day. But these non-violent ones, the kind who knowingly interfere with the search for a girl's killer and cruelly allow her relatives to hope in order to get fodder for a tabloid newspaper - they don't get as much airtime. So someone round up Mandy Patinkin, or another Dharma and Greg alum, and start shooting Criminal Minds: Repellent Behaviour so that the News of the World and others of its kind can be publicly reviled on A&E each and every afternoon.


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.


POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.