It’s the long drag of Dumb. MAD Editor John Ficarra talks about this with me at length a number of times over the course of the year—that from day one of the new year, he opens a book and shortlists all the Dumb. It’s no surprise then, that the sinking of the Costa Concordia would make the list, even if it played out in the January of 2012.
For all practical purposes, MAD reminds us, this tragedy could have been averted with the captain not showboating by skirting too close to the coast. The tragedy is the loss of human life, on the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic.
100 years on, the sinking of the Titanic offers a kind of practical marker for the end of an age of Empire, and the settling into a new cultural rhythm that will see democracy and individualism take root. In almost every sense, the Titanic seems to read like an essay on the hubris of Empire, and the reaping of the whirlwind that ensues.
The Costa Concordia is colored by none of those elements, and seems instead to point at exactly the lack of hubris. The loss of life is tragic. But the bowdlerizing of human ambition that would see sophisticated technology tasked to nothing more than showboating is the true Dumb here. And nothing captures the necessary derision for that Dumb better than the ‘80s-era style ad-art graphic that Bob Staake offers.
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