Wednesday, June 06, 2007
An angry Dutch lady emails to complain about my article on crap TV. The Big Donor Show on Dutch TV, you will recall, seemed to be about finding a recipient for the kidney of a dying woman. It was, however, a hoax designed to encourage people to become organ donors. The lady spoils her main point by devoting most of her email to her irritation with British anti-Dutch feeling. 'Why is it that the British feel they have to axe the Dutch down, when the opportunity presents itself?' (Dunno, we just do; also, I'm afraid, don't care. The British often express fellow-feeling through mild mockery and abuse.) But her real point is that the show was solely designed to encourage organ donation and, apparently, it has worked. This, in her eyes, seems to put the entire project beyond criticism. Such charity stunts are, of course, everywhere. From Live Aid to your local fun-run, everybody raises money by doing something more than just asking for it. And, whatever they do, their goodness cannot be questioned. Not long ago policemen forced me to crawl for an hour through some Sussex lanes behind a man running more slowly than I walk. He was the tail-ender in some charity half-marathon. Everybody else had finished hours before, but the inane sanctity of the event could not be challenged. The police would not even listen when we pointed out we were hurrying to the house of a dying friend. There is something distinctly creepy and selfish about all this. Most people seem to be taking part for themselves rather than the cause and sponsored bike riders or runners now simply take your money in advance making the actual physical effort pointless. My new policy is to offer money to people not to do the stunt. The truth is that charity stunts are all about the priggish self-satisfaction of public caring, of flaunting your goodness in the market place. They subvert the morality of giving. The donor is cajoled and coerced and is assumed not to be able to make the decision and the sacrifice of his own accord. So, angry Dutch lady, pick the bones out of that.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:00 am