“Too much is bad for you? Too much is bad for you? Of course too much is bad for you. That’s precisely what too much means. It is precisely that quantity deemed to be excessive.” With these sage words Stephen Fry once admonished his stooge Hugh Laurie in a sketch about the excesses of smoking.
Our society prostrates itself at the altar of excess. We bow before profligate spending, limitless drinking, shouting, unchecked distraction, consumption, eating and other forms of luxury. The age of bread and circuses has arrived, and far from wanting out we demand more. More satellite TV, more big bangs in big “smash” movie “hits”. We are advertised to on this basis: have a bigger memory, have a faster computer, a more powerful car, a more advanced electric razor. Have shinier hair, have bigger boobs, go to university more, earn more money… We also tune out more, get drunk more, get fat more, get admitted to hospital for preventable diseases more. Whether its good or bad, we don’t care. We want more. Does all this excess really push us towards happiness and fulfillment? Or will we have to come to the sad realisation in the end that the only two things that really satisfy us are opening a new CD from its plastic wrapper and watching other people fail?
I can’t really carry out an analysis about all this as wittily and poignantly as Armando Iannucci manages in his brilliant satirical series The Armando Iannucci Shows. So I’ll leave you to ponder the message for yourselves. The last thing you want is more explanation, I’m sure.