With all the lunatic behaviour going on around us, it’s really a challenge to try and focus on any one aspect of the crazy and irrational things people choose to do as a topic worth a critical analysis. As an identifiable group, we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not entirely immune from such actions that can arise when a crowd of folks gets together to protest some circumstance or another. For example, we have the distinction of being the only nation to ever voluntarily relinquish democracy in favour of a commission government, after a mob took over Government House and forced a political change.
As a matter of record, that was during the Depression of the early 1930s, after the merchant class and the politicians ran this place into the ground and the province owed more than three times what the economy could generate every year. In this example, the lunatics were the ones running the show, and the mob that arose against them turned out to be the sensible ones. Some things never change.
Jump to modern times, and the types of mob behaviour we typically see in this part of the world is usually associated, not with a desire to effect political change, but rather, with the fact that your sports team either won, or lost, a championship. How, and why a bunch of sports fanatics can take to the streets and wreck such havoc on their own communities because of a won or lost game defies rational explanation. Clearly, it goes beyond irrationality to break store windows, loot and burn property, and assault firemen and police just because your team lost a big game. If that defies explanation, then engaging in the same behaviour because your team won requires you to be examined long and hard while locked away in some secure place very far and away from the rest of us.
Mob behaviour is seldom rational. Mobs take on a dynamic all their own, and it’s probable that individuals may set out with a crowd to do one thing that starts out as reasonable behaviour, and end up engaging in something else that is entirely unreasonable. Reason number 231 for living in Newfoundland? You’re less likely to find yourself as part of a mob, seeing a mob, or even critically analyzing a mob that happens to pop up. As Don Cherry might say, “You gotta love it!”
But it’s not just mobs that do crazy things. Individual folks are apt to take up a practice that others also engage in, and create a hobby that you might label a tad weird, if not crazy. Apparently though, calling something crazy is left to the eye of the beholder. I wonder about that. Especially when their hobby becomes mainstream enough to garner television airtime, a good portion of which is used by the hobbyist to explain why what they are doing is not crazy. The definition of crazy in this circumstance is a bit like trying to define pornography: I can’t really say what it is, but I know it when I see it.
Take REBORNS for example. A REBORN is a life-like doll taken care of by mature women. The dolls are eerily very life-like, to the point where police have been known to break out car windows in order to ‘rescue’ dolls that were mistaken for real babies. The dolls are dressed, cared for and treated as though they are real babies. They are taken out in strollers, car seats, bassinets; held, cuddled, fawned over and most disturbing of all, loved, which you might understand if they belonged to an eight-year old. There might be a therapeutic use for such dolls, but as a hobby, it comes across as pretty strange.
Defenders of the hobby insist it is no different than a man’s hobby involving toy trains, or the attention they might apply to their cars. Sorry, but I can’t agree. I can’t think of a man’s hobby where the inanimate object or objects in question are ever considered or treated as human, unless the man’s hobby is caring for, holding, cuddling or fawning over other humans in a similar age group, likely but not restricted to, members of the opposite sex. Whatever that hobby is could be crazy too, but that’s a whole different kind of crazy. You would know it if you saw it. But REBORNS? Lets hope they don’t form a mob. Individual women who engage in this ‘hobby’ already scare the pablum out of me.