There's an old cartoon in which a man who saved five people from drowning compares his reward to the man who won a bridge tournament. The bridge champion hoists a 3-foot high trophy. The lifesaver, by contrast, pinches between thumb and forefinger a quarter-sized medal of appreciation.
Let's face it -- kitsch sells. All one has to do is take a look at the long list of "reality shows" on the TV spectrum to realize that the late Andy Warhol's prophecy that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes is being fulfilled.
But fame, when spread too thin, gets cheaper. Warhol seemed to understand that two generations ago. Whether it's spending four days shivering outside a fast-food restaurant to be first in line to win a year's supply of wings, or creating a dysfunctional life in a mansion or on the Jersey shore, the media covers it. We did -- with the wings giveaway -- on Tuesday.
We recently observed Black Friday turn into Black Thursday. Newspapers showed photos and TV and Internet videos of hordes of shoppers fighting over gadgets with the irresistible charm of being 30 percent off the regular list price. It's a peculiar, yet addictive, thought process that motivates persons to leave the family hearth on a cold night and plunge into a retail mob, or shiver in freezing weather with the promise of endless wings for a year.
Frankly, if another fast-food restaurant offered a year's supply of short-end french fries for the first 25 patrons -- who doubts that there would be a long line waiting, with a few campers included?
There's so much more that can be done, particularly during this season of the year, to make our community a better place. United Way needs help, as do other charities, and there's always neighbors who need a friend or a helping hand.
We're not saying that those who seek out endless wings are immune to helping others. We just know that, like the man who saved five others from death, good deeds don't possess the public relations pull of kitsch.