Friday, October 29, 2010


This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

I have always held Randy Quaid in the highest esteem, if only because he was so hilarious as the Quaker bowling prodigy Ishmael in the Farrelly Bros. 1996 classic King Pin. But his performances of late have been less “funny ha-ha” than “funny strange.” Like, really strange. Quaid and his wife Evi were released from custody in Vancouver this week, after being arrested on a California warrant over allegations they were illegally squatting on a property they once owned. (Why released? Turns out Evi’s dad might have been born in Canada, leaving the couple’s legal status in on-the-lam limbo.) Ill-advisedly (but not surprisingly), Randy made a statement to reporters, and it was surely one of the more oddly disturbing tracts ever read in public. Charity forbids making too much fun of it, and sanity forbids taking it too seriously—the guy claims that he is the target of “star-whackers” out to slander him, wreck his career and eventually murder him, just as they have already done to the likes of Chris Penn, Heath Ledger and David Carradine . But let’s take a closer look at just one element of his statement—the part where he vehemently claims that he and Evi are not criminals, and “nor are we crazy.” This is a classic case of parroting the negative—something we consistently warn against in our media training here at Veritas. It’s understandable enough: when someone says you are something nasty, your first instinct is to categorically say you are not that something. But the instinct is usually wrong, at least in media situations. For one thing, it’s a missed opportunity—typically you want to talk about what you are, not what you aren’t. More importantly, when everyone thinks you’re something bad, just saying you’re not doesn’t really cut it—it just feeds skepticism. (Think of Richard Nixon ’s unintentional epitaph, “I’m not a crook.”) And once you say it, you own it. His actual statement read, in part, “We are not criminals, nor are we fugitives from justice, nor are we crazy. We are just artists and film-makers…” Doesn’t matter: the headlines read “We’re not crazy – Quaid” and “Quaid: ‘I am not crazy or a criminal.’” Sure you’re not, Ishmael… Sure you’re not.

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