Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2002 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763
The word "extreme," I believe, was first attached to certain specific
sports, such as snowboarding backward off an alp, tobogganing through an
avalanche while strapped to a bear, jogging naked in a blizzard with
your Adidas on fire, or leaping from an airplane at 35,000 feet using
only Kleenex for a parachute.
Unlike traditional sports, participants in these extreme athletics
tended to be less beefy, a little more wiry, with scraggly beards,
unkempt hair, and an implicit fondness for marijuana.
All that changed with the introduction of the XFL, which was supposed to
indicate a new kind of football, at once X-rated, kind of, and
"extreme," kind of, even though it was pretty much identical to regular
football, only the players weren't paid as much, and the cheerleaders
were skankier. America did not embrace the XFL. It, and Jesse Ventura,
headed into the sunset, taking the concept of "extreme" with it.
Sure, the term "extreme" is still around, but its meaning has been
utterly degraded. In the TV ads for the recent flop movie,
BALLISTIC: ECKS VERSUS SEVER, or EEK VERSUS SERVER, or whatever the hell
it was called, the spies were referred to as two "extreme" agents.
But movie spies are, as a rule, already generically extreme, are they
not? James Bond was, anyway, and Vin Diesel upped the extremity ante,
becoming a kind of blue collar Bond, with tattoos. So what made Antonio
Banderas and Lucy Liu so darn extreme, beyond appearing in a piece of
straight-to-video murky dreck, with explosions?
Now the word "extreme" has reached its nadir.
Grabbing a quick lunch at
Taco Bell the other day, I noticed an ad for something called an
"extreme quesadilla." Again, just two short years ago, I associated the
word "extreme" with a young person in voluminous pants bungee jumping
into a volcano. So what exactly makes this quesadilla extreme? Cheddar
cheese pushed to its limits? Sour cream driven to the edge of freshness,
and beyond? If we strapped the extreme quesadilla to a mountain bike and
dropped it into a pit of cobras, would it survive?
That's the real
question here, isn't it?
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales