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KATHERINE SHONFIELD

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Some time ago, incensed viewers of an obscenity-ridden programme featuring the Sex Pistols told how they were so outraged that they smashed up their television sets. This sparked off a correspondence in which readers attempted to outdo one another in illogical consequences to perceived offences. A classic example of the genre is the reaction to a McDonald's advert currently brightening up the evening schedule. This commercial features a poncily-clad designer declaiming in some quite sharp interiors that he is actually a 'life space architect' who 'makes something out of nothing', the punchline being a voiceover which tells us that by playing 'Money for Nothing' at McDonald's we too 'can make a load of money doing absolutely nothing at all'.

The consequence of this is that the president of the riba proposes to go bleating to the arb that here is a slur on the hitherto spotless escutcheon that is the public's perception of the architect. Laying aside the fact that an accurate orthographic section through a Big Mac might well reveal that McDonald's itself is no mean crafter of something out of nothing, surely the appropriate reaction is not affront but pleasure. E F Benson's Lucia, of Mapp and Lucia fame, had a nose for good publicity. Confronted at a public exhibition by a cartoon of herself depicted as an arch snob and social climber, she knew unerringly that she had finally made it. Caricature is the sincerest form of flattery; the inability to cope with people taking a rise out of oneself the most immediate sign of professional and personal insecurity.

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