Thanks to Roger for pointing me in the direction of this one. Even more interesting than The Lost Boy Vs The Token White Boy, this week saw Max Gogarty Vs The World. Who is Max Gogarty, you might ask? He’s a 19-year-old chap from London who occasionally writes for the UK TV show Skins (I’ve never watched it). Max landed a gig blogging for the Guardian about his gap-year trip to India and Thailand.
Max is a typical middle-class kid who aced his A-levels and has taken a gap year to do the Asian thing. It took just a few hours for his first blog post to descend into farce. Writing about preparing for his trip, Max attracted the scorn of hundreds of Guardian readers. Comments were closed as they reached 475.
So what was it about Max’s blog post that angered people so much. Firstly, there was some controversy about Max’s father, Paul Gogarty, who has in the past been a freelance writer for the Guardian. Commenters were quick to accuse the Guardian of nepotism. Then there was Max’s post itself. Here are a few excerpts:
I'm kinda shitting myself about travelling. Well not so much the travelling part. It's India that scares me. The heat, the roads, the snakes, Australian travellers. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited. But shitting myself. And I just know that when I step off that plane and into the maelstrom of Mumbai – well, actually, I don't know how I'll react.
I'm not entirely sure what appeals to me about travelling. Maybe the lack of work or study? The mayhem? The imagined company of beautiful girls … all very good reasons to travel. And whether I'm right or not, I'm pretty sure it'll be a world away from cowering under an umbrella at the 134 bus stop.
To be fair to Max, he didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t deserve the torrent of abuse that was hurled at him. However, I think the Guardian made a mistake in commissioning the blog in the first place. It’s hard to judge the blog now that it’s received so much negative coverage, but the blog was mundane from the offset.
As for Max’s father getting Max the gig: that was dismissed by the travel editor of the Guardian, who said:
No one snuck Max through the backdoor. I called him purely on the strength of his track record. On the back of his writing at his comprehensive school, he was invited on to a young writers' group at the Royal Court theatre, and since then he has worked as an occasional writer on the TV series Skins. I think that's pretty impressive for a 19-year-old.
Max will be in Thailand soon so maybe some of us will get to meet him. I'm usually not a fan of "gappers", but might make an exception in this case.