Apart from the odd granny who was mad, my generation grew up with two other meanings of MAD. The first was benign and a lot of fun. I am referring to the monthly MAD magazine which, together with the Goon Show and Monty Python, I credit with helping us navigate the confusing modern world. It was launched in 1952 and at its peak in the mid-70s was selling 2 million copies. It satirised, parodied and lampooned movies and the political and cultural world around us with fantastic cartoons during the height of the nuclear war paranoia and the general culture of establishment’s censorship. In so doing, it provided a teething ring for future comedians, radicals and well-adjusted people too. Unfortunately, it fell on hard times and published its last edition in April 2018.
The other connotation of MAD was the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction which was a Mexican Standoff with nuclear weapons instead of revolvers in the cold war years. This fragile strategy proved successful in maintaining world peace and was allowed to atrophy to some extent after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, it has reared its radioactive head with the unstable Vladimir V. Putin, or MAD Vlad, threatening nuclear Armageddon, the first leader (apart from the Young Un) to do so since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. This is a weak and infantile reaction by someone who didn’t think things through properly, particularly what he wanted to achieve and what would be his exit strategy if things went wrong. He is now up the creek without a paddle and, with his old cold war foes and political opponents circling, his war chest is as bare as his heroic photos except for Russia’s nuclear arsenal – his ass in the hole.