Entertainment Books Guinness World Records has just jumped the shark

Guinness World Records has just jumped the shark

Hugh Jackman always dreamed of holding a world record. Photo: Guinness World Record
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No disrespect to Hugh Jackman, but fair suck of the biggest sauce bottle ever: has the Guinness World Records lost the holy moly factor?

The beloved Aussie actor was just announced as an official entrant in the Guinness World Records 2020 book, for his stint as X Men character Wolverine, which lasted 16 years and 228 days.

He shares the record with Patrick Stewart, his co-star in the movie franchise, and it’s for having the longest careers as live-action Marvel superheroes. Come on, really? Who thought that up? It’s not like Hugh was lumbered with those mutton- chop whiskers and retractable claws for almost 17 years. (If that had been the record and he’d rocked up opposite Nicole Kidman in Australia with those silver talons, I’d pay it.)

Meanwhile, Alyssa Healy, the Australian women’s cricket team awesome wicketkeeper, has also earned a spot in the iconic record book. Hers was a genuine athletic feat: catching a cricket ball from the greatest height ever. It plummeted 82.5 metres from a drone hovering around the height of the top of the MCG’s light towers and it looks damn scary in the slick video of the attempt.

“We didn’t expect Alyssa to go as high as she did, she really smashed the previous record,” says official Guinness World Records (GWR) adjudicator Pete Fairbairn, who was in the centre (in a helmet, the only occasion in three years that he’s modified his uniform). “We couldn’t go any higher than that, it’s a no-fly zone!”

Healy also had a noble aim: The ICC’s T20 International Player of the Year was using her feat to tout a future world record attempt. At the T20 Women’s World Cup match at the MCG on March 8, 2020 – International Women’s Day – they’re going for the largest ever attendance at a women’s sporting fixture. She’s tooting that horn rather than her own.

“For now, I’m a Guinness World Records title holder, which means quite a lot,” said Healy.

Fairbairn, one of only three adjudicators covering the Asia-Pacific region and “about 30” in the world, says that while it’s definitely fun, they all take it very seriously.

“We can be put on an adjudication anywhere in the world for a record for all sorts of things … there are 50,000 active records in the database.”

Including Jackman’s new world record – essentially for showing up to his extremely well paid job. The ‘record’ date, by the way, was reached in March 2017, almost two years ago. How is this a real achievement?

“I disagree with that sentiment for any of the records,” says Fairbairn. “With the population the size it is on our planet, if you are the one person or group who does something no one else has done, you absolutely deserve the recognition.

“Whether it’s catching a cricket ball from the greatest height, being the longest-serving Marvel live-action hero or stacking cup noodles, it’s an amazing achievement and shows dedication and commitment.”

OK, Hugh’s record is adorable, just like him. But have the records overall  become a little too PC?

The GWR site acknowledges that there are a bunch of records that are “no longer monitored”. Out goes “unfettered gluttony”. Also nixed: “heaviest pets” (Australia held the title for the heaviest cat of all time, Himmy, owned by Thomas Vyse, and weighing in at 21.3 kilograms when it died on March 12, 1986, aged 10 years 4 months). The list goes on of freak show entries expunged from the book, over which so many of us tittered as tweens and teens.

“The world’s changed and we view a lot of things through a different lens than we did 10, 20, 30 years ago,” says Fairbairn. “Whether it’s the language we use, the sentiment or how we differentiate people. As with many organisations all over the world, Guinness World Records is prepared to do the right thing and move with the times, and that’s to be applauded.”

Step right up, Mr Fairbairn. You’re the smoothest GWR adjudicator ever. It’s a record!

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