Hello Lovely Readers,
Since Tuesday’s completion of Draft #4 of The Voyage: Book Two of The Osteria Chronicles, I’m giving myself a little holiday from writing. But since I would hate to leave in a dark world without my words, I’ve dug up an old essay of mine on the dumbing down of America. It’s one of my favorites and I hope it gives you at least a little chuckle.
Dumbing Down…Please Stop It!
Stupid people may irritate me, but the catering to stupid people pisses me off. I suppose after living under the Bush Jr. Administration for eight years (the chill just went down my spine too) I should be used to stupidity and I should dim my light bulb a little to relate. Sorry, that’s just not me. I spent a long time cultivating my brain cells into the sarcastically witty, quick-thinking neurons they are today. But smarty pants that I am, I just don’t “get” the whole trend toward dumbness.
Example 1: TV game shows – Doing some exercises the other day, I turned on the boob tube for a bit. “Jeopardy” was on with the charismatic-in-a-nerdy-kind-of-way Alex Trebek. Questions were bouncing off the board like a racquetball in a tiny court. Within the 20 plus minutes the show was on the air, the contestants whipped through 61 questions relying only on the glob of matter between their ears.
Now switch to more “modern” games shows. In these half-hour bits of horror, people stumble over a single question for up to two minutes. (If there even is a question, sometimes they just have to pick a number. Really? You have to think that long about which number to pick?) If there is a question they dwell on it, muttering it over and over to themselves, asking the creepy-trying-to-be-funny host to repeat the question, and then, THEN, they get to have a kid or a friend or the audience help them with the damn question. And this is just getting past learning what the contestant’s name is! Over the course of the half-hour program the contestant is lucky to get through ten questions. Ten really easy questions. Proof that yes, the contestant is dumber than a fifth grader.
Example 2: TV Reality Shows – Okay, I’m not beyond watching “ordinary” people being thrown into socially stressful situations or watching Gordon Ramsey freak out at the wannabe chef who is sweating into the stock, but then the show goes to commercial. Returning to the show from the commercial break, the voice behind the scenes has to re-cap what happened before the commercial break. What idiot is this catering too? How short term do you think my memory is that I can’t remember what was happening two minutes ago? Even my cat remembers what’s been going on and he’s been licking his butt through the whole show. It’s not as if these are complicated plot lines and even if I tuned in late it wouldn’t take a great leap of logic to get a grasp on the story.
Example 3: The Four-Way Stop – I’ll step away from television and move onto driving. What happens to people’s IQ levels when they get into their little, or not so little, steel boxes? The four-way stop seems to be the equivalent of getting into MENSA for many drivers. The logic is simple – whoever gets there first goes first, should drivers arrive at the same time they are to yield to the right. This isn’t rocket science by any means. But what happens when I approach a four-way stop? They sit there. I’m half a block away, and they still sit there. That is until I start to proceed through the stop, figuring I want to get on with my life whereas this other person is content to while away their time contemplating the red octagon. The second I start to press the accelerator, they start to do the same. This isn’t Simon Says people! Rather than put air bag warnings on cars, I think they should put the four-way stop instructions.
Example 4: More on Cars (Moron Cars) – Cars now are equipped with a lot of silly stuff. GPS? What happened to knowing where you were going when you left the house? What happened to knowing how to read a map? Are drivers too dumb now to read or think ahead? Wait, don’t answer that.
Then, on the news the other day I saw a new warning system to remind you (yes, REMIND you) that your baby is in its car seat before you leave the wee bairn in the car when you get out. This is why an IQ test should be mandatory for anyone who wants to breed. Even on my most zoned out days I don’t even forget I’ve got my dog in the car. If you can’t remember that you’ve got a miniature human, one that you carted around in your belly for months and went through agony to expel out into the world, in your car with you, you are dumber than a bag of hammers. There are even people who think it’s necessary to mandate car manufacturers put these devices in cars. How about mandating that you have a brain in your head before getting in the car? That might be more pertinent.
Sure I may do some dumb things, but I don’t expect networks or car manufacturers to cater to my brain farts or Congress to pass laws because I’m forgetful on occasion. Instead, I learn from my mistakes, I read books, I keep the TV off and my butt out of the car as much as possible. It seems the smarter way to go.