What is it about stupidity that America seems to love so much?
This glorification of stupidity has been consistently promulgated by films like Dumb and Dumber, Legally Blonde, Dude, Where's My Car, Idiocracy, Borat and - god help me - Forrest Gump. We Americans love stoopid peepul. As much as I enjoy the series Eureka, it's telling that in a town full of geniuses, the schtick is that it’s the not-genius sheriff (at least he isn't portrayed as a slapstick idiot) who usually solves the problem by either shooting it, whacking it with a stick or driving his Jeep into it. The geniuses are stereotyped as bumbling, socially inadequate, skinny, malformed, couldn't get laid if their Nobel Prize depended on it geeks. (Not helped that Bill Gates fits the physical profile). Real life geniuses, like John Forbes Nash, are presented as more cautionary tales - See? See? That's what happens if you get too smart, you become paranoid and go insane. Told ya so. Pass the popcorn, Ma...
Stupidity in politics didn't start with Dubya, however exemplary he is as the ultimate manifestation of incompetence and malevolent stupidity. Nor did it start with the tea-baggers holding up misspelt signs as they march to proudly display their ignorance and pointlessness. It’s endless, just endless…
It's ingrained in the American popular and political culture to exult stupidity and tear down intelligence. Adlai Stevenson's 1956 bid for the presidency was scuppered because he was denigrated by Republicans for being 'too smart', called an 'egghead' as a scathing pejorative, the distrust for intelligence is deep rooted in our history.
Stupid people aren't leaders, they're not even followers. They're the Marching Morons. They're the Eloi to the Morlocks of Coulters, Rushes, Limbaughs, Savages, Hannitys, et. al., who cultivate and nurture their hordes of the slavishly stupid, then feed off them mercilessly. It’s the bread and butter for the Malkins who can claim millions – millions I tells ya! – turned up for the 9/12 marches, then used photos from the inauguration to fraudulently bolster the lie, fully aware her multitude of mindless minions will never bother to check – or ever realize it was all a lie, that a mere few thousand at most showed up, all that empty lawn speaking volumes. (*crickets chirping*) It doesn’t matter to the Malkinoids and the Coulterites if they’re caught out, time and time again, their dishonesty exposed, their self-serving agendas flapping in the breeze like dirty underwear on a clothesline – they depend on the dedication of their supporters to stupidity. They trust in that entrenched compulsion to not-want-to-know, they know they can always rely on those antithetical sycophants of hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, but sure as hell spout off a load of uninformed, boorish, and – so sadly – ultimately self-defeating crap.
I come from a generation where women were struggling to break out of the Stepford Wife, I Dream of Jeannie, Father knows Best stereotypes that held us back - I once had a date kick me out of his car late at night on a deserted country road and had to walk 15 miles home, because I was going to college and had used a word he didn't understand; he felt so threatened by his own ignorance that he took out his inferiority complex on me. I refuse to dumb-down my vocabulary, for anyone, for any reason. I was warned by my family and friends that I would never find a husband if I were openly 'too smart' - men don't like 'too smart' women, they said. They were perplexed that I didn't care; why the hell would I marry anyone stupid enough to want someone more stupid than themselves? And yet… it still goes on. And on … And on...
I loathe stupid people. I loathe them because, unlike those genuinely afflicted with mental illness or disorders, stupid people willfully choose their stupidity. They revel in it, they venerate it, they wrap themselves in it tighter than an American flag and subject their children to the same brainwash-rinse-repeat that incited parents to prevent their children from listening to the first truly educated and articulate president this country has had since perhaps Lincoln tell them to get an education. Horrors, that might cause them to actually learn how to think for themselves, and become Atheists and Communists and Liberal Undesirables. Catchy, that, innit?
So it is hard for me to reconcile this mass approbation of blatant stupidity with the achievements we Americans have given to the world. We as a nation and as a culture have had so many shining, glorious moments where stupidity was forced to STFU. We put a man on the moon - several, in fact - and it was the Failure Is Not An Option inventiveness that got Lovell, Swigert and Haise back to earth alive. We split the atom. We invented the light bulb, the telephone, the airplane, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.
We invented the circular saw, the electric hot water heater, the elevated railway system, the engine muffler, the fire escape, Kevlar, the life raft, the medical syringe, the railway crossing gate, the rotary engine, the submarine telescope, the windscreen wiper – all inventions by American women, by the way.
We Americans invented airbags and autopilots, bubblegum and bulldozers, the credit card, dental floss, the flashlight, the Hubble telescope, laser printers, microwave ovens, the particle accelerator, the QWERTY keyboard, radar guns and radio carbon dating, the sextant, the supermarket, the space shuttle, and the sewing machine, volleyball and videotape and the zipper. We invented the Taser, the teddy bear, the traffic cone and – yes – even the tea bag.
We invented the Internet.
We invented the blog.
Educated, creative, intelligent Americans can, have done, and are still capable of doing amazing things. If only we could find a way to invent a cure for stoopid peepul.