Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Capacity for Stupid

The idealist in me would love to believe humans are high up in the intelligence chain. I'd love to see the world as enlightened, see our journey through life as one where we start out perceptive as children and learn so much as adults that we see the world truly by the time we meet our end.

My fiction--both the stuff I write and the stuff I love to read--is infused with this hope, that people can learn from mistakes, rise above their limitations, discover the world is more complex than they once believed, grow, and even teach each other so that the world as a whole is a better, more intelligent place.

But then, with a shock, I come back to reality. Honestly, all I need is a few sound bites from political candidates or potential voters, religious zealots or raving lunatics, who all seem to love news cameras, to realize that all people are not on the journey towards enlightenment.

Unfortunately, it gets worse and hits me closer to home. I woke this morning to find my children watching Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred and I cannot help but wonder who my children will be as adults. Right now, it seems their capacity for stupid things is unquenchable. They adored the first Fred movie. ADORED it. I found it so stupid it was unwatchable. And they loved it.

Will their capacity for stupid increase? Will they become one of the willfully ignorant, spewing utter nonsense because they have lost the ability to reason? Or will they grow out of their delight in the ridiculous and find logic a better companion? Will they ever be able to evaluate the world properly, or will they wallow in the inane? Certainly, most adult programming on television serves the tastes for stupid. Watch most reality TV and you'll see stupidity at work in nearly all of it. It's almost enough to lose hope.

All I can do is look back to my own childhood. With humility, I remind myself how addicted my siblings and I were to "Popeye" cartoons, and "Scooby-Doo," and "Smurfs." Somehow I turned out fine. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did, and I can only hope and pray that my children make the same leap, fulfilling my hopes for a world where at least some people can move beyond the stupid and embrace the intelligent.

What did you love as kids? Am I panicking over nothing? Are my children doomed? (Okay, don't answer that last question... since it's none of your business.) Really, what do you think?


  1. I think the fact that you seem to genuinely believe you "turned out fine" is probably the scariest part of this post! (That's a joke. Kidding.) I have to admit I watched too much Popeye too, and, as a result, I find myself getting periodic attacks of stupidity. I've stopped watching Smurfs and ALL politicians, and that has helped a little, but I still find I need to take heavy doses of Bill Mahr truth serum to keep me sobered up and intelligent. I wouldn't necessarily recommend Bill for impressionable children, though.

    This post was a bit of a change for you. I liked it.

  2. Things I remember watching and loving:

    Looney Tunes (and still do)
    Star Blazers (ancient anime)
    Wonder Woman
    Bionic Woman
    Star Trek

    You know, that really doesn't seem that bad. I watched other shows, mostly because I didn't have control of the TV, including Scooby Doo and the Smurfs, but I always hated them. Still do.