In praise of ignorance
I’d been planning to post this for a while now, I watched it again a few times over the holiday weekend. The news about Heath Ledger threw me for a loop there, but maybe I could use a chuckle now.
Last week’s American Dad was a James Bond spoof titled “Tearjerker” and it was a pretty good episode. Not as good as Family Guy’s “Blue Harvest” but they definitely highlighted the classic elements of a Bond film, at least an old school one, and gave it a good comic turn. They even did a surprisingly good job on the intro, which is just Bond-esque as there are no vocals and the name of Francine’s character, Sexpun T’Come, is great especially during the WGA strike.
American Dad pretty much completes FOX’s hat trick for Sunday night moronic patriarch shows. You’ve got The Simpsons, where it took them until episode 257 to explain the root of Homer’s stupidity. Then there’s Family Guy where the main character Peter Griffin is pretty much as close as one can get to being a Homer Simpson pastiche as you can without being sued. On that show they didn’t bother with crazy reasons and just said that Peter was actually mentally retarded. In both of the shows, there’s now a standard reason why the characters’ behavior is so erratic, dumb and occasionally self-centered, it’s in their brains, while American Dad takes a different approach which I’m surprised they haven’t gotten into too much trouble for. Stan Smith is a die-hard America-loving right-wing conservative working for the CIA. This is the standard explanation given for his political views, sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia as well as also being self-centered, stubborn and often finding himself completely unable to cope with what everyone else around him finds to be completely standard parts of life.
All of these shows can very easily be hit or miss. I usually find they have very hilarious parts and great zingers but that overall they’re lacking the essence of funny. Many people I know absolutely cannot see the humor in the shows, much the same way that some people (like my mother) can’t understand the accents on BBC America. It isn’t that they don’t understand the humor, they see why it should be funny, but they’ve all too easily assimilated the primary premise, “Oh, the father is a moron, ha-ha-ha.” It’s something akin to suspension of disbelief, but maybe in this case it should be suspension of intelligence? Because if you don’t accept that for the most part, the other characters know this and cope, then very little of the show will be funny at all.
That got me thinking though… Wouldn’t it be so nice sometimes to just suspend our own intelligence and just be allowed to be “stupid”? When I was growing up, I was in the gifted classes, as were a lot of people I know and pretty much from that point on, you are branded as “smart”. And once out of school/college, you’d really have to work hard to not be seen as such. It comes out in your speech, your interests, your opinions. What you watch, what you read, what you casually talk about. It’s unavoidable! And sometimes, especially in DC, it’s kinda cultivated. I’m not talking about showing off, but some people just become that person others come to or are sent to with questions. As an example, at the office, Betsy and I are the people to come to. We’re the two that have been there both the longest and that have remained committed to the job, so we’re the sources for institutional knowledge. Most of the time, I don’t mind it since work’s gotta get done, but it would be so nice if sometimes I were able to turn that off. Not just in my own head, but to emit some form of detectable signal or pheromones that signal to others, “Oh, I can’t ask him that, why would he know?”
I was joking with Michael the other day about a crack-like drug that increased intelligence instead of giving a high — it’d be legal, controlled and expensive as all hell. But maybe I had it the wrong way ’round, and there needs to be a drug that is the embodiment of ignorance is bliss.
Oooh, look at the time! I gotta get dinner going and then catch The Simpsons to get my evening started. 😉