We Americans pride ourselves on sophistication without evidence. Take any “on-the-street” interview. Does the ignorance of the pedestrian amuse you? Beware the flagrant lapse of education and awareness. Apparently, we stopped requiring and inspiring “common” knowledge thirty or more years ago.
We have become a sort of third-world country in terms of awareness; clowns of not-so-funny, serious lapses of informed smarts.
A television sampling of instant interviews prior to the recent eclipse was a frightening display of the absence of even elementary information and knowledge about the nature of our planet, our solar system, our universe. We were supposed to laugh at these peoples’ abject ignorance.
What a condemnation of our education system, and any ill-informed populism we might engender. Finite knowledge, and unbounded ignorance go hand-in-hand with fascism, and other forms of mindless collectivism.
A glaring, and shocking example of this growing surrender to rude “democracy,” is the recent Fox News segment, “Next Revolution,” with Steve Hilton. He calls it “positive populism,” I call it a thinly clad predecessor to the failed notion of communism. We have entered a dangerous period of power without knowledge. A democracy of fools is a vast and dangerous mob, incited by the slightest of mistaken thoughts and gossip.
Harlequins were clever, cultural foils for royal courts of yore. They raised obvious points of regal stupidity through not-always-subtle, but carefully-clad humor, and thinly-disguised ridicule.
I fear that we Americans have become so arrogant, so conceited, so vainglorious, that we cannot see the truths in the humor of our harlequins.
For quite a while, papers such as the National Enquirer were the only place a reader could find out about the conception and birth of the extraterrestrial, alien children of movie stars.
“Enquiring Minds Want to Know,” led supermarket and drugstore shoppers to buy the tabloid for gossip and secrets of the rich and famous, celebrities, along with eyewitness tales of the occult and UFOs. It only took a dozen or so specious or craftily worded articles per week to keep the America Media publication flush with advertising revenue. No one cared about journalism, or retractions, or misspellings – entertaining fiction was all it was. They had a big enough budget to settle lawsuits and keep printing.
Now the ever-widening maw of the internet has spawned info-fantasy outlets to compete with reality. Exempli gratia: The recent articles about a couple of California “Breatharians,” who claim to live on “energy that exists in the universe and in themselves” and that they are sustained by “cosmic nourishment.” This must put the National Enquirer in the backseat of audacity. No fewer than six news outlets on Google News published the articles; YouTube videos of the couple and their two children have hundreds of thousands of views.
I will not honor this idiocy with more details, but I will shake my head at what the word “news” has come to mean. I shudder at the thought of how many people might believe such unfiltered, synthetic, mental trash. Our children are already screen zombies with waning connection to the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual worlds they inhabit. The gullible, undereducated, and socially diminished cohorts of the future may have little reality on which to build their lives.
The comedian Gallagher quipped, “I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence. There’s a knob called “brightness,” but it doesn’t seem to work.” That was before cable TV and the Internet.