I’ve always pictured societal stupidity as a two-dimensional graph. I’m almost certain that one of those sides is labeled “self-importance”. The other is a mystery. At present, we are far down an asymptote, where parody is regularly confused with news, and politicians are confused with problem-solvers.
I’m not naive; I realize there is no such thing as “peak stupidity”.
I took great comfort in the television show Ancient Aliens. Not in the show itself, you understand, but in the mere fact that it existed. There is stupid, and then there is “ancient aliens stupid.” Ancient Aliens has the premise that alien beings have visited the world and guided or hindered human events throughout human history. They explain the theory with a healthy dose of supposition, followed by speculation and concluding with guesswork.
It’s like an episode of Law & Order: Pick Your Injustice, but with more legitimacy because they aren’t hiding their intentions.
They reuse anecdotes, theories, and video footage. There are twenty ideas and 180 minutes of video footage discussing these ideas, and they’ve stretched it out into 8 seasons, recycling the same ideas with a different context each episode. Yeah. Think about the advertising dollars supporting this show.
No matter how ridiculous things got in the real world, there was always the next level down in television world. Deep in my heart I had this theoretical notion that someday, somebody would come up with an even stupider show. Although sad, it would be an easy substitute. “It’s dumb, but it isn’t Ghost Yeti dumb,” I’d say.
That all changed when I discovered the Destination America channel. Wow, is that thing aptly named. My DVR was busy this weekend, and I’m now having an existential crisis. Remember, kids, television really does rot your brain.
In the movie Inception, the gang of loveable miscreants delve deeper and deeper into their victims’ mind in order to plant an idea that will change his entire outlook on life. The last level, the deepest, where time moves so slowly you forget it isn’t real, is called “unconstructed dream space.”
This is the horrible reality that awaits us beneath Ancient Aliens – unconstructed stupidity. It isn’t a graph at all, but an entire dimension. Somebody fell in. They clawed their way back out. They are probably running for president right now. And they left a hole, allowing the vapors to escape onto cable television. Today, we’re all laughing because it is just the Destination America channel. Well, Lifetime too. Probably MTV. Now that I think about it, Nickelodeon surely. We’ve totally lost control, pick a three-letter news network of your choice…
Thank goodness my safe space is fully stocked with paper, crayons, and Tequila. I’m off to write some therapeutic comics. Be afraid.