REVELATIONS

People around these parts have the strange tendency to think that the phrase "Will it play in Peoria?" is cute and charming. This is unusual, of course, inasmuch as it is an entertainment industry way of saying, "Will stupid people like this?" The city is far more famous for that and has been for a while; Ambrose Bierce wrote in his Devil's Dictionary:

DULLARD, n. A member of the reigning dynasty in letters and life. The Dullards came in with Adam, and being both numerous and sturdy have overrun the habitable world. The secret of their power is their insensibility to blows; tickle them with a bludgeon and they laugh with a platitude. The Dullards came originally from Boeotia, whence they were driven by stress of starvation, their dullness having blighted the crops. For some centuries they infested Philistia, and many of them are called Philistines to this day. In the turbulent times of the Crusades they withdrew thence and gradually overspread all Europe, occupying most of the high places in politics, art, literature, science and theology. Since a detachment of Dullards came over with the Pilgrims in the Mayflower and made a favorable report of the country, their increase by birth, immigration, and conversion has been rapid and steady. According to the most trustworthy statistics the number of adult Dullards in the United States is but little short of thirty millions, including the statisticians. The intellectual centre of the race is somewhere about Peoria, Illinois, but the New England Dullard is the most shockingly moral.

People who see themselves as cultural, financial, or educational elites think very little of The Common Folk. Always have, always will. Hell, even people who are demonstrably dumb as a post think they are smarter than everyone else. If this shocks you, you are among the post-like. Powerful Hollywood people cannot believe the shit Average Americans will pay to watch and listen to. The guy who runs McDonald's probably refuses to eat the slop he's trying to sell to rubes. And yes, to the feigned shock of millions of Obama-addled conservatives this past week, our political leaders think we have the intellectual capacity of a potted plant coupled with the attention span of a goldfish.

If one thing has distinguished conservatives over the years it is their deep and profound respect for the wisdom of the masses and the average voter, right? Yeah I'm pretty sure that's correct. They talk about it all the time, I think.

Feigned outrage and equally feigned worship of Salt of the Earth, Hard Working Americans are so central to the Republican playbook at this point that it would be a shock if they weren't banging the drum as hard as they are right now over a years-old video featuring an academic who was anything but the "architect of Obamacare." While your uncles and the cast of Fox & Friends are busy acting shocked – shocked, I tell you – at the idea of a highly-paid consultant who thinks most people are morons (an assertion that is pretty easy to prove empirically), ask yourself how likely you would be to believe him if he said "American voters are very wise." Wouldn't seem terribly sincere, would it?

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25 Responses to “REVELATIONS”

  1. zebbidie Says:

    If you want to mock the poor for being poor, just laugh at the evidence of the lack of money their poor parents spent on their children's orthodontics. Shit's hilarious.

  2. Xynzee Says:

    If there's a better example of pure f-wittery by the voting public than the last Australian federal election I'm all ears—ok Italy, and Canada had a chance to get rid of Harper, what happened there? I can only think of very few people—as in one hand—who voted Bunny in are not regretting their mistake. They are absolutely stunned by the policies he's enacted.

    I understand how some topics can distract voters from more important issues, or their information channels are clogged with lies/propaganda, and quite frankly some people are not very bright or lazy—even on our side I often see the same type of laziness/lack of critical thinking. I know I can be intellectually myopic.

    The day we can put all of the Telephone Hygenist 3rd Class on a ship out of the solar system in the event of Earth coming under attack from a space goat the better. Though we may want to maintain a small contingent just in case.

  3. c u n d gulag Says:

    America is a funny country.

    Or, it would be.

    If I didn't live here…

  4. Anubis Bard Says:

    The outrage among the spinners may be feigned, but I hope some political scientist is doing a study on the psychology of outrage, because it's the defining characteristic of this era of political discourse. Right, left and libertarian, the only energy any more that politicians can harness seems to be outrage (which isn't an infinite resource). The Republican success – despite a proven inability to deliver on anything resembling good governance – is that they have built all their favorite policy-talk upon a foundation of outrage – immigration, crapping on the poor, uppity women and browns, thwarting foreigners and elites, and so on. Democratic leaders are more scatter-brained – filling our news feeds with tales to outrage us, but giving us little to do with that except vote against Republicans. Progressive policies tend to be built upon a foundation of hope and generosity and faith that we can collectively solve problems through community and government. But since that kind of energy seems to be in short supply these days, they give us outrage instead. Outrage is about extremes; it's about failure and betrayal; it's fantasizing about destruction and comeuppance. And it's not working to build a constructive political anything.

  5. Anonymouse Says:

    In the last election, the governor's position was up for grabs between a guy who believe in education, and a developer who wants to cut taxes. What's the biggest quality-of-living problem in my state? Rampant over-development and infrastructure disintegration from lack of maintenance and excessive wear-and-tear from overdevelopment. So who did the idiots in my state elect? The developer. And I'm sure they'll be just OUTRAGED when he sticks to his course of deferring maintenance in favor of continuing to over-develop.

  6. Emerson Dameron Says:

    Having worked in Hollywood, I must take issue with the idea that my city's Elites are knowingly and condescendingly shoveling schlock on their flyover cousins.

    It came to me during a chat with a guy who worked on the film Happy Feet: This is the stuff H-Wood execs actually enjoy watching. If they wanted to make Goddard films, they would, and they would likely lose less money than they do on a lot of their "Blockbusters." They produce this shit because it conforms to their own extremely pedestrian tastes.

    The Venn Diagram representing Dullards and Elites is much smaller than some would imagine, especially in showbiz.

  7. SeaTea Says:

    @Anubus Bard. Wow. Well-said. Something I hadn't considered.

  8. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @Anubus Bard @SeaTea

    Hofstadter would be an excellent place to start, but who would fund another iteration of that anti-capitalist bleeding-heart nonsense?

  9. Mo Says:

    I R 2 smrt!

  10. Skepticalist Says:

    The Peoria reference also has its place in television of 1950s when it increasingly became national rather than confined to New York City. It was thought a lot of it wouldn't appeal to mid westerners and that they wouldn't "get" traditional ethnic humor (read them there Jews) and stage production that was more or less confined to the coasts. It was too good for them. There is some truth to it.

    Steve Allen wrote about the the increasing lack of critical thinking and dumbing down of America. He had no idea of how bad it's become. Right-wingers count on it and realize that because of it, it's easy and useful to turn every debate into abortion-style ravings.

  11. anotherbozo Says:

    I vacillate between contempt for the American people for their laziness, dishonesty and gullibility and sympathy for them as victims of the moneyed interests' concerted efforts them to keep them stupid. Pols as smart as Barney Frank, not to mention Lincoln, insisted on their faith that Americans will come around sooner or later. Later, in any case, may be too late.
    My latest blog discovery is an American conductor/composer living in England. He neatly summarized the recent voter debacle in an article emphasizing something else, but this was pretty concise:
    "The most commonly diagnosed cause of all this rage and dis-function is the lack of economic opportunity and hope since the 2007-8 economic collapse. The persistence of economic hopelessness extracts a terrible toll on any society. Hans Gál called unemployment the worst catastrophe that can happen to any society. He was speaking of inter-war Germany and Austria, and we all know how that turned out.

    One of the many tragedies of our difficult age is the way in which so many individuals act against not only against the interests of their fellow human beings, but against their own. People vote for politicians whose policies will impoverish and imperil them. People embrace ideologies, such as the mass-scale rejection of basic scientific knowledge, which will ultimate damage their health and make their environment unsafe to live in. People support a gun culture that puts them and their children in mortal danger for no reason. Even at the most extreme, the jihadist who bombs a plane or the mass shooter who attacks a school are both acting in ways that harm themselves.

    I strongly believe that these kinds of widespread and frightening self-destructive behaviours are indicative of not only a lack of economic health and opportunity (although the corrosive impact of economic hopelessness is hard to overstate), but of a general feeling of defeat and despondency that comes from being unable to understand and engage with the challenges facing the world.

    I think some (huge) portion of the responsibility for this depth of despair and hopelessness must lie with our media and entertainment culture…"

    The whole entry is here:
    http://kennethwoods.net/blog1/2014/06/11/beethoven-and-the-big-mac-art-in-the-age-of-junk-culture/

  12. jestbill Says:

    So much vincible ignorance here.

    Someone once shouted "Liberte, egalite…" whatever. Like it or not, that's a human/humanist bedrock bumper sticker philosophy. If someone asks if it will play in Peoria they are asking if middle America will watch. They are (at least) pretending that Americans are more alike than not. People in Peoria see themselves as the American middle. They are not insulted by that.

    Further, if they were insulted what would you expect them to do about it? Have you never heard of the Fat Acceptance movement? Black Power? The Gray Panthers?

    Republicans use outrage as a technique. The actual strategy is to turn elections into tribal affairs. My tribe has more members than your tribe so nyaa nyaa.

    Once you get people to vote with their tribe, you don't need to have sane goals. You don't need to worry whether people will vote against their best interests because you know they will vote with their tribe come what may.

    The Occupy movement was an attempt to form new tribal arrangements. Too bad the old tribes didn't see any advantage in change.

  13. anotherbozo Says:

    @jestbill: more in your comment than in most blogs. Damn, but I do love concision.

  14. svnski Says:

    @anotherbozo Thanks for the link to that blog post. One of the best things I've read on the internet (outside G&T, of course) for a while.

  15. Daphne Says:

    Thank you for reminding me of the word "dullard." I needed a new one to describe some of the trolls on the website I frequent.

  16. bjk Says:

    So the scowl-faced mulletheads got what they deserved, good and hard. This is today's left for you. If you oppose Obamacare, you're a scowl-faced mulletheaded idiot. And likewise if you support it.

  17. ohioyoyo Says:

    This brought to mind Mencken's "Nobody every went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people", then I remembered Rupert Murdock was already a billionaire before he brought his propaganda machine to the U.S. Peoria has plenty of company. I live in a place that just rewarded Boehner with 67% of the vote. (At least there actually was a Dem. candidate this cycle.) They're all Republicans for the same reason they're all Bengals fans. No point explaining how they're voting against their own interests, or that this GOP is not their grandfather's GOP. Small solace that this isn't the only place dominated by dim-wits. It's nice to come here for a little intelligent discourse.
    BTW, my thanks, too, for the Kennith Woods link.

  18. Ursula Says:

    jestbill's point bears repeating:

    Once you get people to vote with their tribe, you don't need to have sane goals. You don't need to worry whether people will vote against their best interests because you know they will vote with their tribe come what may.

    Except "tribe" is too generous. Cult is the more appropriate word.

  19. Gerald McGrew Says:

    "The guy who runs McDonald's probably refuses to eat the slop he's trying to sell to rubes."

    Funny how, of all the things in the post, this struck a nerve with me. While in high school I worked at a national fast food burger joint (not McDonald's) and when we took our lunch break and made our own food, it was actually very, very good. Cook the patty individually, lightly season it, toast the bun, put only fresh toppings on, and it was as good as any gourmet burger I've had since.

    It's when you make 100 at a time and let them sit for 30 minutes that they become the crap the "rubes" eat.

    Anyways…sorry to divert…

  20. Kevin Says:

    "You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons."

  21. Barry Says:

    Anubis Bard Says:

    "The outrage among the spinners may be feigned, but I hope some political scientist is doing a study on the psychology of outrage, because it's the defining characteristic of this era of political discourse. Right, left and libertarian, the only energy any more that politicians can harness seems to be outrage (which isn't an infinite resource). "

    No. The – not the left, which we don't have, but liberals – became outraged when the right stole the Presidency, and then proceeded to f*ck the country (and the world) good and hard.

    The right is outraged by liberals and centrists trying to fix the country, keep things running, and improve it a bit.

    Both Sides Do No Do It.

  22. Lex Says:

    Re Canada and Harper.

    The short version is that the Liberals had Michael Ignatieff as their leader for the last election. Canadians were not willing to have a PM who thought invading Iraq was a good idea and that torture is ok, and who had lived at that point more than a third of his life outside Canada.

    The Liberals suffered a historic defeat. This, combined with the collapse of the Bloc Québécois, left the Conservatives with a majority and the NDP as opposition.

    Harper took this as a mandate, which it was, but started doing stupid stuff, and is now not well liked. Our next PM will likely be named Trudeau.

  23. Xynzee Says:

    @Lex: thank you for the background. I couldn't understand how Harper went from a "no confidence" motion to retaining his leadership.

  24. moderateindy Says:

    1st, both sides do in fact "do it". The difference; however, comes in the form of proportionality. And the outrage, and batcrap crazy gap between the left, and right is up there with the income gap between the 1%, and the bottom 50. Hence we get the rights second favorite tactic, after the faux outrage gambit, the false equivalency ruse.
    As far as the intelligence of Americans go…..think about someone that you know that you consider to be of average intelligence, and then remember, half of all people are dumber than that guy! Scary, isn't it?
    There is, however way more at work than brains when it comes to whether or not you vote D, or R. I know many really bright, kind human beings that, for whatever reason, ignore facts, statistics, and reason, and vote for the current incarnation of Republicans anyway.
    Also, don't discount the power of indoctrination. I use to drive all over the midwest from Iowa to western West Virginia, up to MN, and down to MO and TN, and on the public airways all there was to listen outside of decent sized cities was right wing radio, or Jeebuz stations. Likewise, go into any public area, restaurants, hotels etc., and it is always Fox News all the time.
    In the end I think we are slowly lurching towards the scenario from the movie Idiocracy. After all, more than one show currently on TV could easily have it's title changed to "Ouch My Balls".