Monday, August 10, 2009

It's people!

Look, it’s not ignorance I object to, it’s willful ignorance. Americans have made a religion of elevating their opinion, or their “gut,” to such an extent that it occupies the same rarified strata as the facts, and the worship of this religion of ignorance has gained such a foothold in American culture that its proponents were even able to propel their King of Dumbass Kings, George W. Bush, to the highest office in the land for 8 long, unabashedly and gleefully ignorant years.

But what do you expect from a country in which NASCAR drivers are admired as heroes, and activists like Al Gore are reviled as dorks and losers?

And before the liberal sniggering begins over the admittedly inexplicable worship by one half of this nation of dudes who excel at driving cars fast in a circle, let me propose a less popular target amongst the latte-swilling crowd: Lance Armstrong. Because the hero worship of Armstrong is such a typically American load of horseshit.

I have nothing against Armstrong personally. He seems to be very good at riding a bike. He also survived gonad cancer, which is great for him, but my point is that surviving a disease isn’t a selfless act. It is an act of immediate self-preservation. It may be inspirational for those who suffer from cancer, and perhaps those enamored of brightly-colored formulaic arm accessories, to recall Armstrong’s various feats of strength and stamina, but nothing he has ever done, including enduring the taunts of Frenchmen, will ever make the cancer of a single one of his fans go away. You know who might make cancer go away one day? Some dork. Some long-hour-working, incredibly smart and dedicated dork in a lab – just like the other smart dorks in different kinds of labs all over the world who are, at this very second, calling up Al Gore and saying “You know, this whole global warming thing is looking a little worse than we thought. Could you maybe make another documentary, or win another Nobel prize, because no one seems to give a shit. They’re all too busy watching alpha rednecks drive cars very fast in a circle, or wondering if Lance Armstrong emerged from the mountains with the yellow jersey.”

Maybe the global warming people should come up with their own stretchy colored bracelet. It could be green, to commemorate the color the earth used to be before the oceans rose and our civilization was reduced to the plot of a spectacularly bad Kevin Costner vehicle. I’m not sure what they should write on the bracelet, though. Lance’s says “LIVE STRONG.” Maybe theirs should say “HOLY FUCKING SHIT WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!”

Again, I’m not impugning Armstrong’s character. And I don’t mean to pick on athletes in general. Athletes, usually, just want to play and get paid. It’s our culture that worships or condemns them out of all proportion. And ultimately, it’s wrong to blame the fiddle for the incineration of Rome.

And speaking of allusions to the demise of a great civilization, if the McCain/Palin platform wasn’t the very embodiment of Nero fiddling, then I’m not sure what could possibly ever be.

Palin, the acknowledged heir apparent to the Dumbass crown, continues, long after the point when anyone should be listening to her, to yammer on about completely stupid, disingenuous self-serving crap. And her inexplicable worshipers – who apparently follow after her because she’s a mom*, or because she drops her Gs, or whatever stupid goddamn reason they follow her, continue to think that she makes sense. And why? Because – here we go again – they feel it. In their guts.

Well, maybe it’s better if they think back to their school days, back to when education perhaps actually meant something to them, and think what their teachers would’ve made of what passes for acceptable political discourse these days. Yeah, maybe they should ask their old English teachers what they think of Sarah Palin, because I’m pretty sure that the two words that won’t pass their lips in response are “makes sense.”

Goddamn but the whole country seems addicted to dumbassery these days, whether it’s the fucking stupid old people who think that now that Charlton Heston is dead, the US government is finally free to initiate Operation Soylent Green, and euthanize their moronic asses under the guise of healthcare reform, or the comically enraged white dudes who believe all the congressional and radio and TV yammerers who say that Obama and Sotomayor are racists.

Yes, they’re my favorite dumbasses of all, those who refuse to see that an acknowledgment of the struggle is not an endorsement of favoritism. But then, the only thing those old white dudes have to struggle with is to not say the N word when their mike is live.

I dunno, though, we’re all so invested in the ignorant and the dumbass, how can we just give it up, cold turkey? How can we put down the reality television and the Fox News and the “Transformers” franchise just like that? And what would happen to Christianity, if people stopped attributing the outcomes of their lives to a mythical being, and believed that their own actions had the power to move us all forward? Would the world crumble? I mean, more than it already is?

Stay tuned, readers. The pendulum may have reached the furthest point on its dumbass swing, which, if true, means we may finally be on the verge of an age of enlightenment. We may, as a collective human society, finally begin the essential movement forward and away from our own destruction.

Or not. You know. What the fuck do I know? All I know is that I am beat, and besides, all those episodes of “Bridezillas” on my DVR aren’t going to watch themselves.

*Like there's never been an ignorant one of those.


jadedj said...

Well maybe you have something here. Maybe the pendulum has peaked...and maybe there is hope...and maybe people are starting to...



Moi said...

I believe you should win a prize just for writing this: "fucking stupid old people who think that now that Charlton Heston is dead, the US government is finally free to initiate Operation Soylent Green, and euthanize their moronic asses under the guise of healthcare reform."

Lance Armstrong - or his "fans," really - have been pissing me off for years.

historically speaking, the Age of Enlightement (aka Reason, Rationality, and the beginning of science as we know it, not to mention the founding of this fab country by a bunch of semi-atheists) followed some pretty serious dumbassery in the form of Cromwell (a good stand in for the far right here) and then Charles II, who really has no contemporary parallel except... maybe Homer Simpson.

so if history is any kind of precedent, maybe there's hope. the only trouble is, we'll all be dead by the time the pendulum swings far enough away from DUMBASS to satisfy me.

SFNative said...

A friend of mine has a theory that he first outlined for me, when he began to notice the exponential ignorance growth, That was about ten years ago.

He says that the cause of people's stupidity is Forest Gump. It sounds far-fetched but when you hear him tell it, it kind of works

Basically, Forest Gump was a guy who wasn't smart, yet was responsible for or was involved in all of the interesting things that happened in the second half of the 20th Century. By the 90s, people were tiring of the responsibilities that came with expanded knowledge and access to information. Along comes Gump and these people find all they had to do was regurgitate dullisms like “life is like a box of chocolate” and “stupid is as stupid does” and they would be allowed join other equally exhausted people in their rabid pursuits of ignorance.

Sarah Palin is the next step in that de-evolution. She's just like Forest Gump only she's real.

In short, being dumb is cool. Forest and Sarah say so. Come join us.

My friend probably explains it better.

Some Guy said...

I know I'm beyond redundant at this point, but I savor every post you write. After those eight dreadful years of dumbassery run rampant, I had hoped we might finally be coming to our senses. Like you, I hope we've turned the corner, but I never underestimate the power of ignorance.

Spooney said...

I wonder how much CO2 is added to the atmophere every year by those dumbass cars driving around in circles. Does anyone think about that?

Grant Miller said...

You are my favorite blogger. You and Markos Moulitsas. And me.

Actually, Me, you and Markos. In that order. But you get the idea.

Did you see Bill Maher's article I believe Monday at HuffPo? Excellent piece as well, and I don't even like him much.

If you make one of those bracelets, I'm buying. Many of them.

Anonymous said...

You can be frustrated at ignorant people and hate on yellow fundraising bracelets (their very existence, like magnetic yellow ribbons for cars) is all that is evil in a world full of sweatshops and cheap plastic things that sit in landfills. But I don't think you can hate on Lance and embrace Al.

If Al is the universal elementary school teacher for global warming and cheerleader for researchers, scientists and advocates who are working too hard to do the PR themselves, Lance is the exact same thing for cancer research.

He is a living example of survival and a fundraiser for the cause, and that includes getting NASCAR loving folks to cough up a dollar or two for a yellow bracelet, whether you think these people are ignorant racists or not. (Not all of them are.)

Lance isn't the kind of person I'd necessarily want to hang out with but did you see him race in Le Tour this year? He came in third and is about 12 years older than the guy who came in first. And if they weren't on the same team, Lance probably would have finished second. And possibly would have taken first. These guys race 2,000 miles in three weeks, through the Pyrenees and the Alps, reaching speeds upwards of 50 mph during some very dangerous downhills. They burn between 5,000-8,000 calories a day.

And Lance is the dinosaur of the tour - competing at the age of 38!

So I'll continue to root for his dedication to fitness, his commitment to his sport, and to his ability to beat guys who are more than a decade younger than him. And it doesn't hurt that he helps raise millions of dollars for cancer research.

xo, your friend in Somerville, who loves cycling, fitness, eating sustainably, reducing my carbon footprint (despite my paper towel addiction), lattes and some people who are trying to use their powers for good,


SkylersDad said...

I don't see it so much as a pendulum that is going to swing back slowly, I see it as a huge rubber band that is being stretched to the limit. And it is going to snap and come back at us and leave one hell of a mark.

Anonymous said...

We need to send out more UAWs, ACORNs, Black Panthers, and SEIUs to beat some sense into those people who mindlessly oppose the President's Health Care Plan.

We also need to ammend the First Ammendment to prevent its abuse by right wingers.

Harry Reid, whose usefullness is over, is very brave to refuse medical care for his Prostate Cancer to show his solidarity with the principles behind the President's Health Care Plan.

vikkitikkitavi said...

@Anonymous - sarcasm FAIL.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I used to think our country was so great because an athlete can make a good living at their sport, until it got out of hand... and after it became clear that women aren't in the same salary pool... and after my time had passed to ride that meal ticket, now I just think it's silly.

LOL at Bridezillas.

vikkitikkitavi said...

@Cathy: Actually, I am aware that not all NASCAR fans are ignorant racists. However, a huge majority of ignorant racists are NASCAR fans. Nevertheless, I'm not implying causality either way.

And I got nothing against Lance, except that he is way overexposed and he needs to stop dating famous people so I don't have to look at his face in gossip magazines anymore. Other than that, as I said, you can't blame the fiddle for the fall of Rome. Lance seems like a fine individual and I applaud his work raising money for cancer research. My point is merely to contrast the kind of people our society worships, and the kind it doesn't, and to suggest that those values might be a teensy bit misplaced.

Dad E said...

When I hear the loud, hate-filled, raucous, stupid yammerings of prideful ignorance I wonder where our country is going. I'm afraid to dismiss them because they were the backbone of the great self-righteous evil of the Bush years. I believe their minds are full of poison that will seep into their bodies causing them to die of cancer prematurely, but can we stand up to their onslought before they do?

If the media would report the latest Palin outburst with the headline "Palin falsely describes the proposed health insurance reform plan", it would help bring a ray of hope. Where is the outrage? How do we find the symbalism shown by the black gloves raised on the Olympic stand to cause serious look to be taken to expose these scoundrels?

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to take you off topic - I know the bigger issue has more to do with the bracelet buyers and people who continue to drive fucking SUVs.

Regarding Lance - I don't read gossip magazines or have him as a friend on Facebook, so I'm completely and blissfully ignorant of his relationship status.

And there are some individuals who are Lance lovers and do more than buy bracelets. Hopefully this will help illustrate that there are good citizens in this country:


Johnny Yen said...

I have the advantage of the perspective of parenthood, and dealing with infantile tantrums (long ago, fortunately). When they're screaming, demanding their way, you take over with the calm adult behavior. Don't forget-- they're a minority now. That's why they're angry. They've gotten their way before with bullying, and it's not working anymore, and so they're escalating it. Trust me, eventually they tire of it, go pout in a corner, and come out when it's time for dinner.

Michael said...

What I love most about your blogging -- for today, at least -- is how you nail issues that, for one reason or other, never quite make it to my own conscious thoughts.

Lance Armstrong symbolizes something for a lot of people, yes. He does not "do" anything to cure cancer, but he gives some people a reason to keep hope. That's worth something, I suppose.

What I am more disgusted by are people who mistake the celebrity of Lance Armstrong for the example of Lance Armstrong. When I see someone like Brad Pitt, who I doubt has ever had to wonder when he's going to eat again, stumping for ONE, I'm irritated at the idea that by knowing who Brad Pitt is and what he stands for, it somehow means something more to send money in the direction he asks you to. Or that having one's awareness raised is practically the same as doing real work.

We have no shortage of people who aspire to leadership by doing nothing more than saying the right things at the right time. Lance Armstrong has earned his platform by his experience, I think, but it is still not like doing the things that made his recovery possible. It wasn't the man and his willpower alone, but people want to believe that. He also had the means, the access, and the stature that for some people made him Worth Saving (cf. Mickey Mantle). I am sure he'd be quick to acknowledge those advantages, if asked. But he won't, because people don't want to know who actually set up the spaceship travel from Krypton to Earth. They just want to get a picture with Superman.

Zoe Wiseman said...

i love your * usage.

dguzman said...

Bravo, Vikki--and that pendulum just keeps on swinging toward DUMBASS. I think the fucker's just broken.

Anonymous said...

Ignorant moms? Now there's a subject I know a little something about.

Dad E said...

Robert Noval just died of brain cancer. Seems like the cancer was located in the right place.

Liberality said...

Dad E lol! Vikki-it pains me to know how right you are. My heart grieves the loss of so much but I just don't see us, as a species, suddenly becoming non-violent and wise, caring and sharing. Too many powerful people, with the means needed to enforce their will, won't allow it. And that's where it's political alright! But too many are brainwashed, by well paid manipulators of the human psyche, and so we are doomed. Tell me I'm wrong!