“If genius was an illness, you would be a hypochondriac”
“Everyone knows there ain’t no sanity clause”
The Cult of Stupidity is on the rise, with a new confidence and vigour. In the last two decades, creationism, conservatism, racism, xenophobia, aggression and scare-mongering have seemingly become a new, socially-acceptable, fashion accessory.
The Sixties gave rise to an unprecedented social revolution amongst the widest range of ages and social classes, where learning, mind-expansion, group awareness, political awareness, communal responsibility, and the responsibility of freedom were high (sic) on the agenda. A new awareness was heralded and welcomed, and the desire to educate and liberate was all-pervasive … “Teach Your Children Well” was the anthem of a long-haired revolution in thinking, caring and learning, and the attitude which fuelled this feeling of positivity and optimism was Hope … naive as it may now seem … pure, unadulterated Hope.
Hope for the future was possibly naive and undoubtedly drug-fuelled in many cases, but even in the face of a blooming awareness of our environmental problems, a horrific war in Vietnam, repressive laws, record levels of unemployment, and an unprecedented level of inflation and recession, we still held a positive attitude and a belief that we could still change the world, beat the system, and strive for that ever elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow … The Happy Ending.
Whatever happened to Hope? Whatever happened to a belief in The Happy Ending?
Well, as far as I can see, it was replaced by Pride.
A new attitude of selfish, uncaring, unreasoning, self-centred Pride … and, Pride for no good reason, at that.
“Proud of who I am, … and proud of what I am” … even if it’s shit.
You’ve heard it expressed on every reality show from “Big Brother” to “Wife Swap”, and from “X Factor” to “Question Time”
“I am what I am … that’s just me being me … it might seem stupid, but it’s my right as an individual to hold these opinions, and beliefs”
The Right To Be Wrong.
The Sixties new age of awareness also opened the doors for a conglomeration of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo and metaphysical flim-flam. In the same way that the political and social revolution of the sixties was subverted and dissipated by the commercial exploitation of its popularity and originality, the liberal, open-minded acceptance of new outlooks was equally exploited by every con artist and huckster, every well-intentioned zealot, every manipulative entrepreneur, salesman and politician who saw the money-making potential of that social naivety.
New Age commerce was born, and with it came a new sensibility or, to be precise, a new insensibility: The Right To Be Stupid. Not only The Right To Be Stupid, but also the glorification and adoration of the downright dumb.
During the 90’s, the hip-phrase that was flippantly bandied about was “the dumbing-down of television” – this emphasis was of course failing to predict that the Internet phenomenon would rapidly supercede TV’s dominance and escalate dumbing-down to supersonic levels of idiocy and to gargantuan levels of availability. Not only was drivel elevated to an art-form, we now had access to unprecedented amounts of crap, on a round-the clock basis.
Myspazz, Youfukkintube, Beboring, and Faecebook are surely the technological equivalent of London’s sewage system, which was effectively the major contributor to the possibility and practicality of the growth of the first major cities of the 19th century. The introduction of the modern sewage system was an effective method of dispersing the increasing volumes of crap that the new industrial society produced, both from its productivity and from the masses of its industrial workforce … and THAT was a huge load of crap.
The Internet has, similarly, given us a conduit for the immense amounts of shit that our current technological tsunami produces on a 24/7 basis.
Giving the public access to the Internet has made us greedy, acquisitive, little consumers of a seemingly limitless range of cyber-produce but, conversely, it has also given over the Internet to the consumer, in a welter of cottage industries – the Global Village is market gardening, and we’re liberally spreading dung on the allotment.
To paraphrase an often-used quote: “If the Abyss stares at you, then you stare right back at it”