Friday, March 14, 2008

The Radio: Stupidity Celebrated

Today, I was working with someone who likes to listen to mainstream radio, and since my iPod almost always rules the radio (I hate the radio) I decided I should let someone else listen to what they want to for the day. Now, I absolutely detest any music on the radio, unless it is from before 1989 and I hate… HATE commercials. That’s just my taste. I listen to talk radio and the music from my iPod, that’s it. But today, as I was saying, I took off my radio dictator hat. And oh boy, do I still hate radio. But one thing really stood out to me; a song by Timbaland with the most appalling name I’ve ever heard: “This Is The Way I Are.”

Were I physically able, I would have thrown the radio out the window of the truck in a fit of frustrated rage. I realize this is the mainstream, and part of how you stand out in the mainstream is by being different, but since when was it considered cool to present yourself as mentally disabled, unable to speak a sentence as simple as “This is the way I am”? Even in the hip-hop world, proper grammar is at least loosely admired. This isn’t even Ebonics or some other language; it is just plain celebrated idiocy. This is a generation which is eschewing grammar and spelling in favor of shorthand instant messaging spellings. Our children will be better at texting on their phones than they are at using a keyboard or writing by hand. Does that concern anyone else the way it concerns me? I am definitely getting old-fashioned. I see shades of my father all over this blog.

I consider myself a realist, and as such, I have some perspective on this matter. My perspective is; get ready, thinking people. Because it’s about to get a whole lot cooler to appear a whole lot stupider. The mainstream has celebrated idiocy and ignorance for years, but by and large, the message to young people has been one celebrating genius and intellectual achievement. This is just the tip of the iceberg, because as I said, the current zeitgeist says stupidity equals credibility. There are various reasons for this, but one of them is that intelligent people tend not to shoot straight, and this generation places a very high value on honesty and “being real.” Smart people put too much spin into their speech and are perceived as being dishonest. Is there truth to this? Of course there is… in small measure, but the assumption that stupid (or “simple”) people don’t lie or spin their words is off the mark.

The other mistaken assumption is that these people who are presenting themselves as “down to earth straight shooters” are exactly that. On the contrary, these are simply people who have learned to speak the language of the day. Now, I’m sure a lot of these people are genuinely mentally deficient, but the vast majority of them are simply smart enough to speak the way their audience demands: postmodern, ignorant, no concern for grammar, and so on and so forth.

This is precisely why we should train our children to be wary of the mainstream and to always consider themselves outside of it. This does not mean that they should not be aware of it, of course. But we should always remember that we are outsiders looking in (“In the world, but not of the world,” as the saying goes). Sometimes, to see what the sharks are doing, you’ve got to get into the water. As believers, let us remember that Reason is important and not peripheral. After all, even though you’re getting in with sharks, it’s nice to do so with a cage.

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