Oh the ship here, each morning I turn on the TV and watch late-night television (an interesting by-product of being on the wrong side of the globe) on the Armed Forces Network. I don’t pay too close attention, but one show I see frequently is the Jimmy Kimmel Show. He has one of my favorite sketches, called “This Week in Unnecessary Censorship” which is hysterical. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and find some clips. Great stuff.
He also has a bit called “Confusing Question of the Day“. It basically involves sending a “reporter” out on the street to ask people what they think about something, and they deliberately pose a nonsensical question such as “What do you think about President Obama pardoning the sequester and sending it to Portugal?”. The reporter goes down the street and asks random people this questions and hilarity ensues when the respondent clearly feigns knowledge of the question while struggling to offer an answer that doesn’t give away the fact that they have no idea what they’re talking about.
It’s pretty damn funny, I gotta admit. But I also gotta admit something else… I almost never laugh. Instead, I almost always sit there aghast at the consistency with which they are able to find people that respond this way, and at how shameless the people are who feign the answers.
The bit is funny, but the reality the bit exposes is downright ugly and depressing.
I’ll make a couple assumptions here. First, I’m going to assume that the sample of respondents we see on the show are selectively chosen out of many people interviewed, most of whom probably balked at whatever ridiculous question they were asked. Secondly, I’m going to assume that the respondents we see on the show are not acting. Keeping in mind that these are un-validated assumptions, I can’t help but cringe when I see these clips. Assuming that they are genuine, it means that there is no shortage of people:
– for whom lying is a routine way of life
– for whom bullshitting is part of their engrained, habitual social repertoire
– that are clueless about current events yet speak confidently and authoritatively about them
– who will pretend to give questions serious thought without ever actually listening to it or taking a moment to understand its meaning
– for whom distinguishing between when they’re lying and when they’re telling the truth is generally impossible
Now, I’m not claiming to be surprised that such people exist. What distresses me is how many of them there are, and how naturally they fit in all around us. More distressing still is the fact that no one seems to mind – it’s a joke and it’s funny and ha ha ha ha….
I find it funny because it’s funny to see fools look like fools.
But not funny enough to mitigate the fact that it says something very un-funny about the society in which we live.