Thursday, September 16, 2010

Idiot Chic

Friends on Facebook know that this week, yours truly launched the "Idiot Chic" group, dedicated to worshiping the rise of know-nothing behavior in modern society, making art and humor out of the rejection of logic, discourse, and the scientific method. Is this cruelty? Is this irony? Hardly.

As David Thomas of Pere Ubu reiterates on his Hearpen site, it is important to rid yourself of an abundance of irony (or cynicism, for that matter), and say what you mean. OK, clown mask off.

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An Irony-Free™ Site

In 1984, I was among a group of well-meaning clowns who ran a dog for president, under the double moniker of the Disgusted with Yuppies Party and the Stupid Toy Society. Though this was before the rise of Gameboys and smartphones, we could foresee the consumer world defined by its stupid toys. Revel in the madness, tra-la, tra-la.

Similarly, here in the 21st century, it was disheartening to watch Clay Jenkinson of Thomas Jefferson Hour get so disheartened over a "New Dark Ages" - sure, I agree with him, there is a surfeit of literacy and little concern for making a rational argument any more. In fact, large sectors of the political and cultural world stridently reject rationalism in favor of making emotional faith-based or authority-based arguments as a way of establishing identity. My old friend Sandy said that it's of little use to lament the passing of the Enlightenment - humans have been idiots through most of their evolutionary history, and are not going to change because you whine.

In fact, we are so busy spotting the two-steps-back, we fail to notice the baby steps forward. Sure, the society is getting scary-dumb these days, but at least in Western culture, we see few of the violent gangs to enforce conformity that we saw a century ago. Today, stupid is a fashion statement, an art form. If the three most common culinary icons in 2010 are bacon, cupcakes, and IPA beer, why fight it?

Hence Idiot Chic. Like the steampunk movement currently running out of steam, the rise of cultural vapidity requires a documentation, a celebration, a reference point. Dedicated web sites or blogs are too blase, Twitter fails to give us the cultural richness we need, but a Facebook group fits the necessary dumbness model. But for those of you who refuse to bow to Mark Zuckerberg's Frankenstein monster, consider this blog an occasional and indirect portal to the moron in all of us. Hail Idiot Chic.

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