Why do you think these louts have made Will Farrell so popular and successful. He is the personification of their aggressive, self-centered ignorance. Only in this age could he be considered funny. They totally identify with him. iPods, cell phones, and video games have reduced a huge percentage of today’s youth to a state of near idiocy.
There has always been a disproportionate number of ignoramuses, compared to those with some amount of intelligence, but the education system’s failure to produce people who can think for themselves has tilted staggeringly in favor of more ignoramuses than ever.
In the 1950s Jean Shepherd (author and humorist) said the world was suffering from “creeping meatballism.” The meatballs aren’t creeping anymore. They’re galloping full speed ahead with the furious mania of a lemming stampede. Watch out for that first step. It’s a doozy.
Not knowing the Emperor’s New Clothes? Well one thing is it’s probably lost popularity because you can’t make it into a cartoon and illustrated versions for kids (nudity? Think of the children! Which didn’t stop my children’s fairy tales having a naked emperor in the pictures – just choose the angles and scenery carfeully)
I’m one of those people with a £50-month minimum book habit who supports the publishing industry, and have something of an interest in folk tales. But it still depresses me when I spot that the origin story of Iron Man is similar to the legends of Weyland Smith, and people think you’re talking about Weyland Smithers.
AOF – that’s why the aliens introduced the internet: we’ll be so strung out on porn by the time they get here, we won’t have the wherewithal to have sex with them…
TWO things annoy me about this situation.
1. it REALLY irks me, yanks my shorthairs, twists my knickers and what not when I see a re-write, song cover, movie reinterpretation that gets hailed as original, great, best ever, while I’m sitting there saying ‘crappy re-do of someone else’s original work, why don’tchya try creatin summtin original’ (and the answer I get back is almost always ‘don’t know what you’re talking about grandpa, this is way better than that dusty old thing you’re whining about’
2. One wonders how they are ever going to have a chance to learn from history and prior example when they acknowledge no prior work, recognize no ‘anchors’. Doesn’t this doom them to making the same mistakes over and over again? Doesn’t is presage a lack of originality and newness in the future arts?
Whatever happened to giving kids a solid grounding in the ‘timeless basics’ – like myth, western history – with the idea that we were passing on a common heritage that each generation could build upon?
and Weyland Smith is a re-casting of the myth of Hephaestus. Kids. Hello, McFly, knock knock, McFly – They did Thor, remember? Norse God? Ever hear of THE Gods of Olympus? Titans? You’re comic books are reeking of myth and you all think its original…
I am one of those slackers who enjoys (some) Will Farrell. But also I am here, laughing at those UCLA dullards.
I guess I’m getting defensive. Not all slackers are from the same mold. Some of us are slackers just because we don’t want to read and watch what the mainstream culture tells us. The lesser of us are just lazy and uninterested.
I came across Weyland Smith as Völund in some kid’s version of Norse Myths (slightly less cutting people to pieces and they leave out the one where Loki ties a goat to his testicles). Later I realised that this Weyland Smith was Völund in disguis, and that these weird Norse Myths are part of my English herittage. In fact, despite Völund coming from (probably) Sweden, and likely having common roots with Hephaestus (a glance at Wikipedia tells me the Greek island he was most associated with was Lemnos), somewhere in, I think, Yorkshire there’s a big rock that is Weyland’s anvil.
Which leads me by a roundabout route to a point – making a modern and jazzy version of old stories is what we’ve always done. Sometimes it’s better and more often it’s worse, but it keeps this stuff alive for a new generation. But the new generation have to be looking to find it.
All that said, why you’d make a bland and boring version of a great old story beats me. Or even a great new story (I’ve read some reviews of the pilot to the American version of Life On Mars and it sounds as though they’ve filed off all the rough edges, and everything else frankly).
Oh, and I meant to say, I saw one Will Ferrell film (Talladega nights?) and it was pretty entertaining, and then I saw another (Anchorman) which was very much the same but less car crashes. I’ll not be seeking them out, but I won’t run away if someone suggests one of his films.
Perhaps us Y Generation types are busy creating a new “culture” with a different series of references? I wouldn’t expect the vast majority of people in their 20’s to get such a simple literary/folkloric reference because it simply isn’t part of the world they live in.
I respectfully disagree. The culture that they live in while they’re trying to create a ‘new’ one is the tail end of a long line of cultures, each descended from and informed by the last and the concept behind ‘the emporer’s new clothes’ is a lesson that has to back as least as far as Sophocles.
There is no such thing as a ‘new’ culture. There is stealing from the past – be it deliberate stealing or accident-through-ignorance – but if you ‘Y’ generation kiddies think you’re creating something ‘new’, I’d suggest that Ellison is right and you all need to go back for a little more schoolin
I have suspected that The Emperor’s New Clothes and some other cultural memes are (perhaps subconsciously) being gradually edited from the culture at large because they are troublesome and somewhat subversive (good qualities if you ask me). Just think how much they apply to the Bush administration. One wonders if youth culture is becoming one which must be constantly entertained, but with no substance or allegory that might rock certain boats.
They may not know about the emporer’s new clothes, but that’s because they’re all too busy surfing “teh internets.” I’m sure that as a group they’d know exactly what’s meant and what’s being referenced if someone were to throw out the phrase “over 9000,” “all your base are belong to us,” “I’m in your base killing your d00dz,” “leeroy jenkins,” etc.
Considering the ease with which the internet can suck up free time and its ability to deliver instant gratification and constant entertainment, why would they bother learning boring old stories “like such as…”?
Put in a way they will appreciate:
UCLA grad students EPIC FAIL
UCLA grad student respond: “So I herd u liek our series of tubes, lulz. teh internets ftw.”
A “new culture”? The only “new culture” that doesn’t incorporate and synthesise anything out of the old is a Khmer Rouge style “year zero” culture. i.e. A catastrophe and a tragedy.
As a 39-year-old left/liberal software developer who lived through the collapse of Apartheid, having bitterly rejected the racist, Calvinist culture of my early youth and eagerly embraced cyber-culture and a kind of international bohemian leftism, I feel qualified to say that the only “new” culture worth its salt is one that spins new and wonderful things out of old threads.
Its monstrously arrogant for any youth to imagine that they can reinvent every rational insight, every asthetic, every great idea anyone ever expressed. There are two thousand year old insights that are as true today as they were two thousand years ago. Does anyone sincerely believe they can replicate all of the wisdom of billions of people that have gone before them, all of the artistic visions, in one generation? Good God, even at the age of 19, with all my resentment against older authority figures (consider the kind of authority figures we had under Apartheid) I didn’t consider such a preposterous thing possible.
And I understood the point of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” when I first heard it somewhere around the age of 13. I share Ellison’s horror. The negative implications of this anecdote go beyond simple knowledge of the story into the domain of critical thinking skills, or having a sufficiently broad knowledge of the world we live in to contextually parse the story’s implications. Or both. Either way, it doesn’t shine a positive light on the audience.
Based on the news coming out of America, a nation I once believed really was Reagan’s “Shining City on the Hill”, I’m inclined to believe this is a consequence of a growing, wilfully anti-intellectual streak in America’s culture, itself a consequence of religious wingnuttery, news as “infotainment” and art as fast food.
[…] Western civilization may be collapsing around us (and Harlan Ellison), but progress on GH2 is coming along nicely. In Episode Six of the BeanPole Campaign, the Enemy lays a snare for the PC and attacks at the worst possible time. Fortunately, the PC’s friends and allies show up at just the right moment to help save the day. […]
When I was twelve years old (for the record, I’m now 33), Harlan Ellison was my favorite author. I had college-level literacy when I was in junior high. I majored in creative writing at college, though now I’m a computer programmer. I know the origins and meanings of the phrases “the Emporer’s New Clothes”, “the Gift of the Magi”, “Sophi’s Choice”, and “et tu, Brute”.
That said, Will Ferrell: fucking funny. It’s hard to comprehend how anyone could fail to see that Ferrell’s comedy relies crucially on caricature and parody, with a more than healthy dose of the “self” variety. Takes all types, I suppose…
And thank you, crotchetyoldfan, for pointing out to David and to everyone that when it comes to our culture, it’s story-turtles all the way down to the Ur-Story-Turtle, which was probably about a guy busting out of a trap to get a girl, and everything else is either recapitulation or elaboration. And that’s just fine; infinite variation on timeless themes.
P.S.: Still, it’s pretty mind-blowing that college graduates could both not be familiar with the phrase, and then be unable to comprehend it when explained to them. Maybe they were destined to be MBAs or journalists…
“Perhaps us Y Generation types are busy creating a new “culture” with a different series of references?”
I refer you to a quote from the above article:
“Not only are they ignorant of everything — everything! — but they’re arrogant about their ignorance. They take great pride in not knowing or bestowing geezerdom on anything or anyone who achieved anything prior to their emergence.”
And where would one hear of or read about The Emperor’s New Clothes? (a reference I often use myself) Parents that actually read to their children? Schools that actually read to their students or assign books to be read? No, parents park their kids in front of the boob tube or a computer or video game, the electronic babysitters of today. I did grow up with TV but also devoured books since age 4. Today…. different story. I have a very bright stepson who has no cultural reference to anything older than himself it seems. No regard for black and white films no matter the quality of the material or acting, same with classic literature. Poor parenting, poor schools equals poor generations of recent years, the “if it ain’t recent, it ain’t relevant” and therefore, doomed to repeat the past in their own way. You can’t learn from mistakes of the past if you are unaware of them and most of the old stories had something more to say than any video game of today.
Welcome to the MTV generation. If it doesn’t involve bling, video games, or sex appeal, they aren’t interested. It’s not the games or toys like the ipods and cell phones, it’s that those things consume more of their lives much to their detriment. I have family members that will sit on the couch texting or playing hand held games and not even acknowledge anyone else in the room.
As a member of this generation who does know, and has known since he was at least four years old, what the “emperor’s new clothes” refers to, I want to argue on behalf of my generation. Members of older generations who are apt to comment on “the youth of today” also tend to overvalue particular cultural references: “You don’t know the pledge of allegiance by heart?!” “Well, no. They stopped requiring students to memorize that years ago. 1943 was when the Supreme Court said it was not mandatory.” One I got in high school: “You haven’t read the Odyssey?” “And you haven’t read Hegel. So sue me.” Culture shifts; the assumption that “everybody” should know what the ’emperor’s new clothes’ seems completely baseless. I imagine a number of the readers of this blog know what it refers to but have never read the story as Hans Christian Andersen wrote it.
I am fairly certain that, at least until the birth of the Internet, students were not getting dumber. Would a college student have known what the Emperor’s New Clothes referred to fifty years ago? Absolutely. But fifty years ago, the percentage of the high school graduating population entering college was significantly smaller than today; those entering were, by and large, significantly more qualified, and their parents had significantly more economic and cultural capital. It is thus a trade off: more students in college means more bad students in college. But to turn this into a hypothesis about the dumbing of the world seems incredibly flawed.
If you really want to complain about education levels, why don’t you do some research first? Look at NCES reports, find cross-time comparative studies that compare, say, 1950 to 2003 (these are harder to find than you might think; the “illiteracy” measurement of 1950 is much less rigorous than the 2003 “prose literacy” measurement). In other words, do what you ought to have learned in college: use data and information to formulate a rational argument.
I use my mobile phone to listen to podcasts on politics, neurology and music, help me navigate my way around the world, and organise my life as a freelancer. So, um, fuck the crotechetty old geezer who doesn’t like the way technology can enhance the transmission of information. Honestly, kids today and their damn “books”, eh? If oral storytelling was good enough for Homer it should be good enough for goddamn Gutenberg!
Less “Generation Y”-ishly, srsly, guys, to paraphrase Jesus “the morons you will always have with you.” Let’s not get so hung up on the idea that because we’ve been in an exciting few centuries where now almost a sizable minority of the species can read and write that we’ve magically evolved beyond basic levels of intellectual incuriosity. The decline you see isn’t any more horrifying than the Know-Nothings or the McCarthyists, nor is it so ubiquitous as to declare that all is lost. There will always be an “intellectual elite” of mostly really irritating schlemiels with a few good guys and burnout radicals in there, and a bunch of people below them who just don’t fucking care, with all the wonderful gradations and exceptions that add spice and texture to this wonderful human gumbo.
Sure, before you’d expect people who went to college to know what was going on, but that was when college was reserved for very rich people who could afford to educate their kids well from an early age, or the really really smart. Now any intellectually incurious soup-ingredient without much in the way of nous or drive can find themselves in the swelling masses of college-degree recipients who leave without knowing how to do basic arithmetic, which is a waste of their time when they could have gone and quarried wheels and fire from the living stone or hacked each other into kibble or whatever productive thing it was people did with their late teenage years before MTV and pornography. In this mess, you’re occasionally going to find that a bunch of people who fifty years ago would have been in an army infantry platoon or working some field somewhere now end up sitting in a college class instead.
I mean, really, this is at least kinda positive because this kind of mindless self-indulgence, while being completely worthless and unsustainable, is at least borne out of overluxuriating in a decadent society rather than one torn into several pieces by civil war and famine.
I’m not saying it’s a good thing, or that these specific kids shouldn’t be all drug out into the street and slapped silly, but I am saying that it’s not a harbinger of the end times or the collapse of civilisation either. Soon they’ll be dead, like the rest of us, but the few of us who’ve left some glimmers and fragments of intellectual detritus behind will at least probably not sink into total worthless historical obscurity like they will. That should count for something.
there is a point at which academic research and presentation becomes obviated by the evidence in front of one’s eyes.
I don’t need a graph with citations explaining the differences in methodology between reports that are generations apart to understand a simple equation:
increasing revenue at colleges and universities requires a lowering of admission standards, which necessarily lowers the baseline – ergo, more people gradiatin with a higher edumacation degree means the degree is worth less.
Simple economics: greater supply, lower cost (in this case, lower value actually)
What the colleges and universities should really have done is lower their admission standards but maintained their matriculation standards. It would then be relatively easy to tell who belonged there and who didn’t (with the schools keeping the money)
This dynamic of the drive to increase revenue leading to a lowering of the bar is rampant throughout our society.
Many white collar jobs that requried a BA decades ago for entry-level acceptance now require a masters for the same position. That is direct marketplace evidence that the college graduates of today are not as good, not as well educated and not as capable as they were just a few decades ago.
So here’s my rational argument: kids aren’t required to read those classics mentioned because they aren’t well educated ebnough to be able to read and comprehend them – but society demands that our children move on and up, so rather than holding them back or maintaining the standards, the requirements and the course materials have been dumbed down. They are then imbued with a sense of accomplishment and given license to be arrogant in their ignorance.
All you have to do is read one science text book from the Kansas public school curriculum to know that this is the case.
But forget all of that and the hard (relatively easy to pick apart) studies you are demanding and just look at one simple fact:
there are too many people on the planet. the worth of a single human being is approaching zero even on the commodities market. with so much availability, there is no longer a need to have educated, capable people; besides, its easier to sell junk to the masses when you’ve stunted their discriminatory powers. At the same time we move into technologies that increasingly enable people and support those operating at a lower level. They constitute the majority – not in a vote, but in their purchasing power. The entire system is a negative feedback look enclosed in a positive feedback loop that rewards the least common denominator and works towards lowering that bar continuously.
The human race isn’t going to go extinct from nuclear war or an epidemic, it’s just going to gradually arrive at the point where it has become too stupid to live.
This is the same old “Get off my lawn” bullshit my generation hears all the time. Funny thing is, the same thing was said to the generation before us, and the generation before them. When do we figure out that the generation gap always makes the younger generation look stupid and ill-informed.
dman . . I used to like harlan ellison too. Apparently, he’s just another narrow-minded old buzzard who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.
I don’t think technology is to blame for the younger generations ignorance of the past. iPods are a great source of information (I subscribe to dozens of university and college podcasts that include lectures on a variety of subjects). It’s people, and the way they choose to use that technology that are to blame.
It’s most often educated people who complain about how dumb the current generation is, but it’s not very smart to compare a generation to your own intelligence. If you compare it with your own generation at that age, I don’t think you’ll see much difference (I’ve seen footage of Woodstock, and the hippies of the 60’s, and a lot of them weren’t too bright).
Personally, I love Will Ferrell’s style of comedy. Sure, it’s not what you would call “smart comedy”, but the same could be said about Blackadder or the Monty Python Series. I think comedy is really a matter of personal opinion and not intelligence. I’m not a fan of Marilyn Manson or Tool, but I don’t think anyone who listens to their music MUST be an ignoramus.
There’s is also a flip side to this. While younger generations tend to absorb current trends and be ignorant of the past. A good portion of older generations tend to rest in the past and be ignorant of the future. You don’t know how many older people I hear referring to that wireless earpiece for cellphones as a “bluetooth”. Bluetooth is a wireless technology that the “headset” or “earpiece” uses to work. It’s NOT the name of the device.
The meatballs aren’t any more prominent today than they were in the 1950’s. Technologies like Social Networking, Blogs and YouTube just make them stick out more.
And @ Harlan Ellison:
I think choosing to yell at them makes you a poor educator. Have you ever thought that maybe you not getting through to a classroom might mean that you need to re-examine your teaching techniques?
I’m familiar with Hans Christian Andersen and Aesop and Chaucer because of the books in my home; they weren’t in the curriculum in my public schools. If you think everyone should be familiar with The Emperor’s New Clothes, you should be chiding our education system for not making it mandatory reading.
maybe each generation has been saying the same thing since the beginning of time because it IS true.
Certainly some of it is due to ignorance and some of it due to simply not wanting to ‘be like’ your parents.
But you know – I keep on coming back to the idea that the reason we just don’t off the older generation after about age 30 is because they represent a valuable data store that the next gen needs and wants, even if they aren’t willing to admit it.
Sure there are stupid old people – but there’s a difference between ‘you didn’t grow up with personal computers’ and ‘you don’t know anything worth knowing’.
Ellison understands something about myth and story telling that few of any generation actually appreciate. Joseph Campbell articulated it (who?!? you mean someone wasted their time to right a book about that!?!) in his seminal work: it is that stories tap into not just our racial heritage but into our psyches and into what we are. The closer you can get to that root, the more fundamental the lesson. We pass these stories on as convenient ways to pass on the lesson, the knowledge and the common roots that we all share as a species. You can ‘modernize’ these stories and still get the message across, but what you lose out on is the provenance.
I don’t know about particular ones, but kids these days do “get” cultural references in general. I teach science and just today we were massing a bunch of pinto beans on an extremely sensitive electronic balance. If you announce the grams while looking at the balance, your breath changes the number, so you have to turn your head before speaking.
They weren’t catching on until I told them to do like Tay Zonday in Chocolate Rain. Hilarity ensued briefly, but they got the cultural reference and the measuring was accomplished.
As for me, I have a terrible compulsion to try to understand every cultural reference I hear. I hate not knowing. Just reading these comments and I have to look up Fermi? B5? over 9000? leeroy jenkins? omg, and each link will lead to more links, and how did I even get to this site anyway, I clicked and clicked and I’m somewhere on the internets…
fermi – alien probability
B5 – probably the movie, not the paper size
9000 – vegeta
leeroy – wow hero
I hope that was humorous sarcasm; culture started WAAAAY before Chocolate Rain.
NeIC – I think they are, but I also agree that Will Farrell is a bit off-putting at times. He does do some clever parody, but then quickly descends into the ‘dumb and dumber’ nether regions where idiocy in and of itself is supposed to be funny. It’s like laughing at the village idiot – only those who lost the election to that position ought to be laughing and I don’t care to be part of that crowd.
I just happened to watch Kingpin the other day (Woody Harrelson) and realized that the ‘stupidity’ displayed by the Amish character in that movie is not true idiocy – it’s cultural dissonance. Therein lies one of the differences between Ferrell’s ‘comedy’ and offerings such as Monty Python.
I think this is an eternal issue. I remember marveling as a girl that Laura Ingalls Wilder could get up in front of her entire town and recite (RECITE! from MEMORY!) the major points of US history from Columbus to John Quincy Adams. I was an honors student and a very good public high school, and then an honors student at a very good public university, and I couldn’t have done that.
That said, I also think this issue is worse now. It seems our schools are trying so hard to teach basics, and failing, that there is no time for higher cultural learning. And certainly our culture doesn’t really value reading in the home, unless you count gossip magazines or TV Guide!
My son just started kindergarten, and it is all pushing reading, reading, reading. They push reading in the home at every moment, yet what do they expect us to be reading to him? Character-driven books like Curious George, Clifford, Berenstain Bears (shudder), etc. I’ve always read fairy tales and classic stories to him (including a version of The Emperor’s New Clothes, ha!) because I feel these are crucial to understanding Western culture. Similarly, I read him Bible stories even though I am not religious, because I don’t think you can really understand much of Western art, culture, or literature without it.
Monty Python is a great example of people who clearly were well educated, and so could create parody and silly comedy from the foundation of their culture. You can’t create something like The Holy Grail without being deeply familiar with medieval literature and history!
And regarding bachelor’s degrees being devalued: I think they are worth less simply because incoming freshman are woefully unprepared for postsecondary work. How many of these students really know how to analyze a novel and write coherently about it? Do they know how to take good notes in lectures? So colleges are spending time playing catch-up on skills these incoming students should already have, and graduates aren’t as skilled or knowledgeable as they should be. I like your idea of retaining higher matriculation standards, but the catch there is that colleges are held accountable for the percentage of matriculating students, and if the ratio of incoming vs. matriculating students gets too wonky, their accrediting body will start to raise eyebrows.
A couple of things, more for everyone else’s benefit than yours:
Every time I raise this issue – the quote ‘youth of today’ unquote, I get that Aristotle quotation shoved into my face like a sweaty t-shirt.
This makes me want to say the following: the fact that people have been saying the same thing for 2500+ years does not necessarily make it false. In fact, its persistance probably argues more for the statement’s accuracy than anything else.
Second, the fact that THE YOUTH OF TODAY are always throwing that saying in my face probably means that’s it’s the only piece of ammunition that have in that arsenal, which speculation kind of indirectly proves the point of the saying’s veracity.
I primarily view all of the sundry issues as being related to the concision of two things that are going on. 1. overpopulation. 2. marketing.
The more you have of anything, the less valuable an individual copy of that thing becomes. (I’m reminded of how quickly Lucy became sick of chocolate bon bons once she could eat as many as she wanted at the bon bob factory.) This is true not just for the thing itself, but for the resources required to utilize that thing – money for education as an example. Reduce things to the ridiculously exaggerated to see what I mean: if the world’s human population stayed the same but had only a single school-aged child to rear – the child itself would be seen as very valuable – priceless – and no amount of money spent on educating that child would ever be seen as ‘too much’.
When you have millions – what’s the big deal if a few fall through the cracks, or don’t get exposed to a well-rounded education? No big deal at all.
Marketing relies on a tenet of capitalism (expansion is necessary to make the system work, there will always be more consumers) and plays a part in insuring that there are always more. (I heard a piece the other day that we’re already 4 billion people beyond the world’s natural capacity to feed and support everyone: proof if there ever was proof of what I say.) This not only influences population, but influences what gets made, what attains value, what becomes important.
You can’t sell an education (except in a limited sense); imagine if public schools competed with each like fast food restaurants did.
But then we run into the other aspect of ‘marketing'; the product must appeal to the broadest spectrum of the population possible. It’s as if, taking the above fast food analogy, the schools only offered classes in what the kids would want to select and then they got to choose where to go. There’d be schools specializing in napping, others concentrating on lollipop eating and still others featuring video games or Barbie dolls.
Somehow, we have got to get away from the concept that just because we CAN do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that we ought to – even if some people would get rich doing so and even if everyone ‘liked’ what was being offered to them. I know some people like pine scent and others lemon scent – but what happened to having a cleaning solution smell like ammonia so that everyone knew what it was? We don’t need the environmental costs, the confusion in the marketplace or anything else associated with twelve different ‘flavors’ of window cleaner. But someone did research and found out that 23.89 percent of all people who purchase window cleaner liked the smell of chocolate truffles and 86.98 percent of those people were willing to spend an extra dollar to get it and there you have it.
Likewise, we have got to convince ourselves that ‘lowering standards so that more can participate’ is a losing proposition. Maybe we need to make schooling a life-long, mandatory activity that you never graduate from; maybe we need to get over this adolescent emotion that ‘kids have to make their own mistakes’ (no, they don’t. They CAN learn from other’s past experience and they ought to if only to establish a baseline for the entire culture. There was a time that EVERYONE had to read Silas Marner in school and EVERYONE hated doing it – but you know what? Everyone could talk about both the book AND how they felt about having to read it.)
When the aliens arrive, there are a lot of us who will be ashamed to have to admit that yes, we are human beings…
Maybe it’s just my thick skull, but I never considered Monty Python ‘smart comedy’. Even though Holy Grail had a historic setting, and British accents always sound smarter than American accents, most of the jokes were just as simple as most Will Ferrell movies (although you could say the style is much different). And musicals like Avenue Q are very similar to Ferrell’s comedy, and that won a Tony!
If we’re going to talk about bad comedy, let’s talk about films like, Scary Movie (and all the sequels, Not Another Teen Movie, Epic Movie, Meet The Spartans, and all of the films they’ve spawned. These films make ‘Freddy Got Fingered’ look Oscar-worthy.
I think Python is one of those things that works on multiple levels.
For example: The Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. Cleese’s physical comedy in that sketch is enough to carry the whole thing. But it’s also (British) political satire and while I personally get the broad concepts, I didn’t grow up with a Parliment and a Prime Minister, so I’m sure that there’s a whole other layer I’m missing.
Or the Norwegian Blue Parrot/Lumberjack Song sketch. This is not some ‘my booger is bigger than your booger’ stupid-is-funny bit. Silly, yes, stupid, no. All you have to do is listen to the extemporaneous list of euphemisms for ‘dead’ to realize this. Lumberjack is just vaudeville cross-dressing, until you look at the subject. The parody is so over the top that it’s brilliant.
Life of Brian as another example: certainly not the best of their work, truly, but saved by getting across the idea that but for mere happenstance, we’d all be wearing amulets depicting the first thing that hit someone in the head 2000 years ago. (Made even more hillarious by this society’s confrontation with the fact that showing the soles of your shoes is blasphemy to another of the world’s religions…)
Grail had so many of those slightly off center moments.
Now, since you’ve been very, very bad, get thee off to a Nunnery so you can have a nice spanking. Just ask for Zoot.
That is direct marketplace evidence that the college graduates of today are not as good, not as well educated and not as capable as they were just a few decades ago.
Or that there are more of them so companies know they can get higher-qualified candidates for the same wage. In any event, I wouldn’t trust “the marketplace” to tell me shit from shinola without checking it against something else first. “The marketplace” recently shat the US economy out of its collective asshole.
maybe each generation has been saying the same thing since the beginning of time because it IS true.
Yeah, I mean, ever since we invented fire HOO BOY has it been downhill! Every generation has been more stupid than the last ever since the dawn of time. Isn’t it obvious?
Or maybe that’s the single most stupid assertion anyone’s yet made in this thread. Seriously, do you listen to yourself? What might be a good point or two is drowned in a level of babbling reactionism that utterly undermines your point about how you’re so much smarter than kids these days. If you’re going to claim to be totally smart, it’s not a good idea to say something this damn stupid.
And that’s not a logical fallacy in your argument? If some members of the younger set display those characteristics, is this set increasing or decreasing? If it’s going to cause social problems then it surely must be increasing, and if it’s been doing that since the dawn of all recorded history then it must be pretty damn big by now. And because you’re just a couple of notches down on the curve, it means your generation is only incrementally less moronic and responsible for the downfall of humanity than the current one. And, I mean, that makes sense, because people in the past have made some fucking boneheaded decisions.
Or maybe what’s being observed is nothing that’s going to destroy the planet after all and is just part of what always happens, forever, without causing our society to disintegrate into slobbering infantilism. Some people are intellectually incurious, some people are not. Some people, when encountering intellectually incurious people in a given set, are appalled by this. Some people further still go completely off the rails and take it to mean that, right, we mean it now, all the other generations who said that the stupidity of *my* generation would cause the downfall of society were obviously wrong because they simply hadn’t met *me* when I was an intelligent and witty young person, but this time there simply aren’t any people as smart as me, the whole thing is going to the dogs, it’s institutional, a failure of government, and caused by too much government interference. Someone must do something! Or stop doing something! Or both! Immediately!
People of your generation were just as full of credulous incurious fucks as the ones that came after and, to be frank, the ones that came before. Now, depending on your social circles you might not have met as many of them, but ain’t that the glory of global telecommunications! You can expose yourself to as much rampant idiocy as you now have the stomach for.
You’re not a secret cabal keeping everything from falling apart, unless by “everything” you mean “your own sense of importance”. You’re posting a blog, which is something even John McCain’s Gen-Y daughter can do. I promise you, dude, were you to sit down and have that much deserved glass of Iced Tea on the porch with your buddies, the world would carry on without you just fine. Try it. If it’s hard work, take a rest, you’d be amazed at how the rest of us manage without you.
Go back in time 100 years and ask a family of sharecroppers to “discuss Silas Marner.” Guarantee you they might be able to tell you the story of the emperor’s new clothes but at least half of them wouldn’t be able to write it down for you. Is the world going to hell in a handbasket or are you just entirely absorbed in a very limited middle class late 20th century USAian conception of what the world should be like to spot that things have always been a bit shit around here?
We’ll cope. Not very well, admittedly, but, honestly, sitting there and throwing spitballs about how come you’re so much smarter than everybody else, or at least than “a subset of this generation” is actually not going to make any kind of difference at all. Sorry to break it to you, I know you had your heart set on that Cabalist Of The Year award and all…
Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” was somewhat a backlash against a childhood of slogging through Mallory and his ilk to have the Arthur myths drilled into one’s head; this is one of the natural responses to this sort of indoctrination, just like “whatever, grandpa”, or falling in love with old things – with all paths leading to possible ignorance or knowledge in degrees both healthy and unheathly. That movie was damn well read for something that hinged primarily on coconuts.
But seriously, have you read Mallory? The jokes write themselves.
Also, did anyone mention the movie Disney made out of “Emporer’s New Clothes” (“Emporer’s New Groove”, not the close-to-the-original mid-1900s cartoon)? Not sure how true they stayed to the spirit / moral of the original, but maybe Ellison should’ve tried a “Little Mermaid” reference for his target generation?
I’ve never read the Hans Christian Andersen original (eh, or a reasonable translation – my danish is rather short of that mark), but I’ve seen it retold by everything from ALF cartoons to, I guess, other cartoons that didn’t involve ALF. The 80s was rife with bits of our chosen cultural cannon being foisted on children, albeit in more or less adulterated forms (but, again, only Danes have a shot at dodging all adulteration here – and that, flying in the face of all the many obscuring tools of time).
I would’ve caught the reference – Should’ve given the talk when I graduated last year, eh? Or maybe those UCLA kids didn’t get to watch enough 80s cartoons . . .
McDuff, we were talking about your argument, not mine.
yes, I read Mallory, and The Green Knight and other related works. I actually enjoyed them although I know that many others considered them a slog.
I’ve also read HCA – not in the original but in old(er) translations.
These works and others, like Grimms Fairy Tales, Greek plays & etc., are really seminal, fundamental works for anyone who is engaged in any kind of literary pursuits, and ought to be part of a well-rounded education for anyone.
The further back you go, the easier it becomes to discern the underlying psyche of these myths.
I’ve read the entire bible through, twice – but not the King James version. I read (in translation) the real bible, the one that only has five books, and NOT the re-write/update/re-boot/re-imagined thing called the new testament. That I’ve only read once (and it was awful).
I’ve also read through and english translation of the Quran, am american heritage dictionary, the full set of an encyclopedia (memory dims the name of that one), almost all of Shakespeare, some icelandic sagas, numerous greek plays, plato, thuycidies, etc., etc., etc Beowulf in anglo saxon, the adventures of Hengest & Horsa.
ancient stories. if you’re looking for material, I’d still with the greek pantheon – more characters to fool around with.