By: Brad Manock
Lately there have been a lot of “real-life” shows featuring real people in their normal everyday lives. These shows usually have one similarity between them, some or all of the people featured on these shows are stupid. So why are so many stupid people on TV these days? TV should be used to showcase the smartest people we have so that viewers can have a role-model and raise the bar on what is considered normal in our culture. At this point we could almost have a channel specifically featuring stupid people. The trend of putting stupid people on TV continues to grow, why? That is what I will be discussing in this article.
Watching People Dumber Than Us Makes Us Feel Smart
When that “Toddlers in Tiaras” show came out, parents would love to watch because it would make them feel good. They would think, at least I am not THAT crazy. Watching that show made viewers feel good because the viewers would be on the moral high ground. The more recent example would be the “Honey boo boo show.” From what I could tell from the commercial, it is a show about a stupid red neck family in their everyday life. Just watching this commercial made me feel like a smart, valuable human being. If you want to get on TV, be either: very good looking, or fat and stupid.
If there was a reality show about people who were super smart in their everyday lives, it would not get very many viewers. Too often, people want to increase their self-esteem not by learning and improving themselves, but by comparing themselves to other people and feeling valuable in comparison. All throughout life, our traits are measured by using other people as a comparison. For example, instead of relying solely on grades in high school for college admission, the class rank is also used, this measure relies completely on the people around you instead of things you directly control. We are not taught to be the ‘best’ people we can be, just the ‘#1’ person.
“Ok DOCTOR Brad! Asshole!”
When meeting new people, being more intelligent than someone and acting as if you know it, is perceived as very disrespectful. Being stupid and mean to people is perceived as the worst thing a person can be. But being intelligent at all is perceived as equally disrespectful. People who get the most love are those who are stupid and kind to other people because that combination makes others feel the best about themselves. If you are more intelligent than someone you are interacting with, don’t let them know it.
I currently work at a low-level blue collar union job. One summer night during break I was standing in line at the water fountain to refill my water bottle. The coworker standing in front of me casually said “I’ve been drinking water all night and I don’t have to pee, wonder how that works.” I said “the water is being sweated out before it gets to your bladder.” This coworker gave me a mean look and walked away while saying “ok DOCTOR Brad.” The mistake I made in this situation was mistaking his statement as a question and then responding. This coworker is not smart, the correct response would have been to shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t know” instead of responding. This is just one example of the fact that people tend to hate those who are more intelligent than them. This logic is justified in their own mind since the more intelligent person is just showing off and being an asshole rather than striving to learn more and make themselves better people. The quick and easy way to feel good about yourself is not to become a better person, but to surround yourself with people less intelligent than yourself so that you are more intelligent by comparison. It is unfortunate that people have this mindset.
The Most Popular TV Characters are “Huggable and Loveable”
The most reliable way to determine if a TV show will gather a following or not is if the characters are “huggable and loveable.” In order to keep watching a TV show, viewers need to be able to develop emotional connections with one, or several of the characters. People who are stupid, but nice are perceived to be the most huggable and loveable. Viewers need to be able to imagine themselves in the shoes of these characters on TV in order to develop an emotional connection with them. If an emotional connection develops between these “huggable and lovable” characters, then viewers will be more likely to tune in every week to see what happens to them. For example the “Honey boo boo show” features characters that are stupid AND round, can’t get much more huggable and loveable than that. This concept would similar to a sports fan that watches all of the games of a team they care about and have an emotional connection with.
Stupid people are definitely more “huggable and loveable” in terms of allowing viewers to develop an emotional connection. If a character is too smart, then viewers cannot imagine themselves in their shoes. This is why characters who are too intelligent are either villains, or are given some kind of negative trait in addition to being intelligent to make them more relatable to viewers.
Stupid People are a Good Advertising Demographic
TV stations make their money in the form of selling advertising. The more a company wants to be seen by a particular audience, the more they will be willing to pay for a commercial slot. The goal for a TV station is to gather as many viewers as possible so that commercial spots are worth more. More eyeballs on the screen = $
Some demographics are worth more than others. Audiences of equal size will be judged by what they tend to buy and how much spending power they have. There are two ways to get a good return on investment when buying commercial spots: sell a lot of something cheap, or sell a few of something expensive. These audiences full of stupid people generally fall under the “a lot of something cheap category.” Since “broke” and “stupid” are usually closely correlated, the selling point is usually a low price and not much else. Maybe someday this trend will reverse, but for now…we have to keep watching various versions of “America’s next top fat retard.”