Idiocracy is my favorite movie, it’s both hilarious and prescient. The fact that society has devolved into an “idiocracy” in the movie is not that far away from where we almost went in the mid-oughts… see our intense infatuation and love at the time for MMA, “supersize” fast food, Hummers, Boob Jobs, Ed Hardy, Shitty Tribal Tattoos, Garish Nightclubs, Blingy Watches, fake tans, et al. The economic downturn shed light on some of the lunacy – like everyone shouldn’t strive for a 4 car garage – but that hasn’t halted the overall idiot-trending completely. We are still inherently idiots and our society, while it values intellectual virtue that results in making a lot of money (see Facebook, Apple, etc…), still doesn’t really want to be thought of as nerdy. We want to kick that nerds ass, but in a more aloof and not as obvious way as perhaps 2005.
In Seattle, being thoughtful is valued, and I really like that, but as I’ve been traveling pretty extensively for work to parts of the country that I will affectionately call “the armpits” – and I’ve been exposed to a broader spectrum of humanity.
I was in my least favorite place on earth recently, a “city” that embodies both the worst parts of the South and Midwest without any of the associated charms. And I met a shitload of idiots while I was there. People who were both aloof and somehow took pride in the fact that they weren’t that smart. Juxtapose that with a city like Pittsburgh, which has had a reputation as a depressed steel-town full of Steeler-obsessed and morbidly obese sausage-eaters, and you have quite a contrast. Pittsburgh is a great city.
Yes, they are absolutely crazy about the Steelers (I bought a terrible towel while I was there to wear as a gang accoutrement, and it saved me a couple of times from both physical violence and awkward conversation gaps), but they are thoughtful people with a great dining scene, burgeoning arts scene, and a tech sector that’s starting to take off – and people aren’t afraid to seem smart. There is hope for America and the idea that we won’t fully devolve into an “idiocracy” – but more of our cities need to embody the Pittsburgh and Seattle ethos – that thinking about shit has value.