Monday, September 12, 2011

the longing to be dumb

Attentive parents of young children may be galvanized into action after reading that the TV cartoon, "SpongeBob SquarePants" seems to make kids significantly dumber than other TV fare. Since I have suffered through and enjoyed a lot of cartoons as my kids grew up, I was delighted to read this: SpongeBob was one of my least-favorite TV pastimes, together with "Mr. Rogers." The kids loved it ... I saw it as something that made me want to eat anchovies, which I hate.

But after reading the BBC article about the brain-numbing nature of SpongeBob, I wondered about the role of dumb stuff in our lives -- a time to chill out with something precisely because it did not require any thought or analysis or even attention. After a long day in the office, an adult is forgiven for having a drink in order to unwind. Football games are not something anyone could do anything about and they do not impinge on what is serious in our lives (unless you've got a lot of money riding on the outcome). And weeding the flower garden can have a wonderfully clarifying and unthreatening aura.

A down time, a time to relax, a time to think about what is not nagging and nitty-gritty ... isn't there something to be said for dumb stuff? Of course, problems arise when the dumb stuff is elevated to the level of what is serious. When dumb stuff becomes smart stuff ... well, that doesn't sound too smart.

But how is anyone to separate what is serious and what is dumb? And if anyone chose to elevate dumb stuff to the level of smart and serious stuff, wouldn't they still need some down time, a time to relax with something ... dumber?

It's all a judgment call, I suppose. One man's meat is another man's poison. But is it possible that the relaxed and relaxing nature of our own versions of "SpongeBob SquarePants" is something to take a hint from? Why is our SpongeBob relaxing and our taxes are not? Why is hang-gliding a delight but funerals are not? Why is what seems to be a human imperative to seek out a peaceful "ahhhh" distinguished from the imperative to elude the "aaarrrgh?"

I haven't got any answers but it crossed my mind.

And I reserve the right to continue thinking "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Mr. Rogers" are drivel.


  1. Ya know in this world of ours some things should be held sacred, above critical attack and Mr. Rogers is in many minds the proverbial sacred cow. I mean gadszooks how many other adolescent programs had uber hip jazz in the background and a complete absence of aggression implied or shown? OK, so it was a bit insipid and possibly inane but that's the great American wasteland of television in it's entirety, no?

  2. Mr. Rogers is kinda scary actually, but I like spongebob.