Stupidity 101

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Just when I think that TV can't surprise me with its stupidity, along comes Fox's new reality game show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, which gets the post American Idol sweet spot.

Ironically, the show is itself about stupidity, or perhaps it's just about the TV-manipulated the appearance of stupidity, or maybe just the sense of superiority some people may get by watching adults display their ignorance like a flag.

Host Jeff Foxworthy, he of the middle America-celebrating schtick, mocks the adults who seemed to have been chosen for their affable dullardliness, or is it dullardly affableness, represented by the UCLA U.S. history major who didn't know that Andrew Johnson had been the only other president to have been impeached outside of Bill Clinton. All the kids knew the right answer.

I wonder if there was some subtle Left Coast jab by holding up the California college grad to ridicule. When he couldn't answer the Andrew Johnson question and instead chose to walk away with his money, he was labeled a "dropout" and forced to face the audience and declare himself not smarter than a fifth grader.

But the show's forced laughs, forced insults, and forced premise, are not enough to raise it to the level of "what were they thinking?" No, that was reserved for the "cheats" each player gets in the game. The adult can either "peek' at the answer of the student, or "copy" it. Yes, that huge, young-targeted Idol audience are encouraged to watch a show that mocks adults and insitutionalizes cheating.

I wonder how many teachers out there were as apalled as my daughter and I were that the show was celebrating peeking and copying, particularly given the rampant cheating that actually goes on in today's schools.

What were they thinking?

By John Eggerton