I don’t like polls. I don’t trust them and when they call and ask if they can have five minutes of my time, I usually answer, “No!” in a creatively rude, sometimes even crude way and my wife will cuss me out a bit if she hears it because “The caller is probably just some poor student trying to work their way through college…”
I figure that’s enough for some folks to call me un-American, but then I don’t particularly care what the kind of folks who’d care or wonder if I was un-American think of me anyway.
All of the above is just a rhetorical introduction to a Zogby poll which that incorrigible iconoclast, Bob Harris, over at This Modern World drew my attention to:
More Americans can name two of Snow White’s seven dwarves than can name two justices of the Supreme Court. (75% against 25%)
More Americans can name the planet where Superman was born than can name the planet closest to the sun. (60% as opposed to 37%)
More Americans know the Three Stooges than the three branches of the American government. (74% as opposed to 42%)
More Americans can identify the protagonist of J. K. Rowling’s success series than can the Prime Minister of England. (57% as opposed to 50%)
More Americans know the name of Homer Simpson’s son than can name one of the Greek Poet Homer’s epic poems (60% as opposed to 20%)
More Americans could name the latest winner of “American Idol” than could name the latest person to be confirmed to the Supreme Court (20% as opposed to 11%)
Bob’s take on this is that now we know why we have troops in Iraq when Ahsawyah been-Lately was two countries to the east.
My take is of course more in keeping with the realities of the world we now live in:
I was both puzzled and disturbed when Edward R. Murrow said that television was a fantastic medium for public information. This is of course obvious, but what I don’t quite comprehend is why he apparently thought that was a good idea. I suppose his and Fred Friendly’s success in starting the avalanche which destroyed the career of Joe McCarthy went to his head.
True, the Founding Fathers who crafted their vision into the American Constitution felt that an informed public was vital to sustaining a democratic republic. However, with only two parties to choose from, how hard can it be to decide which one to choose, especially with the quality, erudition, talking points and sound bites spun into our minds by television bobble-heads and pundits?
True, it was nip and tuck for a while, but the sort of educational [= subversive] programs I was exposed to as a kid have mostly disappeared. True, there is still NPR, but it is hardly a danger anymore. Fortunately, today’s television is devoted almost entirely to creating entertaining illusions whose purpose is to keep us from changing channels during the advertisements.
In creating the constant need for new thingies and hunger for new crunchy munchies, advertisements in turn are responsible for the both the American negative savings rates as well as the galloping epidemic of obesity and blubber – all of which is good for the economy of our proud mega-corps and therefore good for America!