Sam Wilson

When idiots rule

2004-09-27 09:44

Green is the new pink. Tapas is the new sushi. Ashton Kutcher is the new Charlie Sheen and yes... the idiot is the new asshole.

Trends usually pass me by. As a magazine person I am aware of them, and I giggle as loudly as the next mag hag whenever some unfortunate fashion editor splashes a phrase like "the belt is the new bag" across a glossy page ("how exactly?"), but otherwise my interest is rarely more than piqued.

But this "idiot is the new asshole" thing does intrigue me.

Think back to male portrayal during the late '80s and early '90s. Think slickly clothed, wheeling-and-dealing corporate types, Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street and their associated parodies in the business card-comparing boss boys of Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho.

If you were into trends around that time, it seemed cool to be an asshole. Sure, you were no fun to be around and people said nasty things behind your back, but on the whole, you got away with it because you were a "take-charge, going-places" kind of person. Or rich. Or something.

Now, it seems, being an asshole is passé. Gone are the cigar-butt chewing, überselfish types of yesteryear, connoisseurs of revenge, complicated trickery and fine dining.

Ever since Forest Gump grabbed his stupid box of chocolates and waddled his way across our screens, we have been pelted with idiot imagery instead.

Festeringly thick frat boys grossing each other out in stultifyingly dull movie after movie, Ashton Kutcher and his infantile punkish pranks, sports people who think it is perfectly acceptable to use the same non-sentence every single interview ("Ah, we just went out there and did our best."), entire multi-million dollar ad campaigns based on the sound, "Wazzzzuuuppp" and of course, George Bush.

It is a sad, sad state of affairs when stupidity becomes hip. It also fits horrifyingly snugly with our new reduced attention spans, which are only hooked by political issues if they are McJargoned, or reduced to a single question, preceded by the word "Dude".

Say what you like about assholes, at least they have content. It might be mean-spirited, self-serving and Machiavellian... but it is usually a damn sight more gripping than "Duh".

So how long is The Idiot going to rule? I shudder to think. All I can say is... nerds. Come back. All is forgiven.

  • Sam Wilson is a strategist for a customer publishing company and a columnist for a variety of magazines.

    Send Sam your comments on this column

  • Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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