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August 1994


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 4 Aug 1994 08:15:51 -0600
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Eric Rabkin writes:
"Whatever "inane stupidity" is, it has to
do with _art_ and something about the construction of art. And
what I believe some of us are objecting to is the thinness of
that construction these days, a willingness to go for the FX home
run, the guaranteed box office draw, the hot subliminal prejudice
button, and nothing more. Sure, this was done before, but I can't
help but think that our capacity to do this effectively and
relentlessly has done something regrettable. I, for one, feel an
enormous difference between _The Perils of Pauline_ and _The
Evisceration of Pauline_."
Perhaps we need a taxonomy of stupidity.  There's stupidity that's simply
senseless (as in "senseless violence").  There's stupidity that is
formalistic in cause (as in "That doesn't make any sense.")  And then
there's stupidity as the celebration of a certain kind of terminal dumbness
(as in, "How could he be THAT  stupid?")
Even then, the last category needs to be broken down into at least 3 types:
1) the character who appears dumb and even may be dumb but is redeemed by
a kind of higher wisdom (as in GUMP), 2) the character who THINKS he's
smarter than a dumb person (usually his partner) but isn't (Hardy vs. Laurel,
Ren vs. Stimpy), and 3) the guy who is just plain drop-dead dumb (all the
3 stooges--but especially Curly, the airplane pilot who used to be Bob
Newhart's neighbor, and--from previews at least--Carrey and Daniels in
I sure there's a thesis topic here for someone!
"Stupid is as stupid does, Sir!"        --Forest Gump
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN