June 21st, 2001


Playing Dumb

There is one thing out there that really burns me up more than almost anything else (within the last few months. I’m sure I’ll find a bigger peeve sooner or later), and that is feigned ignorance. There is nothing more maddening than when someone pretends not to know what you are talking about. I’m not talking about when you are discussing rocket science or Indonesian philosophy, I mean when you are telling some story or making some point about something that anyone who has lived atop the surface of the earth for any length of time should know about.

It’s one thing if you say “did you see that episode of Seinfeld when Puddy was wearing the fur coat?” It is not too unreasonable for someone not to have seen that episode. We can’t account for taste, but we must demand awareness. If you were to say, “you know that show Seinfeld?” and the braindead knuckledragger replies, “I don’t watch that show” or “I don’t watch TV” you should have every right to punch this person square in the mouth. The question was not whether or not you watch the show. The question had absolutely nothing to do with your television viewing habits or a doubt of your bohemian nature. It was a question of awareness. Anyone who has been alive for the past 10 or so years is aware of Seinfeld.

Jules Winfield, Sam Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction asked his partner a similar question, which was answered with “I don’t own a TV.” Never losing his cool, Jules replies “but you are aware that there is an invention called a television and on it they show shows, right?” Same thing.

Why would anyone say anything that implies that they are not aware, to follow my example, of Seinfeld? Who did you think was on the cover of all of those Entertainment Weekly magazines? What have you been doing every weeknight at 7:30 for the past five years (and if the answer has anything to do with Erkel, I don’t want to know you)?

What brought this to a head today was on the radio this morning, the DJ, news guy and traffic girl were all bantering about Luke & Laura’s breakup. Now, I couldn’t tell you what show those two are on. I couldn’t tell you thing one about their relationship. But I know that they are a couple on some soap who have been an item for many years. I know this because I don’t walk around with my fingers in my ears. The damn news guy, the whole time the DJ and the traffic girl were discussing the issue, kept repeating, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have no idea what you’re talking about” (this of course made the traffic girl say “now you know how I feel when you talk about sports” which is another can of worms entirely, that I don’t want to get into now). You’re a goddamn news guy. You should know more things than most people. Look alive and pay attention. You have brought nothing to the conversation by saying that you don’t know what’s going on. You have made yourself look stupid and made more work for the storyteller.

Don’t be an ass.
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