Hello My Imaginary Friends,
Intelligence isn’t cool and is actually pretty dumb. That’s what television and movies have been telling me for my entire life. The nerds from Revenge of the Nerds, Screech from Saved by the Bell, Steve Urkel, the characters of Scorpion, most versions of Sherlock Holmes, and the characters from Big Bang Theory. These are just a handful of examples of what I’d call Stupid-Intelligent.
When you get a character that is brilliant in a television show, movie, or book; they are automatically given some sort of crippling character trait or traits. Normally it’s a complete lack of social graces or empathy, paranoia, uncontrolled phobias, arrogance, etc.
Have you ever wondered why this is done?
Writers do this for multiple reasons. The first being that the genius easily replaces the wizard in most modern day, or science fiction, stories. With a wave of their thermoscouplers and reversing the polarity, they can save the world. Because of this they need to give the characters flaws or they’ll be more powerful and interesting than the everyman main character, which would be intimidating to the audience.
The second being comedy. Look at the smart guy who doesn’t know how to throw a football…
Both are lazy writing.
What does it matter?
These cardboard outlines of characters represent two communities; those with great intelligence and those with disorders. It creates an impression that intelligence is a curse and that disorders only affect those that are special. Both are total bullshit and are harmful to the communities involved.
How is a show about intelligent people, anti-intellectual?
Big Bang Theory is part of the “Hateful” category of American Sitcoms. That means that the characters are all at some point, for comical effect, going to be ridiculously mean to their friends. Normally the plot will revolve around a misunderstanding, prank, or selfish action. It always ends in the pain of one of the characters.
It doesn’t matter that the show is fact checked, mostly, or that it caters to geeks and nerds; it uses them as the butt of the joke and in the end makes each of the characters come out looking like idiots.
This is an old trope, but one that has become prominent in the past few years. It paints intelligence as an inability to see past your own expertise or to think critically. While trying to humanize the character, they devalue their actual accomplishments.
What’s the point?
When you see Sheldon as unable to work with others, function as an adult, or have healthy relationships; it reflects not just on the character but all scientists.
After decades of being told that nerds are broken, unreasonable, undependable, and egotistical ; is it any surprise that people are having a hard time trusting them?
We are seeing a record number of people believing pseudo-science simply because they don’t trust those who are supposed to be the experts.
Here are a few examples of things people believe because they don’t trust science or experts:
- The Earth is flat
- Trump is a successful businessman
- The Earth is 4000 years old
- Vaccines cause autism or allergies
- Vaccines aren’t necessary
- Theories aren’t proven
- Evolution isn’t real
- Climate change isn’t real
- Genetically Modified Organism or GMO’s are bad for you
- GMO’s are a recent thing
- Scientific Fact is the same as opinion
This is a small list of things people believe because they’ve lost respect for the authority of scientists.
Is this The Big Bang Theory’s fault? No, it’s just another example of anti-intellectual, lazy, and harmful writing.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments,