“You Can’t Fix Supid!!”?!

You Can't Fix StupidI have started a habit of most nights quickly checking out what was on the MSNBC primetime lineup. Normally, it doesn’t take more than ten minutes, because all the shows are pretty much the same, and they are just reporting stuff that I’ve already read about. But in doing that last night, I came upon the image at the left. It was from yet another anti-immigrant protest. It is notable that most of the people in it were African American. It reminds me of a parallel universe Dean Martin, “Everybody Hates Somebody.”

That wasn’t what caught my eye, however. I was shocked to see that sign, “You Can’t Fix Stupid!!” I know the line. It is from stand-up comedian Ron White. Now, I really don’t much like him. I admire his skill. Much of his material is funny. But I don’t like the whole, “whisky-soaked, cigar smoking, redneck who got rich and smokes pot” routine. For one thing, it strikes me the way most country music does: inauthentic. And not only does his audience seem to eat up the act, they think he’s wise. (And just to offend educated liberals too: I have a similar problem with Louis CK.)

Despite my general problems with him, White’s “You Can’t Fix Stupid” routine is actually kind of sweet—or as close as he comes to it. He’s saying that you shouldn’t marry for looks (actually “looks alone”). He says that you can fix pretty much any physical defect (all referred to females, of course; he looks like he might be getting to lap band surgery territory himself); but you can’t fix stupid. I have my own problems with this because I think the whole idea of intelligence is kind of a myth. But the overall idea is that you should marry someone because of what’s inside, not what’s outside. So hooray!

But what on earth is a sign that reads “You Can’t Fix Stupid!!” doing at an anti-immigration demonstration? I really don’t know. I fear that it is saying that people from Mexico and Central America are stupid. I hate to think that. In addition to everything else, it is demonstrably false. An unaccompanied 7-year-old who makes it all the way from El Salvador through Mexico to the United States boarder, is not stupid. And in general, the people who come here illegally are the most intelligent and motivate of people. I have far more respect for them than some random American whose only brilliance was that he was born here.

The problem is, I can’t find another compelling explanation for the sign. It could refer to the government’s response to the crisis. But I really think that’s reaching. If we can’t fix the stupidity of the government, then why are these people demonstrating. And barring any truly bizarre explanations, like the protesters also selling tickets to an upcoming Ron White appearance, I can’t think of anything else. If anyone else has any ideas, I’d appreciate hearing them. Because I really don’t like to think of my fellow Americans like this.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

3 thoughts on ““You Can’t Fix Supid!!”?!

  1. Oops — didn’t mean that rappers don’t slip subversive stuff into their work. Of course, many do, especially the independent-label ones. Just that the big-ticket "redneck icons" and "Black icons" are largely both media marketing creations, skilled to be sure, while careful to keep cultivating a persona of pretending to be just like their target audience. They’re not. They’re richer. They are also more talented in ways that make them oodles of money; not the same thing as being more talented people overall. (I guarantee you I’m better at changing adult diapers for disabled people than Ian McKellan, and you’re better at math than he is!)

  2. White has some great riffs; particularly the ones where he challenges the preconceptions of his audience. He’s actually veered towards making fun of homophobia before:

    But he’s aware of his target demographic, and never pushes them too far from their comfort zone. What hugely successful comic does?

    It’s interesting that many people who like modern "country" cultural signifiers — for being "like them" — dislike the cultural signifiers of American Blacks, particularly rap music which American Blacks feel is recorded by people "like them." Both cultural signifiers are largely meant to appeal to poor people, and largely created by rich people whose political activity for poor people is mostly nonexistent. I mean, FDR talked like a plutocrat and was a rich plutocrat and helped poor people. The vast majority of popular figures seen by poor Americans as representing them today are marketing creations. They have no more connection to the demographic they are calculated to represent than Taco Bell has to Mexican food.

    From all the redneck-chic comics, though, I do tolerate White more than the others. He slips a surprising bit of subversion in there now and then.

  3. @JMF – "What hugely successful comic does?" Well: Andy Kaufman, Kristen Schaal (ever seen her "taint monologue"?). But I get your point. And certainly White is far better than Larry the Cable Guy. At least White has some wit and is clearly intelligent.

    You are right about media creations. And now there is even a media creations industry industry in the form of all these trumped up talent shows. Terry Fator is such a thing–one of the most witless mediocrities ever–who dumped his wife and married a supermodel as soon as he made it.

    On the FDR issue, I’ve always had a question. I assume you read Thomas Frank’s most recent article at [i]Salon[/i]. You can look at them as much the same. There is an argument that I used to make to fellow libertarians: FDR did what he had to in order to stop the socialist revolution. The truth is that he did some good things for the poor, but he left the powerful in power. Obama too seems to have done the very minimum that could be done after the crash of 2008.

    I’m not saying I buy that reading of FDR. But regardless of his intent, I think that was the result and conservatives should show him more respect.

    The connection of [i]what[/i] talents a person has determining their wealth is one of the big questions facing us. I think that people should be paid [i]more[/i] to do dirty, boring, and dangerous work. But in general, it is just the opposite.

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