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How Camest Thou In This Pickle?

How Camest Thou In This Pickle?

Alonso to his butler Stephano
The Tempest–Act V, Scene 1
–William Shakespeare

Kelly Pickler was a finalist on the television reality show “American Idol,” which blows Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame all to hell. She has a moderately good country voice, is more than moderately attractive, and is monumentally stupid.

Lest you think I’m being judgmental, I refer you to the current sensation on YouTube, that great arbiter of American intellect (“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”—H.L. Mencken). The video depicts her appearance on the game show, “Are You Smarter Than A Third-Grader,” which apparently, she is not. (Click here to view)

Ms. Pickler indicated that she believed Europe to be a country, where they spoke French, but perhaps French was the country, and that she had never heard of Hungary, though she was familiar with turkey. (I’m not capitalizing “turkey” because I don’t believe she was talking about the ancestral home of Constantinople, if you get my drift.)

She was quite bemused by all this, though Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian and host, seemed to progress from amused to stunned to physically ill. Ms. Pickler absolutely reveled in her stupidity, teetering not only on her four-inch heels but also, methinks, on the brink of sentience.

And so the metaphysical question: Does an “artist” or celebrity (thinking Paris Hilton here, a Pickler without the central nervous system, if you know what I mean) need to know anything? That is, are they thought less of by their adoring public, or do they sell less, or demand less money, or have less access to the media?

It appears that au contraire is in order.

If anything, arrant idiocy and a profound lack of understanding about the world count for you, not against you. Now, you may make the case that so long as one is superb at one’s craft or profession, worldliness and sophistication and education are not vitally important. And I might make the case back that if those traits were nevertheless demanded, then gifted athlete Michael Vick might yet be making $25 million a year instead of serving two years in prison for promoting dog fighting and killing dogs. He may have just resisted all that bad advice around him.

Who knows, perhaps an athlete or two would have resisted the blandishments of performance enhancing, illegal substances?

Maybe our politicians wouldn’t lie to us so much if they had more respect for the voters as peers who were intelligent and demanding? Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

I’m stupefied watching Kelly Pickler (at least allowing us to share a cognate). I like some of her songs and she’s produced some good videos, as these things go. But to be so unabashedly happy to display world-class ignorance isn’t the mark of someone who is supremely confident or content. It’s rather the trait of someone who doesn’t have a clue outside of her particular talent and specialty. Is that the model we want for our kids or the standard we aspire to for our society?

How camest us in this Pickler? It’s a fool’s story….

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 1

  • Tony

    December 27, 2007

    WOW… I’m not saying I am the best at geography, but she had to be acting. I mean, can anybody be that intellectually challenged [stupid]?

    I guess you can go pretty far in life based on some talent and looks. However, it will only take you so far. I would be embarrassed if I were her parents.

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