Campus Life

Imminent Collapse

I See Dumb People

Since we are so deep in the midst of term, I consider it my duty to help inform some of my less-fortunate (ie, course VI) friends about what’s been happening in the world lately. I mean, when you’ve been coding and debugging for eighteen hours straight, looking for that one parenthesis you missed, or whatever the heck you do, the larger things that go on in the world just might not seem that interesting.

There’s been a lot of stuff that went on, too. We had the Oscars recently, which went the way everyone expected except for the few awards that didn’t (quoth my fiancée, “Melissa Etheridge!?”). Amidst crazy scandals, some high-up government official ended up stepping down (again): the Secretary of the Army “resigned” over the poor treatment soldiers were getting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Also, it’s already March. When tf did that happen?

But, perhaps the most significant development in the past week or two has been the airing of a TV show called, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” In my head, I call it, “Are You a Dumbass?” The show’s website ( says “every question is from a grade school textbook and the answers are elementary,” and I can personally vouch for its watchability. Basically, it’s like “Who wants to be a millionaire,” only you can get help by ‘copying’ or ‘cheating’ off an actual, real-life fifth grader. If you get all the questions right, which come in such categories as “fourth grade math” or “first grade geography,” I think you win a million bucks. I’m not sure, see, because nobody’s done it yet. Hence what I call it in my head.

Now, if you think about it, this show is a pretty brilliant idea. It combines the game-show fun of “Jeopardy” and “Millionaire,” the humiliation of “Fear Factor” and “Millionaire” (admit it, you saw at least one episode where Regis was shocked the contestant got it wrong), and the humor of “Weakest Link” and “Beauty and the Geek.” And, on top of all that, the final insult to the contestant’s intelligence: it’s hosted by Jeff Foxworthy! (Disclaimer: I don’t actually think Foxworthy’s dumb, or a dumbass. I mean, he was smart enough to do this show, after all. I just think he projects the aura of dumbass with a certain deftness that few others could pull off.)

I am thus, in my current capacity as a Campus Life writer (and not an Arts reviewer) recommending you watch this show. It’ll lift your spirits, make you feel smart again (something we could all use, entertain you, and, above all, shock you. Some people are really, really big dumbasses. There was an American history professor contestant, for instance, who was stumped by the question from the “fifth grade history” category: “who was the first president to be impeached?” Now, immediately I knew the answer was Andrew Johnson, but that’s only because I’m course 21 and thus know something besides math and science; you might have known it too, actually, but it isn’t that important if you didn’t. What is important is that this American history professor didn’t know such a basic question about American history. And, of course, all the fifth graders on the show (there’s about eight of them) knew the right answer, making this prof look even dumber. Man, what a dumbass.

The thing is, though, these kids are pretty damn good. There have been some tricky questions asked, such as the above random history or the following “third grade astronomy” question: “What constellation is the Big Dipper a part of?” Now, okay, we all know (perhaps after a quick Google search) the answer is Ursa Major or the Great Bear, but I think it just a bit suspicious that every single fifth grader knew the right answer to this, as well as every single other question ever asked. I mean, sure, the questions could have been lifted from these kids’ last exams or something, but even still it’s a bit fishy.

One look at the show’s message boards, however, brings me back to my senses. Yes, there are some saying, “This show’s a fake! The kids have been prepped, don’t fall for it!” But there are also others saying, “There was no president Andrew Johnson! The right answer is Andrew Jackson!!1” and “OMG, your so right, Andrew Johnson is a conspiracy!!” And seeing those reminded me of the true value of this show: it doesn’t really matter if it’s scripted or not, or if the kids have been prepped or not; what matters is that this show entertains, and that there really are some dumb people out there.

And if there’s anything that FOX has taught me, it’s that there’s nothing more American than laughing at and feeling superior to those who are dumber than you. Unless he happens to be the President of the United States, of course.