Memo: Youthful Ignorance Is Not Cute


In today’s New York Observer, fashionable curmudgeon Simon Doonan comments on “the new stupidity.” In his words, “Young people today are breathtakingly stupid.”

He amends this: “Young people today are not stupid, they are bright and ambitious, but they are horribly cursed with a breathtakingly narrow frame of reference.” This is the same phenomenon that Joe Queenan, in one of the most scathing literary takedowns of recent years, termed “self-congratulatory ignorance.”

On a daily basis I see comments here that impress me with readers’ breadth of knowledge both esoteric and pop-cultural. Since many of these issue from people of this selfsame generation, it’s some reason for optimism. But I still found myself screaming at the screen while watching this clip from the HBO documentary Smash Hit Camera, on infamous paparazzo Ron Galella.

And y’know, it’s not even the ignorance of cultural iconography that’s troubling. It’s the sense that it’s not a problem. And that there’s no need to, say, fill those gaps with a visit to Wikipedia or the hundred other sources of information that are, ironically, closer to hand than ever before.

Note: this image was described on Shutterstock as “llustration of a defeated little boy who is failing in school; wearing a dunce cap, drawing on a notebook paper background.”

The New Stupidity [NY Observer]

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