Stupidity Albert Nerenberg

Stupidity Albert Nerenberg
Stupid is as stupid does — that's as clear a definition as one might need — but in this Canadian documentary, Trailervision founder Albert Nerenberg delves deeper into the world of stupidity and finds it shamefully prevalent and yet disturbingly unexamined. (Does that make the stupid life not worth living?) Nerenberg isn't interested in the kind of stupidity that comes from a diminished mental capacity; he looks at wilful stupidity and the stupid things that seemingly smart people do every day. He explores our pop-cultural fascination with stupid stuff (Jackass), the deliberate dumbing down of media messages (newspapers are written to the literacy level of a ten-year-old, TV is even more limited in its eloquence), and in exploring this topic he gets some pretty smart people to comment on the subject. Scholar Noam Chomsky, filmmaker Joel Schumacher, silly walker John Cleese and TV host Bill Mahar all weigh in on what exactly stupidity is and why it seems so prevalent. (Pamela Anderson refused to participate.) One of the primary theses behind Nerenberg's film is to wonder why stupidity is such a slippery concept to grasp and why so few people are talking about it. Even the academics seem particularly stupid about something that Karl Marx described as the third largest force in human history and that Albert Einstein labelled, along with the universe, the only infinite thing he knew. (And he admitted he wasn't sure about the universe.) As a documentary, Stupidity accomplishes its two goals quite handily — it's a delightfully engrossing film to watch, because for whatever reason we like it when other people do stupid things (see the Darwin Awards). And because, for such a moronic topic, it applies some serious intellectual rigour to the subject. This DVD (the film originally ran on the Documentary Channel) explores stupidity even further, providing more in-depth interview footage of its participants, an interesting half-hour interview with director Nerenberg, commentary and an Ignorance Quotient test to see just how stupid you are. Less so after viewing this, I hope. (Microfilms, www.microfilmsinc.com)