Thursday, January 29, 2004

Memo to all you Super Bowl advertising whores: YOU ARE DUMB.
Yes, Sunday's the big game. The final showdown. When that one team and that other team will meet on the field of battle to determine which one of them is the best. This year. It's a very exciting time for millions of people who are not me.
And because millions of notmes will have their eyeballs glued to their televisions for three hours or so, the Super Bowl has been a favorite for advertisers, who spend a couple million on airtime to try and convince all of you that they are fine purveyors of products and/or services worthy of your hard-earned dough.
And that's fine.
But in the last few years, something odd has happened. A strange, inappropriate sense of importance has surrounded these ads. The ads have become, somehow, an event in and of themselves. The ads are reported on, viewed, and reviewed by people with no interest in the game themselves. These people are what we at You Are Dumb describe as "utter morons".
They're COMMERCIALS, people. I don't care how much they spend to make them, who shows you their bellybutton, or how much computer power they use to make that bellybutton tell jokes in John Laroquette's voice, they're still advertisements. The same things that interrupt your favorite show, get painted all over the side of your buses, and pop up in front of your Internet porn. Advertisements that the companies are constantly finding new, annoying ways to keep you from ignoring.
But come Super Bowl time, you're all too willing to do their work for them, aren't you.
Already this week, there are dozens upon dozens of newspaper articles previewing the ads. PREVIEWING THE ADS. That an advertisement will be appearing on television is NOT NEWS. Unless it's either the first ad to feature explicit bestiality, or an ad that kills everyone who watches it in seven days, I don't want to hear about it.
Now, if an ad DOESN'T appear, that's news. Like CBS, which won't run an ad critical of the president, because it doesn't run political or message ads during the Super Bowl unless, apparently, they call everyone who smokes pot an America-hating terrorist stooge. But that's probably a different memo.
In fact, I think it's time to introduce the Dumbness Defenestration Punishment Chart, which shows you what floor's window you should throw yourself from if you find yourself contemplating certain DUMB behaviors:

Thanks to this handy graphic, you will know what to do in the event that YOU ARE DUMB.

Monday, January 26, 2004

The Return Of Joystick Joe

Memo to Joe Lieberman. YOU ARE STILL DUMB.
Man, it really must suck to be you right now. Dean and Kerry stealing all the headlines, you're polling around the same as Kucinich, your former running mate dissed you on national TV... it's a long way to fall. So I understand why you'd want to recapture some of your past glory.
Doesn't make you any less of a dumbass, of course.
Ol' Joe went back to his Bennett-loving, filth-hating, socially conservative roots on the campaign trail. But with the Mortal Kombat card played out, how the heck would Joystick Joe employ his classic technique of finding a years-old game everyone already knew about to "discover" and decry for its vileness?
"Video games have gotten better over time. But there's a couple out there that are horrendous.You ought to see one called 'Grand Theft Auto'. The player is rewarded for attacking a woman, pushing her to the ground, kicking her repeatedly and then ultimately killing her, shooting her over and over again."
Joe, you unrepentant, ignorant monkeyhumper. Anyone with half a brain could deconstruct that paragraph faster than the reanimated corpse of Pauline Kael hopped up on crystal meth. However, as a candidate, you're dealing with potential voters here, rather than people with half a brain, so lemme break it down.
First, "there's a couple out there that are horrendous". Note the accidental slip of the singular "there's" instead of "there are". Very Freudian, that, because the man only has one example. If there are a couple out there that are horrendous, list 'em both. Or list 'em all, if there's more than a couple. I'll help. Roadkill! Postal 2! DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball! Come on, Joe! Hundreds of games were released last year alone. You had to be offended by more than GTA.
"You ought to see one called 'Grand Theft Auto'". Oh, where to begin. The only game called "Grand Theft Auto" came out for the PC in February of 1998. So, on what approaches the six year anniversary of the series, Joe Lieberman is telling New Hampshire residents they "ought to see" it. I mean, yeah, it's New Hampshire, but it's not like they're Amish or something. They've got Targets there.
And then, of course, the meat of it, in which Joystick Joe uses his classic stylee to completely misrepresent the content of a game. I mean, I'm not saying that Grand Theft Auto III and GTA Vice City (the two games, one released in October 2001, the other a year later, that he's obviously lumping together) are paragons of kid-friendly virtue that stress the value of sharing and non-violent problem-solving techniques, but what he says about them is blatantly false.
First, the game is not gender-biased at all. You would be "rewarded" in exactly the same way by the game if you did those things to a man, and in fact, over the course of the game, you end up doing that type of thing to a lot more men than women.
Second, the "reward" is a paltry few bucks, because it's a simulated mugging. All you get is a little cash, and sometimes you don't even get that. There is no other reward, in game terms, for killing random pedestrians. Oh, wait, you get a single point toward a meaningless ranking, and you need a million points to have the meaningless "Godfather" ranking.
And you don't push people to the ground. They fall on the ground after you punch them enough. And once they fall to the ground, that's when you get the meager reward. Kicking or shooting them while they're down gets you no reward whatsoever, and, in fact, makes it more likely that you'll get caught and get the police after you.
I mean, for fuck's sake, most people who go off on GTA at least have the common decency to correctly reference the stupid prostitute thing. Sure, they blow it all out of proportion, so to speak, but at least they get it factually correct. Joe didn't even go that far. He just made some shit up because he's never played the game, probably never seen it actually being played, just got told about it by some aide who realizes that when it's GOOD news when a poll has you at 12%, you're deeply and utterly screwed.
For being consistent, unrepentant, and wrong yet again on what's supposed to be one of his "big issues", Joe Lieberman is not only DUMB, but has actually managed to beat George W. Bush as the first politician to be recognized by this site. Which surprises the hell out of me, let me tell you.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Residents Of Hidden Valley

Memo to the residents of the Hidden Valley: YOU ARE DUMB.
I mean, OK, I like a bit of ranch dressing as much as the next non-Atkins, salad-eating American. But this does not mean that I want to add ranch flavor to every single aspect of my life.
And even if I did want to do that, I'd be able to figure out the incredibly elaborate process on my own, thank you.
You see, for those of you who have not seen the ads, the fine people at Hidden Valley are spending millions of dollars to inform an ungrateful nation that you can add ranch flavor to ordinary foods by... adding ranch powder to ordinary foods.
Of course, they're not nearly so general in the actual ads. No. They have to be specific. They have to tell you that, through arcane processes learned from the ancient Druids, by merely adding ranch powder to salsa, you can turn salsa into... ranch salsa.
I mean, before this fifteen second spot, I had merely been content with ordinary salsa. There was a void in me, a void I didn't even know existed. A void in the exact shape of a hideous culinary abomination known as Ranch Salsa.
Two foods per 15-second spot, about four different fifteen-second spots, usually shown in pairs. So, if you watch a lot of Food Network, and who doesn't, during any given hour you will watch, mouth agape, as dozens of people are not only informed of the process by which X is transmogrified into Ranch X, but are actually astonished that such a thing is possible.
"My God! What deviltry is this? My potatoes are infused with a nigh-otherworldly zip I had previously only associated with salad dressing and 82% of the TGI Friday's menu! It is as if they were... RANCH POTATOES! And you are saying that I can achieve this effect on my own, in my home, without thousands of dollars of expensive machinery, or a framed baseball jersey hung on my wall next to an alligator-head plaque? Do not toy with my emotions so. It cannot be! I weep creamy ranch tears of delight at your alchemic powder's abilities. I am born anew!"
That's not a direct transcription, but it captures the feel pretty well, I think.
And, really, who besides the Hidden Valleyans have been sitting around thinking that NOT ENOUGH SHIT TASTES LIKE RANCH AS IT IS? By 2015, scientist have determined that there will be only two flavors left on Earth: Ranch and Ice. Oh, honey mustard and cheesecake will put up valiant fights, but in the end, there can be only... two. And ranch will be one of those two.
The valley's not hidden. It's just that nobody outside wants to go in there for fear of becoming Ranch Long Pig, and the people inside can't figure out how to leave. Because THEY ARE DUMB.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

All You Atkins Melonfarmers

Memo to all you Atkins motherfuckers: YOU ARE DUMB.
OK, go ahead and do your little low-carb thing if you want to. That's fine. I'm not a nutritionist, I don't know what the deal with the various studies are, I don't care whether or not your friend lost a ton of weight on it. None of this matters to me. None of this is why you are dumb.
Maybe it's not even your fault that you're part of a fad. An "emerging market". A consumer group. A ripe, lush cash cow for the food industry to grind into tiny bits laced with the prions of insanity. But you're caught up in something, and that something gets bigger and dumber every single day. So you may want to consider some cost/benefit analysis, look at the people you're being associated and lumped in with, and just eat some damn ravioli and buy some bigger pants. Seriously.
It was bad enough just a few scant months ago, when the carb-watchers started infiltrating the public space with their discussions and their ketosis and their "no cake for me, please, I'm watching my carb intake". That was annoying, but that's OK, because people obsessing about what they shove in their (now crustless) pie-holes is just so much background noise.
I mean, let's face it. We all know why you love the Atkins.
Editor's Note: In case you haven't figured it out yet, the term "Atkins" is being used as a broad catchall for Atkins, South Beach, and various low-carb eating plans, in addition to the so-called "diets" of people who saw on Regis and Kelly that "carbs are bad" and are thus ordering bowls full of stuff at Mexican restaurants.
You love the Atkins because it tells you what you want to hear. I'm not passing judgment on the effectiveness, short-term or long term. I'm just saying that this Atkins shit is telling you that multigrain whole-wheat nut-berry bread is the stool of Satan, which is something you secretly thought in your deepest heart of hearts anyway. But that's fine.
Now, though, you're being marketed to. And because you're being marketed to, we are now being bombarded with retardorays from the food industry, who have seized on the meme that carbohydrates are some kind of Dioxin-level threat to humanity and are desperate to point out to a protein-addled country that their products contain less of the dreaded C-Word than their other dreaded C-word, competitors.
So first we had the specialty foods. The low-carb energy bars, the low-carb food replacements. There's a specialty market that claims to offer low-carb POTATOES, and how they manage that is anybody's guess. And that was bad.
And then the chain restaurants started pandering, and TGI Friday's started offering a licensed Atkins menu, and the rest followed suit. If you're eating at TGI Friday's, odds are you're either surrounded by people you hate, or you're one of the people surrounding people who hate you, so whether or not you can get "potato skins" with slabs of raw pork replacing the potato is the least of your worries.
But now everyone's in on the act. Low-carb beer, because we apparently needed something new for Guinness-drinkers to make fun of Middle America for. Bunless Whoppers. BUNLESS WHOPPERS. You get it in a bowl. A Whopper in a bowl. Without ketchup or mayo, but with bacon. The AP story calls this a sign that "the burger wars are taking a turn for the healthy." I call it DUMB IN A BOWL.
Not convinced yet? Check under the sea. The fine people at Star-Kist have seen fit to remind us that their pouch full of tuna has.... zero carbs. Yes, that's right. A plastic pouch filled with nothing but chopped-up fish meat, and the public needs to be sold on its carbless qualities. There is, apparently, a significant subset of the population that thinks that FISH ARE MADE OUT OF BREAD.
Oh, and Frito-Lay is working on low-carb tortilla chips. God only knows what they'll make the things out of instead of, you know. CORN, but at least whatever vat-grown concoction of plastics, chemicals, and cow ass the chips are formed from, it won't have very many carbs in it.
Your choice is before you. On one plate - some toast, a candy bar, some fettucine Alfredo, and a couple of Valium. On the other, ten pounds of bacon and twenty pounds of DUMB. Choose wisely.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Johnny Hart

Memo to Johnny Hart: YOU ARE DUMB.
Just go away. Take your prosletyzing cavemen and your 1953 sensibilities and just walk, OK? Please? Think of the children.
It's bad enough that you're part of the insidious cabal that's become this entrenched, comics-page oligarchy. You and the Hagar guy and the Blondie guy and the Beetle Bailey guy who've been writing the same joke for 40+ years. They're even passing the strips on to their descendants! Hereditary unfunniness! If any of these strips were submitted to editors as new strips, they'd be shown the door. But they stick around.
And why do they stick around? Old people. Old, scared people. Old, scared people who watch PAX-TV, and who would watch the Good Life network except that the newfangled digital cable box doesn't make any danged sense anyway and back in the day if you wanted to watch good wholesome Dragnet reruns all you had to do was turn the dial, not enter missile launch codes into some digital contraption.
These are the newspaper diehards. Since the dawn of time, they have received their news the old-fashioned way: on dead trees, hurled through the air by child labor. "B.C." and its ilk are there to appease these people, to give them an island of nostalgia in a cruel, uncaring world where people say "nipple" on television and nobody has a coronary in sheer outrage.
But "B.C." is the worst of the lot, because as bad as the rest are, they have the good sense to stay stupid and bland and keep their heads down. Hart, on the other hand, loves making points. He likes to have menorahs snuffed out to reveal crosses. He has cavemen talk about how great Jesus was at every opportunity. Depending on interpretation, he may, a couple of months ago, have compared Islam with an outhouse.
And then there's the latest uproar. Monday's strip will apparently feature the cavemen discussing failed Asian attempts to build an airplane, with the punchline "Two Wongs don't make a Wright."
Drink that in for a moment. Enjoy the rich complexity of how stupid and offensive the whole thing is. This would be AFTER Abercrombie and Fitch got in trouble for a similar joke, mind you. Not to mention trying to figure out from what moral high ground these cavemen, whose sole transportation innovation to date has been the Foot-Axle Unicycle, get to mock Chinese prehistoric aviation experiments. But Hart marches on, apparently blithly unaware of progress, his own storied past, and the fact that a major corporation got slapped down for doing something similar last year.
For this, and, come to think of it, for your entire body of work, Johnny Hart... YOU ARE DUMB.

Monday, January 12, 2004

The Media And The General Public

Memo to the media and the general public: YOU ARE DUMB.
Now I know it's a bit early in the life of the site to be passing out generalized proclamations like that, but I'm afraid it's true. Luckily, there are a series of exceptions which I will detail.
  1. If, as a member of the media, you did not concern yourself with Britney Spears' wedding and annulment (henceforth BSWAA), you are granted an exception.
  2. If, as a member of the media, you were forced to write about BSWAA, but did so under protest and refused to link the piece in any way with the song title "Oops, I Did It Again", you are granted an exception.
  3. If you are, specifically, a member of the media known as "Morning Radio Disc Jockey", and did not mention BSWAA in any way, shape or form, you are granted both an exception and a Special Commendation. Special Commendation not available to employees of classical music stations.
  4. If, as a member of the general public, you winced when listening to other members of the general public discuss BSWAA, you are granted an exception and the sympathies of
  5. If, as a member of the general public, you only engaged in workplace discussion of BSWAA in order to inform your co-workers that BSWAA was a non-event of epic proportions, you are granted an exception.
The rest of y'all are fuckin' dumb.
I mean, even by the devalued, prostituted, left-for-dead-by-the-side-of-the-road standard that separates "news" from "not news" these days, this is NOT NEWS. Not important. Not relevant in any single way, shape, or form to the daily lives of all but about half a dozen people on the planet, and even to most of them, who either participated in the incident or the aftermath, it ain't that huge.
It's not as if Ms. Spears nee Mrs. Alexander nee Ms. Spears actually did anything beyond the pale or particularly egregious. She killed no puppies, ate no dolphins, vomited on no Japanese officials, and does not receive a million bucks a year from Halliburton.
This is a non-event even by the standards of normal folk, much less pop stars. I mean, do we really need to devote an entire week-plus of the news cycle to someone who lived through a bad sitcom plot?
And you know what the topper is? We're going to be hearing about this for the rest of the Spears Spawn's lifespan. No major life event reportage will be complete without one paragraph memorializing her Vegas escapade. That paragraph will be there, I guarantee, when she gets married for real, when/if she breeds, and in her obituary. It'll be in 94.2% of the reviews of her next album. It is, from this point forward, an inescapable chunk of our cultural milieu, our psychic flotsam and jetsam.
And why? Why did this happen? Because, with the exception of those enumerated above, YOU ARE DUMB.

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The Chick In Line At Target

Memo to The Chick In Line At Target: YOU ARE DUMB.
I simply don't understand it. You didn't look 50. You looked young. Full of the fruit of life. Ready to take on the world.
You were also inexplicably ringing up everything except organic bug repellent as one order, and the organic bug repellent as a separate order, but that's OK. You have your reasons, and I'm sure that while it looks odd to the casual observer, if you were given the opportunity toexplain your motives, I would nod, say "that makes sense", and "thank you for your time", and "enjoy your organic bug repellent, hope it keeps those bugs off your radiant youthful skin" and other pleasantries. And we would go our separate ways, with me completely unaware that YOU ARE DUMB and you completely unaware that you would be identified as DUMB on the Internet.
But something happened to change all of that. Technically, something happened to change half of that, because you are still, and will likely remain, blissfully unaware of your DUMB status.
It's when you went to pay for your organic bug repellent. With a credit card. And the credit card came up "invalid number". And you asked, in all seriousness, at Target, "You don't take Diner's Club?"
What is someone, in 2004, under 50, even DOING with a Diner's Club card in the first place, much less expecting it to work at Target? It is not 1976. The Diner's Club is now roughly equivalent to the Players' Club, except without the gravitas provided by having the late Telly Savalas as a spokesman.
Why not just whip out your library card and try to rent the organic bug repellent? Or attempt to trade a goat for it? At least that way, the poor cashier wouildn't have to call for backup to figure out how to respond, because everyone's heard of libraries, and everyone'sfamiliar with the barter system. Diner's Club, however, remains a puzzler, because it lies in a vague nebulous zone along with Datsun and Bankamericard, the land of abandoned brands.
For your poor grasp of appropriate tender in discount stores, I'm afraid that YOU ARE DUMB.

Thursday, January 1, 2004

Paul Douglas

Memo to Minneapolis meteorologist Paul Douglas: YOU ARE DUMB.

Mr. Douglas cut a radio promo for local 80's station WXPT, "The Mix". A station, I might add, that will probably be making its appearance on this page before 2004 is out.

This promo featured Mr. Douglas saying "I have a prediction that's guaranteed to be 100% correct. Lisa Wright rocks!"

Editor's note: Lisa Wright is one of the morning DJ's on Mix 104, which the dismal state of Minneapolis radio and the vagaries of reliable clock radio reception force me to wake up to.

Let's assume, for the moment, that Lisa Wright does rock. It's a big stretch, but we are brave souls. We can manage. So even if "Lisa Wright rocks" is 100%, pure, scientifically verified fact, determined to three decimal places with a precisely defined meaning for the verb "to rock" stored on a platinum-iridium tablet at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, Paul Douglas would STILL BE DUMB.

Because, and a meteorologist would be wise to remember this, THAT'S NOT A PREDICTION. It's either a bald-faced lie, an unfortunate opinion, or a verified fact, but since it's discussing the here and now state of Ms. Wright's rockingness, it ain't a prediction.

Ergo, we have no choice but to issue the following judgment upon Mr. Douglas: