In the wake of the Super Bowl a lot of friends, bloggers, blogging friends and friends of bloggers are decrying, as usual, the quality of spots that ran during the Bacchanal that pits one group of steroidal black men with no affiliation with a particular city against another similar group similarly unaffiliated, all led, of course, by a brainy white man, often one who is married to an international supermodel who has more breasts than brains.
What we are left with, when all the sound and fury calms is the assertion that Super Bowl spots suck because they appeal to the "lowest common denominator," though I for one think that any group called the lowest common denominator has no idea what lowest common denominator means.
I've often ruminated about what's happened in our nation to our collective intelligence. How is it possible to have "serious" presidential candidates who don't believe in evolution? How is it possible that our entire nation has no comprehension of American history? Is there lead in our collective pipes? Has our education "system" collapsed under its "systemhood"? (Should education even be a system?) Have we become so intellectually flaccid because we've been anesthetized because there's a flat screen every 33-inches in this country loudly blaring insipidities over and over until that's all we talk about?
I happen to think the dumbing down of everything is our fault. As an industry. We've bought into this notion that we have to appeal to our audience. That appealing to them is our measure of success regardless of what appeals to us--we never enter the equation. We're too busy thinking about what other people might like and we forget what we think is good.
Over the weekend I pulled a muscle in my left calf and I'm left fairly incapacitated. I can walk, navigate stairs, stand on the subway, but it all hurts like a sonofabitch. The good graces of my wife had me elevate my leg, rest it on an old ottoman (those Turks really come in handy now and again) and ice my appendage. I turned on Turner Classic Movies last night and caught 15 minutes of Jack Benny starring in Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 comedy "To Be or Not to Be."
I'm sure Lubitsch was told people wouldn't get things, that Jack Benny's delivery was too slow, that too many jokes became leitmotifs--that people would lose the thread.
He ignored the lowest common denominator. And so should we.
Create things that are smart.
You'll find your audience appreciates it.