An Epidemic of Stupidity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

July 5, 2011
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In this media-focused world, the things we see and hear in the movies, on TV, and on the radio influence us all. Some of these influences are benign or even beneficial to the forming minds of youth. But many others provide young people with questionable messages, for example, the MTV hits “Jersey Shore” and “My New BFF.” The stars of these shows do not commit technically immoral acts; they simply commit mindless ones. The lack of blatantly immoral behavior leads many viewers to conclude that the shows are harmless. We can recognize when behavior lacks common sense, however, the greater danger is that we have been conditioned by the media to view mindlessness as acceptable.

As an intelligent young woman, I am disgusted with TV programs and movies that promote mindless behavior. The stars of these shows demonstrate to young people – particularly girls – that it is attractive to be dumb. That idea feeds into other self-image issues that girls already experience, and I believe this is affecting the future of our nation. If we want to have any hope for our society, we must stop this epidemic of stupidity.

Mixed in with all the blatant messages that young people are gathering from the media is a subliminal implication that it is attractive to be dense – especially for young women. Paris Hilton, for example, is known for a variety of mindless escapades, such as the now very public sex tape she made when she was 19. Hilton has also readily admitted that she is not familiar with common knowledge, including the function of the Walmart stores and the capital city of England. Despite these intellectual failings, Hilton – whose mindlessness has inspired the term “celebutard” – has been linked romantically to the rich and famous – models, musicians, actors, and businessmen – showing young women that desirable men find her vapidity attractive. These negative examples lead girls to imitate Hilton in order to gain male attention; this begins young – perhaps as early as grade school – and only escalates during the teen years.

As Devin McKinney states in his article “Look at Those Stupid Girls,” “It's long been axiomatic that many girls, at a certain age, stop raising their hands in class so much. As they become teenagers, they begin deferring to boys intellectually and socially, ‘dumbing down' in male company for fear of intimidating those jocks and studs who might favor them with a sleazy come-on.”

By promoting the “stupid girl” image, the media prevents young women from avoiding issues of body image and acceptance. While it is true that many eating disorders are caused by depression or abuse, many begin with a yearning to be attractive and accepted. Some girls will try almost anything to gain boys' attention, including dumbing down, taking up a crash diet, or getting a spray tan.

The “stupid girl” image has also caused many to believe that if they are attractive to the opposite sex, they hold a certain amount of power over others of their own sex. McKinney states that “girls corrode their throats and gut their frames with eating disorders, and teach themselves to conceive of other women as potential usurpers of sexual power and male attention.” This competition between women that is modeled on TV can become fierce – the women of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” fight each other tooth and nail for ridiculous reasons, resulting in attention from the cameras and, ultimately, their male partners.

Competition between women can also prevent many from escaping this culture of “stupid girls.” Many times, in the schoolyard or classroom, a girl who tries to do or say something intelligent will be ridiculed rather than respected. Throughout my life, I have often experienced this “trial by jury,” each ending in the verdict of “guilty of being a know-it-all.”

Some people may view the “stupid girl” trend as a simple display of childishness. If this were the case, the idea of girls playing dumb would not alarm thinking people as it does. However, the immaturity of youth is not to blame; stupid girls are growing up to be stupid women and having children. What will these mothers teach the future leaders of our nation? Will they teach their daughters to always wear makeup and encourage their sons to pursue ditzy girls? If this cycle continues, our country will be run into the ground in a matter of a few generations!

As an intelligent person, it pains me to see my friends and classmates overcome by the epidemic of stupidity ravaging our society. They are following the lead of certain celebrities who demonstrate that stupidity is attractive. This feeds into the self-image issues girls already experience without input from the media. If we are to have any hope for our future, we must stop this epidemic of stupidity.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

prettymystic said...
Feb. 11, 2016 at 12:12 pm
you are so wrong about mindlees
TheSihlouettedMan said...
Jun. 12, 2013 at 9:22 am
THANK GOD!!!! I never thought I'd meet another person who shares my beliefs in this messed up world today!!!!!! I got to admit, I was getting scared, and I've got to say, your article is a sight for sore eyes. Thanks for this, I really needed it. And p.s. I've got an article pending, it's called 'This Article Wants Your Attention' I really think you'd like it.
WareHitoriaruki This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm
The thing I fear most is that these shows are being broadcast to the heavens... I swear if an advanced extraterrestrial race picks these up, they may just decide we aren't capable of intellectual development, and just decide to "clense" this world.
Katsview This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 2, 2012 at 8:49 pm
Hey good job. I was really surprised . . . This doesn't happen at my school- or at least, I don't see it. I definitely don't try to "dumb down", and am very happy excelling at school. Congrats! :)
Sarrawr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm
Hey, thanks. I totally just found out that I'm getting in the magazine and it's kind of a shocker. I figured that a lot more people would dislike my article than like it.
lzcelloplayer said...
Sept. 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Wow, I truly agree with you. I see a lot of TV shows, and I see most of the girl characters act "stupid". I think the media has a very large impact on what a girl should be like. And I also think that it is very stereo typical that a girl should act dumb. In other words, I think acting stupid is stupid. 

This was well written and I like the usage of quotes. Congratulations on getting it in the magazine! 


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