The Seinfeldization of America

Seinfeld is the greatest show ever. I am not willing to argue that point, but are the pleasures it gives us worth the consequences its effects might have on the future of our civilization? If you have a long enough conversation with anyone with a sense of humor a reference to a Seinfeld episode will eventually pop up. The show was so spot on with its social commentary that one had to wonder whether real lives influenced the show or the show was so powerfully funny and rewatchable that its ethos began influencing our lives.

I’m not certain if you ever saw the movie Idiocracy. It is also one of my favorites. Its plot is that an average Joe wakes up hundreds of years in the future to find himself the smartest man in the world. His long slumber did not cause him to grow more intelligent, but rather it allowed everyone to grow dumber. Since all the Harvard educated Mensa members wait until they’re 40  to have one child while all the trailer trash high school drop-outs have six kids by the time they’re 25, the dumb eventually outnumber the smart. Crops are now watered with Gatorade and the president is a professional wrestler.

We are close to becoming an Idiocracy, but I fear Seinfeld could be the tipping point. One of the recurring themes of the show was that George, Jerry, and Elaine would go on a lot of dates, but there was always something wrong with their potential mate. The guy spoke too closely, the girl mumbled too much,  she looked too much like a female version of Jerry yadda yadda yadda.

This idea from the show has leaked into the mindset of urban dwellers of a certain age. A person must be utterly flawless for one to consider settling down with unless of course they are flawless, and then you find them so perfect that it’s really annoying.

The other day I was talking with an acquaintance visiting from the borough of Manhattan. He was probably about the same age as George Costanza. His below quote is in response to a question asking what happened to that girl I last saw him with.

“It just wasn’t working out.”

“What happened?”

“I like to ask a lot of rhetorical questions.”

“And she would answer them?”

“Yeah, well, kind of. I like to talk about little things. Like these heat lamps. I’d say don’t you think it’s weird how many heat lamps they have here and she’d say, ‘I don’t know what to say about that.’ Now, how am I supposed to respond to that? What am I supposed to say? It’s a conversation killer. Really, how can I respond to that?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“I thought you were a writer. What should I have said to her? ‘Hurry up dummy. Think of something to say.'”

He like many others have continued that search for their Prince Charming or Cinderella. I wish him good luck and hope my generation’s endless search doesn’t mean that only the unfunny are breeding.


2 thoughts on “The Seinfeldization of America

  1. Have to agree with you one hundred and sixty-seven percent! We are DEFINITELY headed for an Idiocracy, but honestly I don’t believe due to Seinfeld. Like you said, Jerry Seinfeld was very good at pulling the humor out of real life. So if it showed up on Seinfeld, it was already happening. The problem is now, there are no NEW Seinfeld episodes to reiterate how malignant society has become with cancerous ideals of who makes the perfect mate? I can only imagine the stories Seinfeld would have come up with had it ran on for another 10 years, well into this past decade. The show probably would have been cancelled because of seeming to poke fun at stuff people in this past decade took way too seriously.

    But the thing about Idiocracy that concerns me is not how it will affect the distant future, 500 years from now as the movie depicts, but the fact it could be happening within the next 50-100 years! To me, one of the many things, and perhaps one of the biggest things, that breeds inteligence is a concept called VALUES. Now this can be religious in nature or even just generalized family values or morals, per se. Values also help to encourage another highly important aspect to inteligence…COMMON SENSE! If a person with even reasonable inteligence is brought up with some sort of values, their common sense will be enhanced and these people will typically go on to make sound, moral, ethical, and wise decisions throughout life. Now this is just my opinion and there are exceptions to every rule, of course.

    BUT, when children come up in situations where it’s a single parent, divorcees, two moms, two dads, multiple step-mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, you get the picture…., parents more willing to do what it takes to live off the government than work for a living, the list could go on and on…even a highly inteligent child would have trouble deciphering a good value set to build upon under any of the conditions listed above. With that, being unsure of what constitutes a “moral” value set that is within reason, common sense begins to take a backseat to ANIMAL INSTINCTS, of which people pursue whatever they want, whenever they want and truly believe there are no consequences to their actions.

    Do I believe that people should be afraid of a man sitting in the sky throwing lightning bolts at them if they don’t behave? No! That’s archaic. But I do believe they should respect someone as they would want to be respected, and in turn respect themselves. Again though, that person has to have that support system to assist in this endeavor. Perfect example: My mother’s sister grew up in a reasonably good home, their father was an alcoholic, but he provided for his family. Gave them a good life, while their mother stayed at home with them. However, my aunt was always trying to “milk the system”, aka her parents, for everything she could. When my aunt got old enough to marry someone, she married a bum. Not just him, but the ENTIRE FAMILY! This family really reminded me of the people in Idiocracy, I kid you not. That relationship to them, despite her background of a “good family”, dragged her down into a world of drugs, laziness, selfishness, and ultimately death at 53 years of age, her husband having died the year before at the same age. However, her husband’s brother grew up in that “bum” atmosphere his entire life until he was an adult. One day my grandmother was fishing with him and as a child he said he didn’t like how his family acted and wished he could rise above. My grandmother told him that decision is up to him. From that moment on he made up his mind to do better than them, and he has.

    So in one case they had a good life and wasted it, the other started poorly and is still going strong in a positive direction. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but the underlying factor that determined both: one was for values, common sense and a willingness to strive above all because of one conversation…while the other tossed everything out the window for a life of doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. So from that example, you can see that there is still some hope for inteligence to thrive even under bad circumstances, but only if it gets the encouragement it so desires and needs. That make sense?

    Personally, I think you learn a lot from Seinfeld, even if you learn what NOT to do.:)

    • One of the lessons one could learn from Seinfeld is that being too smart can get you in trouble. George’s elaborate schemes, like those of Wile E. Coyote, might have worked more often if he would have simplified them.

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