dir. Nerenberg

Opens Fri May 21

Clinton Street Theater

Recently a chart was posted on the internet which depicted the I.Q.s of voters and their political affiliations. The stated result was that Democrats scored significantly higher in intelligence than their GOP counterparts. I personally received this link a number of times from liberal acquaintances, along with their gleeful remarks celebrating the scientific proof of Republican stupidity. Unfortunately for my supposedly smart liberal friends, this chart turned out to be a hoax, and their snickering came to an abrupt halt.

Don't get me wrong; these people are extremely intelligent. And yet, because their hatred for Republicans is all encompassing, they happily accepted the proposition that they were smarter than everyone else--which makes them pretty stupid.

Since stupidity runs rampant, often appearing in both the dumb and smart alike, it's amazing the subject has never been given a full scientific treatment. However, documentarian Albert Nerenberg and his film Stupidity, have taken a step in the right direction.

The first thing we learn about stupidity is that none of the people interviewed can define it. However, they do seem to know it when they see it. Nerenberg makes the case that in actuality, we know much more about the concept of intelligence--even though stupidity causes much more damage in the world. Using experts, Nerenberg gives us a guided tour of how 20th-century scientists developed the I.Q. (intelligence quotient) test, and the surprising origins of words like "idiot," "moron," and "imbecile." An even more interesting theory is how corporations, politicians, and the entertainment industry have learned to use "stupidity" to sell their products.

Of course, where would a documentary like this be without a section dedicated to the stupefying stupidity of George W. Bush? However, in a surprising move, Nerenberg postulates that this President--who was born in Connecticut and attended Yale--actually uses the disguise of a stupid Texan hick to deflect questions and connect with "the common man." Pretty smart, for a stupid person.

And while Nerenberg's fun and mostly enjoyable documentary may be a bit light in the loafers when it comes to substance, at least it's not just "preaching to the choir." He, unlike some of my liberal friends, understands he's stupid, too.