Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

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It’s just possible that I got enough sleep last night.  I say it’s possible because, although I got up at two thirty, I also went to bed very early, and I seem to be functional.  I did not get enough sleep the night before last, however, and that’s how I ended up watching a bunch of episodes of Bait Car.

I need to be honest here:  I watch a fair amount of true crime on television.  I am not, however, enamoured of most true crime reality shows.  Cops bores me, largely because it feels like the same thing over and over and over again.  Apparently, most everyday police work consists of trying to get people who spend all their time drinking to stop doing whatever they shouldn’t be doing when they drink. 

And these people do a lot of things when they’re drinking, too.  Mostly, they drive cars.  This is not a good sign.

What kept me glued to Bait Car for half an hour was that, next to the people on Cops, the ones on Bait Car–no, I can’t finish that sentence.  If you’ve never seen Bait Car, the premise is fairly simple.  Police trying to catch car thieves put out a nice car somewhere near where there have been other car robberies, leave the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition, and wait.   The nice car is equipped with technology that will allow the police to lock the doors and shut off the engine once the thief starts to drive it away.

Now, I feel about the people who go for this sort of the way I do about the people who get caught on To Catch a Predator.   I mean, come now, really.  By this time, most of these guys must know that the fourteen year old in the chat room probably isn’t a fourteen year old, and most of the guys who get caught on Bait Car must know that a shiny new Ford Escalade left often with its keys in the ignition in a bad neighborhood is probably a bait car.

This would not take all that much to figure out if these people would, you know, think about it.   These shows remain on the air because these people don’t think about it. 

But what utterly fascinated me about Bait Car was that I was surprised, half the time, that the thieves managed to steal the car even with all that help from the bait car police.   One duo couldn’t figure out how to use an automatic transmission gear shift–that’s automatic transmission.  It took two and a half minutes of air time for these guys to figure out how to put the car in drive.  They ended up yanking at the thing until it popped by simple force majeur.   If it hadn’t, they’d probably still be there, wondering why they couldn’t get the car to go.

I don’t usually have a lot of patience for complaints about entrapment in things like this, but here I could see it.   No matter how larcenous the hearts of these guys were, some of them wouldn’t have committed a crime for the simple reason that they wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to do it. 

Which, you know, says something.

The other show I found myself drifting into was this thing called Southern Fried Stings, which seems to be dedicated to proving on video that the whole dumb hillbilly Southerner stereotype is absolutely true.

My favorite one of these was a clip of an arrest that had originally been filmed by a local TV version of Cops, called County Law, that followed around behind the county Sheriff’s department. 

The cops drive up to this one house, nice little ranch, to arrest a woman on outstanding warrants.  The door is answered by the woman’s mother, who looks at the cameras outside and yells, “County Law!  Am I on County Law?”

Having been assured that this is, indeed, being filmed for an episode of County Law, the mother gets so happy she can’t stand it, racing around the place yelling “County Law!  I’m on County Law!”

In the meantime, one of the policemen is inside arresting the daughter, while the second one keeps trying to get some information. 

Which doesn’t happen, because the mother keeps racing around the room yelling “County Law!  I’m on County Law!  County Law!”

From the back you hear the daughter:  “Mama, will you shut up?  I’m being arrested here.”

“County Law!  County Law!”

The policemen were having to work overtime not to crack up.

Okay, I’ll admit.  I rather liked the old lady.  I think the cops did, too.  She didn’t seem to be doing anybody any harm, and she was having a lot of fun.  She also had an accent out of The Beverly Hillbillies. 

There are a lot of these shows out there, shows whose entire point seems to be highlighting stupid people or people exhibiting stupid behavior.  There are several versions of a thing called World’s Dumbest–criminals, daredevils, partiers,  I don’t know what else.  There’s Southern Fried Videos. 

I’m forgetting titles, which probably means I am tired. 

The theme is always the same, though–many of our fellow citizens are complete idiots, and it’s fun to watch them screw up.

When I get really, really tired, I think this is depressing. 

Yes, stupid is always with us, and sometimes stupid is very funny to watch.

But you’d think I could come up with better uses of my time.

Written by janeh

June 4th, 2011 at 4:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Stupid Is As Stupid Does'

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  1. All I can say is (1) this is very common, and (2) I never understood it. My sense of humor gets as far as culture and personality clash, but just won’t stretch to stupid.

    But it’s VERY common. Look how many shows like that there are to choose from–and not just “reality” TV. Don’t forget the many situation comedies based on stupidity, ignorance, or misunderstandings of the obvious.

    For decades of my life, some loved one or family member would shout “look! Look! Stupid people! Right there on TV, being stupid!” Then I would take my book and go somewhere there wasn’t a TV to read or paint tin soldiers.

    After a while, there would be a knock on the door. It would be a family member wanting to know why I was being so anti-social.

    I never actually threw a book at any of them. I take care of my books.


    4 Jun 11 at 6:51 am

  2. Australia has cop shows but it sounds like the US has many more of them. I sometimes watch a program called “Border Patrol” about customs and immigration.

    Its amazing how often people get caught trying to bring in undeclared food. The card given to all passengers leaving an international flight clearly asks if you have any food or plant material.

    Just plain stupid. (Australia has strict quarentine rules. Don’t try to bring in food!)


    5 Jun 11 at 9:10 pm

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