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June 14, 2007 12:05 AM   Subscribe

Australian TV show The Chaser recently went to New York and asked some American citizens what date the September 11 attacks occurred on. Here are some of their answers.
posted by Effigy2000 (134 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.”
posted by carsonb at 12:18 AM on June 14, 2007


Almost too absurd to be believable, but if I'm figuring the math right, don't 150 million Americans have an IQ of below 100?
posted by rolypolyman at 12:19 AM on June 14, 2007


At the very least, you can say these people got on with their lives. But that's being charitable.
posted by now i'm piste at 12:19 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Golly gee, I wonder if they didn't include correct responses in this segment.
posted by stavrogin at 12:19 AM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


"What religion were they? They were stupid."
posted by pax digita at 12:21 AM on June 14, 2007


stavrogin: "Golly gee, I wonder if they didn't include correct responses in this segment."

While I'm sure that at least some of the people they asked knew the answer (and weren't shown for comedic effect), the fact that anyone living in America, and New York (where these vox pops were conducted) no less don't know what date, or year, or cities the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred in is surely a little worrying, is it not?

Having defended the supposed stupidity of Americans before, I'm well aware that this video is not indicative of the average level of intelligence of the average US citizen. But who cares, right? Let's just enjoy this particular 'digital Dorito' (as #1 would put it) for what it is; a chance to laugh at stupid people.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:21 AM on June 14, 2007


You have to wonder how many people he had to ask in order to get incorrect answers. My guess is that it took him a very long time to find those people. I hope.
posted by gfrobe at 12:25 AM on June 14, 2007


a chance to laugh at stupid people

Yeah, you gotta laugh to keep from crying.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:32 AM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yawn.

To paraphrase George Carlan: "Think about how stupid the average American is. And then realize, the average Australian is even dumber then that".
posted by delmoi at 12:35 AM on June 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


stavrogin: "Golly gee, I wonder if they didn't include correct responses in this segment."

Yes, but then it wouldn't be comedy- It's not a documentary.
posted by mattoxic at 12:40 AM on June 14, 2007


Jay Leno should try doing something like this. Stupid Americans are funny!

P.S. - Carlin.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:41 AM on June 14, 2007


Says the man who can't even spell "George Carlin".


But keep talking, dieu seul knows what this site would do without your priceless and completely ungrammatical input.
posted by Wolof at 12:41 AM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


To paraphrase George Carlan: "Think about how stupid the average American is. And then realize, the average Australian is even dumber then that".

Sorry wouldn't that be George Carlin?

/stupid australian ;-)
posted by Thoth at 12:42 AM on June 14, 2007


Nice paraphrasing delmoi

After all, we Aussies didn't elect Bush, twice.
posted by mattoxic at 12:43 AM on June 14, 2007


Who's buried in Grant's tomb?
posted by pruner at 12:45 AM on June 14, 2007


My tribe is more powerful and intelligent and fertile than your tribe!
posted by lifeless at 12:45 AM on June 14, 2007 [14 favorites]


delmoi: "Yawn.

To paraphrase George Carlan: "Think about how stupid the average American is. And then realize, the average Australian is even dumber then that".
"

Carlin also said "The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other going in opposite directions."

That's the nice thing about Carlin; he's an equal opportunity hater of stupid people.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:46 AM on June 14, 2007


Stupid Americans are funny!

True!
posted by kmennie at 12:48 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


To be fair to The Chaser team, this isn't them at their best. They've always been a bit hit and miss, and it seems to me they're getting more misses than hits these days. Last night's episode, for example, was dreadful (Peter Meakin's DD conviction was a GIFT which they squandered), but when they are funny, they're very, very funny. (On CNNNN, after Slim Dusty died, the news crawl read "Slim Dusty now slimmer and dustier". and THAT is funny)
posted by bunglin jones at 12:56 AM on June 14, 2007


Ah, I love those segments kmennie. It's too bad Mercer's derivative attempt at The Daily Show, despite being only a weekly effort, is so abysmal. He's great in these "on the street" sort of segments though.
posted by The God Complex at 12:57 AM on June 14, 2007


The average is not the same as the median. It is not true that half are above and half below the average value of a set, it depends entirely on the distribution. Here is an example: 5, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26. Average value: 19.67. Number of samples below average: one. Number of samples above average: five.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:00 AM on June 14, 2007


To paraphrase George Carlan: "Think about how stupid the average American is. And then realize, the average Australian is even dumber then that".

After all, we Aussies didn't elect Bush, twice.

Proof positive. Australians crack Bush jokes and then go and elect John Howard. Three times.
posted by phaedon at 1:04 AM on June 14, 2007 [12 favorites]


Europeans: Haha those americans are stupid.
Australians: Haha those americans are stupid.
Terrorists/Nazis/New Zealanders attack: "OH GOD WHERES AMERICA???111"
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 1:20 AM on June 14, 2007


It should be called 11/9. Who the hell puts the month before the day?

Silly Americans.
posted by liquorice at 1:26 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pfft we aren't scared of New Zealanders.
posted by gomichild at 1:32 AM on June 14, 2007


As an American, I'm constantly annoyed by the ignorance of my fellow countrymen, but this annoys me as well. I guess this is like picking on your little sister mercilessly and then some kid down the street does it and you're all "Hey! Don't be an asshole!"

Of course they had to ask a lot of folks before they got these answers, and I'm sure they got some strange looks in the process.

Let's level the playing field. Any Americans in Sydney with a camera care to quiz the average Aussie on the same types of things? I'm sure someone can find some real dim bulbs out on Bondi Beach.
posted by zardoz at 1:55 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Would you mind awfully if I were to interject at this point, in a frightfully superior and condescending British way, with a comment about the colonies appearing to be a little agitated, and ascribing this brouhaha to the inclement and changeable weather they suffer from, which will invariably lead to brain-fever and fisticuffs?

I can? Thank you so much. Now do feel free to go about your business.
posted by flashboy at 1:57 AM on June 14, 2007 [12 favorites]


It should be called 11/9. Who the hell puts the month before the day?

Uhhhhh... Americans do...
posted by Talez at 1:59 AM on June 14, 2007


Pfft we aren't scared of New Zealanders.

*jumps out and yells boo*

This reminds me of a Man Show segment where they sent a kid out asking various people whether they'd sign a petition against women's suffrage. Of course they only showed the dumb people who were all, "OMG! Poor women!" Pure entertainment, nothing more.
posted by tracicle at 2:04 AM on June 14, 2007


But keep talking, dieu seul knows what this site would do without your priceless and completely ungrammatical input.

Is there a word for a guy who mocks someone else's grammar in a sentence that he started with a conjunction? I can think of one, but it's not very technical.

After all, we Aussies didn't elect Bush, twice.

Proof positive. Australians crack Bush jokes and then go and elect John Howard. Three times.


Four times.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 2:04 AM on June 14, 2007


I include questions about 9/11 in my routine mental status exam.

The average, otherwise healthy person who displays no other abnormalities usually can say that it was an intentional act of violence, not an accident; but they can't say how many planes or hijackers were involved, nor can they attribute the act to al-Qaeda.

Most know that the WTC consisted of two towers, each of which was taken out by a separate plane; perhaps half remember anything at all about flight 93; and fewer than 10% can state that there was a fourth plane and that its crash damaged the Pentagon.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:05 AM on June 14, 2007 [11 favorites]


They do this kind of thing a bit.

A similar funny voxpop they did once:

Chaser: So, now that we've conquered Iraq, should we attack next? Iran or North Korea?

American: North Korea, for sure.

Chaser: OK, can you point out NK on this world map? [holds up map with Australia marked as "North Korea"]

American: Yeah, there it is. Wow, I never realised how much bigger North Korea was than South Korea! [Tasmania]

[This was repeated a number of times, with Australia marked as either Iran, Syria or North Korea, depending on the response. In every (selected) case, Australia was pointed out enthusiastically as the place to attack]

For non-Aussies: The Chaser = roughly a TV version of The Onion.

The Chaser Nonstop News Network (CNNNN - with one unexplained superfluous N) was also a riot. Parody of CNN, obv.

Latest news is that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is finalising plans to re-sell The Chaser's War on Everything to overseas TV networks.

The satirical show has grown an international following thanks to the ABC's policy of allowing its shows to be accessed for free through its website and uploaded to video sharing sites like YouTube.

posted by UbuRoivas at 2:06 AM on June 14, 2007


Talez: Uhhhhh... Americans do...

Uhhhhh...that'd be why I said "silly Americans"?
posted by liquorice at 2:09 AM on June 14, 2007


Any Americans in Sydney with a camera care to quiz the average Aussie on the same types of things? I'm sure someone can find some real dim bulbs out on Bondi Beach.

Totally true!

(heh heh - stupid American doesn't realise that all Aussies avoid Bondi like the plague. The only people who actually go to Bondi are backpackers, mostly poms, playing soccer on the beach & singing drunken soccer anthems (guess why we avoid it!). But yeh, you'd get a lot of stupid answers there, no doubt. Pity you probably wouldn't be able to pick the accent...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:16 AM on June 14, 2007


Is there a word for a guy who mocks someone else's grammar in a sentence that he started with a conjunction? I can think of one, but it's not very technical.

Is that the same word you use for somebody who doesn't know the difference between a sentence & a sentance?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:21 AM on June 14, 2007


Pfft we aren't scared of New Zealanders.

Speak for yourself.

My sheep are looking kinda edgy tonight...
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:26 AM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


And can we use that word for pople who spell it "grammer?"
posted by louche mustachio at 2:28 AM on June 14, 2007


Errr.... "people."
* hides *

posted by louche mustachio at 2:29 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


And can we use that word for pople who spell it "grammer?"

Um, so far, you're the only one who has done that. What was your point again?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 AM on June 14, 2007


Here's the full clip, with intro. The inspiration was one of those surveys, in which 30% of Americans apparently couldn't recall the correct year.

This is better: bin laden speaks out against the chaser
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:56 AM on June 14, 2007


Effo: root ya cane toad down, sport, howdya ever earn that gold star if you fail to include these CNNNN clips in an FPP that clearly calls for them?

Stupid Americans
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:20 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


The other and unfortunate thing that The Chaser is counting on here is the redundancy of the phrase "9-11".

In our daily, American political climate 9-11 is evoked so much that it's not surprising that it's just become another empty slogan, like Pepsi Blue and 'Liberal'.
posted by vhsiv at 3:32 AM on June 14, 2007


Kinda makes democracy that little bit harder to justify, doesn't it?
posted by humblepigeon at 3:35 AM on June 14, 2007


UbuRoivas: My point was an addendum to your post regarding the word we might use for people who mistake "sentence" and "sentance." "Grammer" is a frequent misspelling of "grammar." I swear it all worked out in my head.

At any rate, my post was an all around failure. I have shamed my family.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:40 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I visit Sydney once a year and it's an accepted wisdom there that "americans are stupid". People are shocked when I try to convince them that americans are no more stupid than australians.
posted by bhnyc at 3:47 AM on June 14, 2007


We may be stupid, but we have most of the guns.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:59 AM on June 14, 2007


It's not that Americans are dumber than the rest of the world. It's just the dumb ones are given a voice that carries across the globe. And one of them happens to be the president.

Our stupidity here in Europe tends to be a bit more introspective and isolationist. But just as pervasive.

Basically, most people on this planet are fucking morons. Nationality just focuses and emphasises the particular cultural idiosyncracies of, well, idiocy.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:01 AM on June 14, 2007


UbuRoivas: What's a sentance?
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 4:05 AM on June 14, 2007


From todays SMH letters page.
"I don't consider The Chaser's War on Everything biased but puerile, invasive and unfunny"
Couldn"t agree more.
posted by johnny7 at 4:07 AM on June 14, 2007


UbuRoivas: What's a sentance?

The Ultimate Olympian: here's one:

"Hey, your shoelace is undone!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:15 AM on June 14, 2007


Stupid Australians:
Part 1 (repair of Stupid Americans link Part 1, above)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:22 AM on June 14, 2007


Gratuitous and insulting. (this post and the original clip) It's just tacky tabloidism.
"Hey! What mindless dreck can we dress up as insightful observations for kicks today?"
posted by peacay at 4:27 AM on June 14, 2007


So it's like a sentence, but spelt wrong?
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 4:29 AM on June 14, 2007


you've really gotta hope these guys were taking the piss:

Q: what are hiroshima & nagasaki famous for?
A: um, judo wrestling?

Q: true or false: star wars is based on a true story?
A: true.

Q: how many world wars have there been?
A: three.

Q: which state does KFC come from?
A: what? the chicken? idunno, i really dunno.
Q: do you know what KFC stands for?
A: kentucky fried chicken.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:29 AM on June 14, 2007


And don't evar start a sentance with um preposition conjunctivitus thingummy, or Jorg Crarlin will get right up your crack.

And, er, but, I can tell you, that stuff stains.
posted by Wolof at 4:30 AM on June 14, 2007


TUO: your fly's undone, too.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 AM on June 14, 2007


speaking of "stupid"...

stupid video
stupid post
stupid discussion
stupid admins for leaving it here

stupid me for participating!

have I covered everything?
posted by HuronBob at 4:32 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


We may be stupid, but we have most of the guns.

That's exactly what's so frightening.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:34 AM on June 14, 2007


stupid internets?
posted by longbaugh at 4:34 AM on June 14, 2007


HuronBob: stupid you for not ignoring it, or flagging it and moving on. Oh, yeh, you covered that. I guess that makes you metastupid.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:36 AM on June 14, 2007


Jay Leno should try doing something like this. Stupid Americans are funny!

True, but then he would have to ruin it by explaining the joke to the audience.
posted by RMD at 4:36 AM on June 14, 2007


Is there a word for someone who believes it's ungrammatical to start a sentence with a conjuction? Because it isn't.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:39 AM on June 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Am you grammar letting we down?


/Jimmy Carr
posted by longbaugh at 4:40 AM on June 14, 2007


There are incurious, forgetful, pig-ignorant morons on every street; in every town; in every country... it doesn't require much wit or talent to find them.

This is old hat, and panders to the anti-American crowd. Everyone loves taking the piss out of The New Romans... except me.

I'm fucking sick of it.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:41 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Q: how many world wars have there been?
A: three.


Who's to know he didn't count the Cold War as WWIII? A lot of people do.

Q: true or false: star wars is based on a true story?
A: true.


If you're not into Star Wars, that's a 50-50 guess.
posted by klue at 4:43 AM on June 14, 2007


photoshopped answers, so to speak. Ok. If the average American is stupid, as commenters suggest, and we elected our political officials by these people, then democracy is not the best form of govt to have and we ought to possibly ignore Jefferson et al and give the vote only to those owning property, or go for kingship or a military ruler? Yes. Many many people are not smart enough to read Metafilter, nor bright enough to make clever comments here, but if you are distainful and pessimistic about the ordinary person, then perhaps you belong with the elite of the GOP (not their religious base). Choose.
posted by Postroad at 4:43 AM on June 14, 2007


Is there a word for someone who believes it's ungrammatical to start a sentence with a conjuction? Because it isn't.

But ending a sentence with one? As Sir Winston Churchill so strongly stated, "This is something up with which we shall not put!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:45 AM on June 14, 2007


Q: true or false: star wars is based on a true story?
A: true.

If you're not into Star Wars, that's a 50-50 guess.


"Into" Star Wars, or "aware of"?

* imagines I had somehow never ever even heard of Star Wars:

"hm, lemme see, some wars in, or over, some stars...hm, not much in the news about space battles recently, so, on the balance of probabilities, false!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:48 AM on June 14, 2007


Not really surprising. Or interesting. The fact of the matter is that 9/11 had no impact on the lives of most Americans. Why should they remember or think about it?
posted by MarshallPoe at 4:54 AM on June 14, 2007


Even though you know Star Wars is set in space, and you've seen the Star Wars Kid on your local news station and for the first time in your life felt "in" on an internet meme, there's no certain way of knowing that it can't be based on, say, a family drama from Friesland in the late 1800s.
posted by klue at 4:55 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Defensive much?
posted by liquorice at 5:07 AM on June 14, 2007


Chaser found some dumb Americans. Also, youtube has comments.
posted by pompomtom at 5:14 AM on June 14, 2007


Actually, the one woman that said the two cities hit started to say New York and Pennsylvania - now, here is where everyone was stupid.

Three cities where hit, if you count the Pentagon and the Flight 93 downing near Shanksville PA hits on cities. Granted, she said the name of the state, not the city, but who remembers Shanksville off the top of their head.

Combine the nerves of being randomly hit on the street with such questions, the vague nature of this question in particular, and the moderately correct answer given, and I think you start to see how the TV producers had to knit together a bunch of terrible answers to make the entire population look stupid.

There is a long and boring tradition of such videos. Making people look stupid is easy.
posted by Muddler at 5:16 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: We may be stupid, but we have most of the guns.
posted by WPW at 5:26 AM on June 14, 2007


Even though you know Star Wars is set in space, and you've seen the Star Wars Kid on your local news station and for the first time in your life felt "in" on an internet meme, there's no certain way of knowing that it can't be based on, say, a family drama from Friesland in the late 1800s.

it was based on an old kurosawa film , which may or may not have been based on stuff that happened in feudal japan , so it could be true in a way i suppose.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:38 AM on June 14, 2007


This must be a record for the number of pople making bad links ;grammer; speling, and other errors with sentances.

This stupidity thing must be contageous.

Aaak! I caught it!!
posted by MtDewd at 5:40 AM on June 14, 2007


NEVAR 4GET!
posted by furtive at 5:49 AM on June 14, 2007


MtDewd: Your so dumb, there's a spelling misteak in you're comment!!!

(If you were driving a car I'd say it's prolly time to put on the breaks.)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 5:54 AM on June 14, 2007


I refuse to comment in this thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:56 AM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wonder if he took a couple of shots to that big, ginger head of his, just for asking. Maybe this'd be even funnier if he asked a few fireman's wives! Ha! Whee!
posted by Pecinpah at 5:56 AM on June 14, 2007


I agree with those who feel the stupid answers in this segment have the feel of being cherry-picked. I think the Rick Mercer piece is much more realistic: the people he talks to are woefully ignorant but do not hesitate to blather on about their opinions with great authority. This seems, to this fan of America, to represent the crux of the problem: such an attitude, writ large to the behaviour of a militarily powerful nation, is a source of considerable danger indeed.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:01 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


You have to wonder how many people he had to ask in order to get incorrect answers. My guess is that it took him a very long time to find those people. I hope.

Sadly, no. I formerly worked at a radio station where one of the hosts would do one of these things every week - he'd go out to a mall, or other high-traffic area, and ask people really simple, stupid, Jay Lenoesque questions. I've listened to his raw minidisc dumps, and the percentage of people who can answer correctly is painfully low. I tend to think this kind of thing is about 50% lack of knowledge about the real world, and 50% "ohmygawd there's a mic/camera in my face." People say some stupid shit just because they're on camera/on mic.
posted by god hates math at 6:11 AM on June 14, 2007


Not really surprising. Or interesting. The fact of the matter is that 9/11 had no impact on the lives of most Americans. Why should they remember or think about it?

Jesus H. Christ, let the killer asteroid hit the planet and wipe us all out. The experiment called humanity is a total and complete failure. That statement is almost as depressing as the actual video linked in the post.
posted by dbiedny at 6:20 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


You have to wonder how many people he had to ask in order to get incorrect answers.

I just ask delmio.
posted by Wolof at 6:20 AM on June 14, 2007


Europeans: Haha those americans are stupid.
Australians: Haha those americans are stupid.
Terrorists/Nazis/New Zealanders attack: "OH GOD WHERES AMERICA???111"


Um, wrong. So wrong, you ought to call up The Chaser team right now to arrange an interview. I'm sure it will be comical.

Terrorists (I.R.A., ETA, Rote Armee Fraktion, etc.) attack European country --> European country deals with it themselves, without dragging everyone else into two interminible military actions.

Terrorists attack U.S. --> OH GOD WHERES EVERYBODY ELSE TO HELP US ATTACK IRAQ???111

Nazis attack European countries --> Americans sit on the sidelines watching for a couple of years, until they are directly attacked in 1941.

New Zealanders...well, we're still waiting for that one.
posted by googly at 6:21 AM on June 14, 2007


OK, to be fair, the U.S. did provide material aid to the Allies before 1941, and their entry into WWII did turn the tide. Nevertheless, it was much more complicated than 'Nazis attackk --> everyone goes running to the good old US of A to come save them.
posted by googly at 6:25 AM on June 14, 2007


President Bush must be disappointed. He says "September the 11th" every time he opens his mouth.

do you know what KFC stands for?

Confusion about this is reasonable because of KFC's name changes. They started out as "Kentucky Fried Chicken," changed to "KFC" in 1991, pretended "KFC" meant "Kitchen Fresh Chicken" for a while, and went back to "Kentucky Fried Chicken" in 2006.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:30 AM on June 14, 2007


That's exactly what's so frightening.

Well then, quit poking us with that stick.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:36 AM on June 14, 2007


New Zealanders...well, we're still waiting for that one.

The thing is, mate bro, nobody but you gives a flying fuck for your sheep. You can do what you like with them.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:37 AM on June 14, 2007


is that what passes for wit in Sydney?
posted by dydecker at 7:04 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Someone explain the point of this post to me (perhaps Effigy2000). Perhaps I'm missing something.

What type of discussion was it supposed to elicit? How does it make MetaFilter a site worth reading? Had we made this post about any other nationality, it would have likely been quickly dispatched or flagged.

It has gone exactly as I expected it would, for the most part nothing but negative crap from all sides.
posted by HuronBob at 7:10 AM on June 14, 2007


if you are distainful and pessimistic about the ordinary person, then perhaps you belong with the elite of the GOP (not their religious base). have worked in retail.

Fixed that for ya, Postroad.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:12 AM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


News Flash: People are stupid. Some of them live in the US.

sigh...
posted by AV at 7:28 AM on June 14, 2007


is that what passes for wit in Sydney?

it was a joke, yes. you might need to be aussie or kiwi to understand it in its proper context, but if you aren't in that position, then what can i say, other than that there are blue-ringed octopus eggs in the hairs around your mother's asshole.*

*filched from some indian swear-proverb site, linked here a coupla times recently.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:40 AM on June 14, 2007


Question
Is there a formal rule about beginning a sentence with a conjunction?

Answer
H.W. Fowler called this rule an "ungrammatical piece of nonsense." There is nothing wrong with starting a sentence with a conjunction as long as the sentence is a complete thought.

===
Grammar Myth No. 117
Many, many people were taught never to start a sentence with a conjunction. But this is wrong...It's fine to start sentences with conjunctions. As Strunk and White say, "An occasional loose sentence prevents the style from becoming too formal and gives the reader a certain relief"

===
Most likely, many people believe they should not start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction because their grammar teachers in grade school discouraged them from doing so. Yet such a rule is completely unjustifiable...professional writers have started sentences with coordinating conjunctions throughout history.


That's just the first few after a quick search.
posted by mediareport at 7:47 AM on June 14, 2007


I'm mostly with chuckdarwin and HuronBob on this type of thing; as an English man (by the grace of God), I often find myself defending Americans from dull, ignorant or lazy vilification by my compatriots and the Chinese people I live amongst.
Yet in the way of things, I'm not immune from the old knee-jerk either, particularly here on MeFi where you dominate the discourse and I often read ignorant, rude or dismissive things about other cultures.
Moral I take from it all is it's usually better to keep your piss-taking in-house or among friends, where you'll be surer of aim, less likely to go for the cheap shot and ultimately funnier.
I didn't watch the clips
posted by Abiezer at 7:56 AM on June 14, 2007


Who's buried in Grant's tomb?

Not Grant.
posted by sidereal at 8:04 AM on June 14, 2007


Metafilter: Making people look stupid is easy.
posted by greta simone at 8:39 AM on June 14, 2007


But ending a sentence with one? As Sir Winston Churchill so strongly stated, "This is something up with which we shall not put!"
posted by UbuRoivas


That was about ending a sentence with a preposition, and Churchill (if he actually said it, I'm not sure if it's not apocryphal) was mocking rigid prescriptivism.
posted by papakwanz at 9:24 AM on June 14, 2007


You know, this is the first time (in my short membership) I've seen MetaFilter look a lot like the rest of the net. It is quite disappointing to see.......
posted by lattiboy at 9:28 AM on June 14, 2007


MarshallPoe: The fact of the matter is that 9/11 had no impact on the lives of most Americans. Why should they remember or think about it?

Not true! Americans were asked to continue shopping and that failing to do so, would mean the terrorists had won!!

I, for one, have been shopping every waking hour since that fateful October day and although I am exhausted, I will not rest, nor hesitate to make any demographically tested and focus group approved buying sacrifice upon this fruited plain. America, AMERICA! God shed his grace on thee!! The epic Battle of of Good vs. Evil, Freedom vs. Slavery, Jesus vs. the bearded bogeymen must be won. In the shopping malls, at the car dealerships, the one dollar shops, in the back rooms of the white house, and the vaults of Chinese banks overflowing with American greenbacks. Although it take decades, generations even perhaps, for purple mountains majesties, we cannot fail in this struggle!! We owe it to our children and our children's children, and our children's children's children, that they too can crown thy goods with brotherhood and buy from sea to shining sea.

Hallelujah.
posted by Skygazer at 10:22 AM on June 14, 2007


You can set up a camera in Times Square, ask any factual question you want, and you'll get some people who don't know the answer. Cherry-picking the hilariously wrong answers and just showing those makes it look like everyone they spoke to is an idiot, because we unconsciously assume that the video shows a representative sample.

This is stupid.
posted by bshort at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2007


Who's buried in Grant's tomb?

No one is buried in Grant's tomb. Mr. and Mrs. Grant are entombed there.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:59 AM on June 14, 2007


You know, this is the first time (in my short membership) I've seen MetaFilter look a lot like the rest of the net. It is quite disappointing to see.......

Go back to YouTube.
posted by smackfu at 11:07 AM on June 14, 2007


Jay Leno should try doing something like this. Stupid Americans are funny!

Jay Leno | Jay Walking:
Whaddaya Know?

Don't Quote Me.

What Are You Talking About?

Battle of the Jaywalk All-stars.
posted by ericb at 11:35 AM on June 14, 2007


People aren’t stupid (well, en masse they are, but generally not so much individually.)
It’s just that they’ve been bullshitted so much they don’t know how to answer a simple question.

F’rinstance - yeah, KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken HQ is in Kentucky. Yeah.
But that’s stupid. Because Col. Sanders was born and raised in Indiana. (Granted he sold chicken in Kentucky, but that was out of a gas station, the first KFC was built in Utah). It doesn’t “come from” Kentucky. It’s only a brand-name.
The only reason it’s HQ is in Kentucky is because it’s a division of a corporation that has it’s HQ there - just like Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Long John Silver’s are HQed in Kentucky.
And it’s not just commericals, the bullshit was piled so high around 9/11 it’s a wonder anyone can get a straight answer on anything related to it.

All that plus everyone and his brother with a camera crew has an ulterior motive, the right wing, left wing, all trying to make whomever is adhering to whatever policy or body of thought they’re opposed to look like idiots, rants all over t.v. all the time about how stupid this guy or that guy is and anyone like him, not to mention people in general.

So of course they don’t know the RIGHT answer, they don’t know what the “right” answer is because what’s “right” must be in quotes all the time because it’s so contested - they don’t suspect anyone would ask them a straightforward simple question unless they’re trying to make fools of them (and indeed - QED, these kinds of videos).

Ultimately, there’s a huge bias (for some damn reason) against saying “I don’t know.”
But that’s not stupid, that’s just ignorance.
Nothing wrong with ignorance as long as you’re not interested in perpetuating it forever. But people are more and more wary of allowing themselves to buy into something, because they’re constantly being played.
And no 9/11 didn’t have that big an impact on people’s lives in terms of anything they could do anything about. People for the most part assimilate and manage the data they need to have to exert some control over it - what do I have to do to pay bills, get my kid to school/church/practice, how do I manage my time with my spouse, what am I going to make for dinner, etc. etc. etc. not to mention whatever it is they do for a living, apart from whatever free time they have to devote to being a good citizen.
Knowing details about 9/11 is, for the most part, a luxury in terms of information. And asking overly simple questions of someone overloaded with other more relevent tasks is bound to short circuit thinking sometimes. It’s not a matter of mental disability, it usually depends on their mental state, how harried they are.
Ask someone at a family funeral something simple like this, they tend to be a little fuzzy with other information that day.
I’d be embarrassed if I couldn’t remember my kids birthdays or my anniversary or what time I have to drive my mom to the doctor this afternoon.
I’m not saying this isn’t funny. (Bit lowbrow perhaps, but, y’know we do need that) But it’s nothing to feel superior over.
Hell, it gives me hope. Best defense against terrorism is people not fixating on it.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:30 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think if you walk out onto the street and surprise people with any off the wall question you are going to get a boatload of stupidity. It takes a minute or two for people's brains to come on line when they are out for a cup of coffee. You could probably ask them their names and they'd screw it up. It's a brain freeze coupled with an urge to just answer the damn question and get away. Humans are stupid when surprised.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:30 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


...the bullshit was piled so high around 9/11 it’s a wonder anyone can get a straight answer on anything related to it.

Except, you know, the date it happened on.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:39 PM on June 14, 2007


OK. I was going to try & stay out of this thread because it's just so ugly and defensive and most people here are, it seems to me, really missing the point. But I can't seem to resist, so...I hope I don't regret this.

The reasons why the rest of the world might complain about (or make fun of) the USA is simple: it's one of the few options left to them. After all, what do people do on MeFi about Bush? They complain and complain and complain. And then they complain that you shouldn't dare complain about their lack of doing anything other than complaining because, really, all they can do is complain. What else do you expect? They don’t want to get arrested or anything. They voted for a Democrat after all. They’re not the stupid American of lore.

I remember watching Platoon in Australia in the mid-80s, and the Australians I was with there had a great laugh at how stupid the American troops were in Vietnam, and how they played their radios loud, even while going through the jungle. There's all kinds of reasons historically and anecdotally why people in other nations might complain about the US and Americans; after all, theirs is the dominant culture (ahem), theirs is the most powerful government, and they have the largest military (ever), and by a huge margin.

People being people, it's normal and understandable that a certain percentage of the complaining would be due to seeking some sort of balance, taking the highest peg down, or whathaveyou. One might regard that as healthy; it would happen to any superpower. More than any 'ordinary superpower' however, the US has, in the last eight years or so, basically told the rest of the world to go to hell and that they were looking out for #1 (themselves). The 2004 re-election of George W. Bush was the capper, really; was there any more doubt as to how most Americans saw the world, or their place in it? And, more than this, between the stage it sets environmentally and militarily, the US seems to be steering the whole of civilization into the garbage dump of history. So there’s a lot of reason for global grievances, certainly.

But everybody here knows all that, right? This is Metafilter; the people here aren’t like all those ‘stupid Americans’, right? They see through the ruse.

9-11 was supposed to be extremely important to Americans; just a few years ago, suggesting it was anything less than a sacred loss to the nation (or whatever) was grounds for character assassination, and quite possibly getting your ass handed to you as well. It made people angry, gave them direction, made people feel like Americans again. It’s been Bush’s free pass to run through all this evil BS he’s made law during his time as president. It's also a date. These two things combined make it doubly hilarious when USians can't remember what day 9-11 occurred on. Isn't that obvious? It is kinda funny, sort of, don’t you think? No? Not even a smile?

Here’s where we come to the point raised by lattiboy: Metafilter isn’t always as far from the Conservative mass-mind as people here would like to think. Has this thread read much differently than it would have if the footage had been posted at Fark? It’s more polite certainly, but the response is really the same. These people interviewed don’t represent most people, er, Australians are dumber than Americans, uh, those people might have been stunned, um, 9-11 is complicated, uhh, and so on and so on. It’s just a litany of defensive excuses and angry nonsense, really. If this footage is so ridiculous, why does it sting so much? Why such dour pettiness?

Like it or not, the USA is the laughing stock of the world now. This video is just one more example of people enjoying seeing that truth made plain. It’s all the more delicious because there’s nothing that makes a bully angrier than when people are laughing at him. Because that means they’re not afraid.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:46 PM on June 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


This show making fun of stupid Americans, is it the same one where they went through Australian cities getting patriotic Australians to kiss the Aussie flag....only it wasn't the Aussie flag, but the New Zealand one?*

LOLAustraliansAmIRite?

Or in other words, ask enough questions, you'll get some stupid answers, as others have said.

*(For the benefit of our American friends, the difference is one lousy star, so if you're not paying attention, it's easy for even us to be confused).

And on the KFC thing: London is full of KFC type restaurants called [Southern US State] Fried Chicken. I'm willing to bet that none of 'em have any connection to the state they're named after. So I guess it's not totally implausible that KFC might have no real connection to Kentucky....
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:01 PM on June 14, 2007


This video is just one more example of people enjoying seeing that truth made plain.

Yeah, speak truth to power, man.

It’s all the more delicious because there’s nothing that makes a bully angrier than when people are laughing at him. Because that means they’re not afraid.

No one's angry, duder. But keep on with the self-importance.
posted by Snyder at 3:24 PM on June 14, 2007


If this footage is so ridiculous, why does it sting so much?

It dosen't sting, but when people are using it as some serious example of American whateverthefuck it just becomes so eye-rollingly dumb some just have to respond. If you think this is some great referendum on the American mentality, you're dumber than anyone in those videos.
posted by Snyder at 3:27 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hm, relatively unscathed.

(i had a nightmare about being banned)

Frankly, I'm kinda surprised that so many people seem to have taken this so seriously. The Chaser is a political comedy / satire show, which ought to be obvious from the main link itself, as well as from the others that I supplied (eg CNNNN - check out the news ticker, by the way).

As somebody pointed out, of course the 'stupid' answers were selected, if not 'photoshopped' (August 15th? Clearly answering the "what is India's national day?" question). You could easily go to any place in the world & find a subset of people who either don't care in the slightest about current affairs, who are taking the piss, experiencing camerafright, drunk, on drugs, or perhaps psychotic.

Having said that, the Chaser team were also playing up to a stereotype of the stupid American. It is widely held here, but it's worth pointing out that the show airs on the government TV station which is the preferred option for the educated, (small L) liberal/leftie middle classes, who would also be well aware that it's all a setup, playing on the aforementioned stereotype.

papakwanz: you say preposition, i say conjunction...i was trying to echo louche moustachio's grammer thing, but at a second leval of metaness. i, too, swear that it worked out in my head, but it seems that i also fail in life, or need to up my medication...
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:29 PM on June 14, 2007


If you think this is some great referendum on the American mentality, you're dumber than anyone in those videos.

Phew! Good thing that wasn't what I was saying at all.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:34 PM on June 14, 2007


stinkycheese: "tall poppy syndrome"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:34 PM on June 14, 2007


tall poppy syndrome (the wikipedia article is kinda dry)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:38 PM on June 14, 2007


Yep UbuRovias, Canadians are accused of this all the time. We eat our best and brightest.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:41 PM on June 14, 2007


but when people are using it as some serious example of American whateverthefuck

Um, what serious example? It's satire?
posted by liquorice at 4:08 PM on June 14, 2007


Sometimes the Chaser reminds me of Jerry Springer. "Let's find people less educated, less informed, oh hell, just plain less than us and make fun of them. That'll be fun. And it's not immoral because they're not important."

Not everyone in Australia thinks the Chaser is wonderful. Not everyone in Australia wants to kiss their flag either (whether or not they're being offered an Australian or a New Zealander flag). So please, when you're getting upset by something that is very much not the best of the web, don't malign me. I had nothing to do with it.
posted by b33j at 4:32 PM on June 14, 2007


whether or not they're being offered an Australian or a New Zealander flag

Heh - brilliant!

The American version of The Chaser could ask Aussies to point out their own flag from a page of flags. The Aussie flag would be absent, but the Kiwi one would be there. 99% would select the NZ one.

(of course, the real flag is the aboriginal one, the boxing kangaroo, or the Eureka cross, but that's beside the point)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:54 PM on June 14, 2007


Canadians are accused of this all the time. We eat our best and brightest.

You guys are cannibals? I never knew that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:56 PM on June 14, 2007


I'm with Sophia Loren, "silly, silly, silly".
posted by tellurian at 4:59 PM on June 14, 2007


There's no need to brag about it, tellurian.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:26 PM on June 14, 2007


The Aussies, the Brits, the Canucks and the Kiwis hate us for our Freedoms. I says we nuke 'em now while we's got the chance!
posted by ericb at 5:36 PM on June 14, 2007


Poor Sophia Loren, she got a crash course in aussie humour.
posted by dhruva at 6:37 PM on June 14, 2007


It looks like this show shouldn't be sold to overseas audiences after all, based on this thread.

Reading this thread, I felt an urge to tell a lot of people to learn to take a joke, but then I realised that most people wouldn't have seen other segments of this show, in most of which the Chaser team show just how stupid Australians can be. So, rest assured that Americans aren't the only ones being made fun of.

Also: the Australian sense of humour is very different to the American. A good example of this is that, in much the same way many Americans don't find this clip funny, I don't find the "HAHA LET'S NUKE 'EM COZ WE CAN AND OMG WE ROCKED WWII" comments funny. But that's okay.
posted by Lucie at 9:09 PM on June 14, 2007


Lucie: that wasn't a joke. That's how real-life Americans actually think. I know all about this because I saw it on the telly.

However, you're right about the different senses of humour. We even spell it differently to 'humor' to emphasise that they are two totally different things.

Here's an example: in a CNNNN episode, they did a retrospective to mark the show's pretend 10th anniversary. In one faux-flashback segment, the anchors were wearing hawaiian shirts & gaudy flower garlands. "And now, we're crossing to New York for some breaking news..."

[Chaser reporter in NY appears on screen, in similar gaudy hawaiian gear & a sombrero, photoshopped over footage of the 9/11 attacks]

Anchors [slapping thighs & laughing uncontrollably]: "Hahaha! That was the last time we ever did silly-shirt-day on this show! Hahaha!"

I was ROFL over that, uncontrollably. We had an American houseguest at the time, who was completely appalled. When she returned to the US, having spent a coupla weeks in our house, bludging 100% of her living expenses off us (it was a share house, I had no connection with her) she finally reached into her own pocket for a change & shouted the household an incredibly expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant.

Somehow, I never received the invitation.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:31 PM on June 14, 2007


It's true, I haven't seen that many Aussies rolling on the floor and howling since my last trip to Bali.
posted by fleacircus at 1:28 AM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


***ROTFLMAO***

awesome! ten million favourites!
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:53 AM on June 15, 2007


I think what a lot of cultures don't get about Aussie humour is that nothing whatsoever is sacred. In fact, the more sacred something is, the more you should ridicule it. The thing is, it's totally possible to simultaneously respect something and take the piss out of it.

I recall an incident in Syria. We'd been hanging out for a few days with a bunch of guys & girls in Damascus. They were *incredibly* friendly & hospitable, and spent 100% of their time joking, singing & dancing.

One day, they got to boasting:

"You know, Syria was once a huge empire. We controlled all of Arabia, all of Egypt & Nubia, also Mesopotamia - "

me, interjecting: "Yeh, you probably owned the Golan Heights then, too!"

Icy silence all round. Suddenly, they all looked as if they were about to kill me.

My aussie travel buddy had to backpedal furiously, trying to explain the whole style of humour. For ages, I think they saw the explanation as a weak attempt at rationalising a grave insult. They came around in the end, but with a serious "In this country you don't joke about such things..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:08 AM on June 15, 2007


Infinite Jest, doesn't the NZ flag have red stars instead of white, too? Although that in no way detracts from the number of people who would probably still get it wrong, which I imagine is quite large, purely because many people seem to live inside their own heads and pay little to no attention to anything which doesn't directly impact them.
posted by andraste at 3:51 AM on June 15, 2007



“Except, you know, the date it happened on.”
posted by stinkycheese

Well, yeah. But again:
How long did the Hundred Year war last?
When did the war of 1812 take place?
How long was the Six Day War?
What was the President’s name in 1960?
(Or - how big is a 2 by 4?
Or - divide 30 by half and add ten, what do you get?)

Clio, the muse of history, is as thoroughly infected with lies as a street whore with syphilis.

More (seriously) related to my former point - distortion and social pressure surrounding an initial event leads to further distortion in recollection.*
Which is why there’s so much “whuthefu?” surrounding 9/11 in particular.

*(Which is one of my beefs with torture and certain coercive interrogation techniques, tough to get a straight answer - granting that one’s looking for information rather than say a conviction or whatnot)

But no argument on the USA being the laughing stock of the world just now.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:41 AM on June 15, 2007


andraste: embarrassingly, I didn't know about that difference. Which sorta proves my point, luckily :D
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:41 PM on June 15, 2007


You can be excused for not knowing about the red stars on the Kiwi flag. It was only changed recently, from white, in a referendum held after NZ pulled out of ANZUS, banned nuclear-powered or armed warships from its ports, and refused to take part in the Iraq debacle. The red obviously symbolises the country's left-leaning tendencies.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:18 PM on June 15, 2007


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