I am reluctant to entertain theories that screens make us idiots. Apparently, if you confront a digital native with a page of Proust, his head explodes before reaching the second subordinate. I don’t believe it, because, as Javier Cercas pointed out the other day, Proust hasn’t even been read by those who presume to go for a run every morning along Swann’s path. Perhaps we are confusing idiocy with disinhibition: it is not that young people are less capable of reading Proust, but that they do not care that a man with elbow patches on his jacket makes them ugly not reading him.
I worry that, by dint of repeating that we are dumb, we end up really dumb. On account of 20 years of TheWire, the series that made the intellectuals stop calling TV a dumb box, I have discovered that there are many people who consider it a difficult series. Its creator, David Simon, contributed to this when he said that “fuck the average viewer”, delighted to have low audiences and fighting to reduce them further. The boorish exegetes did the rest, conveying the idea that the badass English on the Baltimore camels was Biblical Aramaic.
TheWire it’s a series of cops and robbers that then gets complicated. As much as Simon presumes otherwise, there’s no reason for the average viewer to be screwed. On the contrary, it is a perfect series for the average viewer, it does not require stretching on the side of Swann’s path to get a reading run. But they have convinced us that we are fools and they intimidate us, like the character in Sunrise, which is no small thing who wanted to be intellectual. And here the only fool is the one who plays smart.
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