Our first issue of the year is dedicated to stories and art that are entertaining, goofy, and just plain dumb. Everything seems, and is, deadly serious right now, but we still need to laugh—though about what and why are, as ever, open questions. The general trend toward not being an insensitive asshole is right and righteous, but can also make people nervous about what they say, often for better and sometimes not. What do we miss when people are censoring their own stupidity? Is the pendulum swinging back to where it’s cool not to care again? What does our obsession with memes and viral tweets say about us as a society? These are the kinds of questions we wanted to address with this theme, and to do that we’ve loosely broken the issue down into three sections:
Purposeful Celebration Stories that celebrate dumb things—from trends and ideas to products and hobbies—solely because they are ridiculous and entertaining. Eve Peyser, a millennial, has penned a robust defense of the perfect simplicity of Billy Joel’s music. Maggie Lange scrutinizes why convertibles, which are showy, impractical, and aesthetically irresponsible, are still so hard to hate. Samantha Cole peeks inside the twisted minds of today’s most influential parody porn auteurs (Mister Rogers–themed porn, anyone?) and learns how they laugh through the sex.
The Value of Stupidity These pieces argue that unabashed stupidity can be a great part of life for a variety of reasons. Anna Merlan breaks down what a 19th century trend for tearing off unfashionable hats and throwing them in the gutter can teach us about how stupidity unites and divides us. Genie Kausto shares colorful new self-portraits that take inspiration from the “wrong places” and suggests that “embracing wrongness is a way of ignoring life’s constant pressures to be right.”
Things That Are Bad Dumb These stories call out stupid ideas and stupid people—but the bad kind of stupid. In a personal essay, Hannah Smothers takes on the social media trend of smart people pretending to be dumb. Max Daly counts down the most brainless drug moments of the last 100 years—highlights include hippies attempting to levitate the Pentagon and the Church of Scientology launching its own anti-drug wing. Shayla Love investigates the controversy surrounding the ethics of “uplifting” animals to higher levels of intelligence.
There’s a lot more in the issue, so take a break, turn off your brain, and enjoy.