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I'm Pretty Sure I Sort of Know What I'm Talking About: Or, the Sociology of Ignorance

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It's possible that the new Tyler Perry movie isn't horrible. And it doesn't matter when you're reading this essay. There is always a new Tyler Perry movie.

In the commercial for Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club, a group of middle-aged women are going out together socially. One woman demands that they go to a male strip club. (cue: laughter) I know many middle-aged women. When they get together, they want to relax and maybe drink cocktails; they don't want to see penises. I did a little research. The movie was filmed near Atlanta, Georgia. Do they even have male strip clubs in Atlanta? Out of curiosity, I Googled "male strip clubs in Atlanta." I didn't find much. There's a place called Bliss Atlanta, but that is a gay male strip club. From the web site, it doesn't seem that women are particularly welcome. Thirty years ago, it would've been much more difficult to gather information about Atlanta male strip clubs. Now I only have to type a few keys on my computer. Ah, technology.

Okay, so the new Tyler Perry is probably the cinematic equivalent to getting carjacked. But, I mean, it might be good. It's a possibility. Maybe the "lady wants to go to a strip club" scene is taken out of context? Perhaps it's a dream sequence. Maybe it's from the blooper reel during the credits. I don't know. I haven't seen the film.

But so many people, who also haven't seen the film -- or any Tyler Perry movie, for that matter -- have such vile contempt for his work.

I'm wondering if talking about things you don't know anything about is a biological, instinctive human trait, like anger or hunger or sympathy for George Clooney because he just can't seem to find the right woman. Or is this a recent trend?

Yes, people were always ignorant. I read that there was a time when putting a red-hot iron up your anus was thought to cure hemorrhoids. Now, of course, we know that Dr. Oz was wrong. But the people back in medieval times didn't know any better. They didn't have WebMD, or any of the many anus fetish websites that we have today.

But today, people have the opportunity to read, watch, listen to, investigate and decipher the stuff on which they comment. But they just don't. Yes, Justin Bieber's music probably sucks. But how many people who mock Justin Bieber's music have actually listened to Justin Bieber's music? My Justin Bieber musical knowledge consists of one chorus of one song. He sings "baby" over and over. It's not awful. In fact, I would call it the "Stairway To Heaven" of "baby" being sung over and over musical choruses. (Though to be fair, while I admire Led Zeppelin, I'm not a huge fan of "Stairway To Heaven," which is really just the "Copacabana" of classic rock.)

Jenny McCarthy has co-authored three books about autism. But you can't say "Jenny McCarthy" in conversation without someone immediately castigating her views on the link between autism and childhood immunizations. Actually, I couldn't tell you Jenny McCarthy's views on immunizations. I've never heard her speak on the subject. On The View, they only talk about breast implants, cheating boyfriends and Miley Cyrus. Or as I put it, my three most common Internet searches. And I doubt the people chastising McCarthy know her views, either. In the span of three books, I bet there's more than just "don't immunize your child." Four words does not take three books. Maybe McCarthy's views are misguided, but are her critics actually reading her books and making informed judgments, or are they just commenting on what they think they've heard other people say they think Jenny McCarthy has said?

Many people, especially men who get upset about pretty much anything that unites women, don't just dislike the bestselling novel Fifty Shades Of Grey. Rather, they abhor it. The very thought of it is infuriating to them. But have these people even read it? I don't think they have. In fact, I know they haven't. I've spoken to some of these people. Do they even know what the book is about? Yeah, they know the characters are in to sadomasochism and deviant sex. But so are the characters in Mitt Romney's autobiography; that doesn't mean I know about Romney's life. (I'm still only on page 40, the part where Romney joins a professional jai alai league in Manila.) But what is Fifty Shades Of Grey actually about? What is the plot? I don't know, which is why I don't mock it.

There is an entire channel dedicated to people talking out of their butts; it's called CNBC. The ignorant financial experts -- let's call them "ignoperts" -- make more incorrect statements in one afternoon than Michele Bachmann at a year-long "intelligent design" conference. Can someone explain why, if the stock market dropped at noon due to the crisis in Ukraine -- as the commentator explained -- the market then surged twenty minutes later? What happened in those twenty minutes? And the CNBC on-screen talking heads are multiplying. It's like the opening credits of The Brady Bunch. How can so many people on the TV screen at one time collectively know so little?

I'm literally watching CNBC right now, at this moment. It's 12:28 p.m., Friday, March 14. The host is asking a guy about gold prices. He's just spewing word vomit. This man has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. Pointless, nonsensical sounds are just exiting his mouth. And two hours from now, when the price of gold is doing the opposite of what it's doing now, everything he is saying will prove to be even more wasteful. My bullshit alarm is blaring. Oh, no, wait -- that's my fire alarm. I knew I forgot to turn off the oven.

There was a minor scandal a couple of week ago -- I use "minor" because nobody really gives a shit -- after two Academy members admitted to voting for 12 Years A Slave for "Best Picture" without watching it. They just figured, "Well, it seems like it's probably the best movie of the year." Coincidentally, this is the same reason why I voted for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.

But is the Oscar scandal really a surprise? This is what Americans do. We judge things based on what we sort of think something is probably like. How many people who have commented on the Affordable Health Care Act, "Obamacare," have actually read the law? If every American with an opinion about the Affordable Health Care Act actually read the law, then Obamacare would be a New York Times bestseller, alongside all the conservative wingnut books by FOX News pundits about how Obamacare is bad for the country... opinions based on what they sort of know they think might be in the law.

There's an old adage, "Write what you know." There's a new adage, "Criticize what you don't." Incidentally, I've seen one Tyler Perry film. It was called Madea's Family Reunion. It was quite possibly the worst thing I've ever seen. I loved it.