ENTERTAINERS in the global visual domain have a knack for creating programmes featuring smart people putting smart questions to not-so-smart people everywhere – including the Caribbean.
Of course, these are videos produced for stated purposes, but sometimes with consequences that result in both shame and joy: the shame of knowing people can be so ill-informed and the joy of laughter, the fun of laughing at ourselves — and others.
I grew-up (back in the days when TV was only Black and White) not missing ‘Not Necessarily The News’ – a Canadian programme that turned the news on its head, but especially quoting leaders and politicians.
But while we all laugh and too many of us judge today’s full-colour and HD shows with Shame and Pride feelings, the fact is: There are lots of people in any country who simply don’t know what others may consider simple facts.
If knowledge is power and you don’t have knowledge, then you simply have no power. But lack of knowledge is not something people do to themselves or are proud of – and it’s not only in developing countries that you will find people who, basically, simply don’t know what others might consider some simple and basic facts.
Last week, a like video made the rounds around the world through social media – a local edition of a well-famous Caribbean comedy series featuring questions and answers elsewhere.
So, now, it’s our turn…
I saw the video featuring interviews with a few guys in Vieux Fort and I had to tell some complaining ‘Lucians’ not to worry or be ashamed about what we saw and heard, because this is also part of who we are.
We are not all the same and those guys were not speaking for all of us, but guess what: They appeared on the Saint Lucia version of a programme aimed at extracting stupid answers to smart questions from selected persons.
As the smart questioner in the video pointed out, his programme is about ‘Entertainment and Enlightenment’ – so it taught some Saint Lucians a few things we all probably thought we all know about Saint Lucia, but which, obviously, is not the case, like: Name a part of the body that starts with the letter C… What is Saint Lucia’s Motto? What holiday is observed on January 1st? How many days in a year? What is a Leap Year? How to spell WEDNESDAY? What does C.P.R. mean? Where is you collar bone located?
Apart from the first question (which was answered without hesitation…) none was answered correctly. The non-national questioner did ‘educate’ the Saint Lucians about ‘the national motto’ and the answers to all but the first question.
But if you think we should be ashamed, we are not alone, as in every country you have people who don’t know what you expect them to know — things we might consider ‘simple’, but which are simply not that simple to others.
Take the following story I unearthed about just how bad it is in the USA, the richest country in the world and still regarded by many as ‘The land of opportunity’…
It’s a story about Americans being no less ignorant about basic things American than Saint Lucians about Things Lucian. It’s entitled: ‘Survey finds one in five Americans can’t name a branch of government’ — an article by Theodore Bunker for the Associated Press dated Friday, 13 September 2019.
It reads: ‘About one-in-five Americans cannot name a single one of the three branches of government, according to an annual survey from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.
The center had released its annual Annenberg Constitution Day Civics Survey the day before the report and it found that [only] about 2 in 5 American adults accurately named the three branches of government: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
The study also revealed the following: 39 percent named all three branches; 14 percent named two branches; 25 percent named one branch; 22 percent couldn’t name any branch; and 1 percent refused to answer.
The center noted that the percentage of people who could name all three branches “is the highest in five years…” and that people who took civics classes in high school, or were regular consumers of news, were more likely to know the answers to the survey questions.
But the center’s director, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, said in a statement that while this marks an improvement, the overall results remain dismal.
She pointed out that a full quarter of U.S. adults (25%) can name only one of the three branches of government; and 23% cannot name any.
However, her main conclusion was that: ‘The resilience of our [American] system of government is best protected by an informed citizenry. And civics education and attention to news increase that likelihood.’
(The center surveyed 1,104 adults in the U.S. between August 16 and 27 by phone, with a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points.’)
So, Saint Lucians shouldn’t lose heart over what we saw from Vieux Fort. Any producer can get the same results from a similar exercise anywhere else in Saint Lucia, depending on the question and who you choose to ask them.
My point, though, is that we should never be surprised at how much people just don’t know, even though we expect them to…
And you will never know either, just how much a person who does not know what you expect them to, will know things that you just don’t know — like my granddaughter showing me just the other day, ‘The difference between a male and a female sweet pepper.’
I guess it’s not just all of what you learned at school, but more all that you forget to remember in life.
So, let’s laugh at ourselves – and learn a few new simple but major facts about who we also are that we simply don’t know, without feeling ashamed.