The Genius Excuse

We’re all human, and so we all deserve the right to act less than perfect from time to time without being ostracized for said errant behavior.  However, I think there are some people who take that right just a little too far, and even worse are the enablers who constantly make excuses for the others, just because of their popularity.

This happens a lot with celebrities and sports stars, and always has.  Granted, we’re much less tolerant of some behaviors now than we were, say, 50-70 years ago (thankfully), but there are some who do completely inappropriate or morally/socially unacceptable things, and yet–after a brief stint–they’re welcomed back into our collective arms and hearts.  To be fair, celebrities have MUCH less of a personal life than before the paparazzi began to run rampant, so they’re not able to make their mistakes in private (like the rest of us are).  But I still feel that there are cases where their fame becomes a sort of cover-all escape hatch, similar to diplomatic immunity.

This bothers me more when people make excuses for bad behaviors exhibited by those whose IQ is at or above the Genius level.  I can’t stand it when someone acts like a conceited jerk, be they smart or dumb.  But when I comment on it about a person with a higher-than-normal intelligence, I often hear “Well, s/he IS a genius,” like that gives them free rein to walk all over people with no repercussions.

That’s the main reason that I can’t stand The Big Bang Theory, despite it being such a popular show (the other reason being that I just don’t think the writing is all that funny).  The main character, Sheldon, is such an obnoxious man-child!  He’s mean and condescending to everyone he comes in contact with–even his friends–and he acts like a spoiled brat if he doesn’t get his way or isn’t the center of attention to EVERYONE at a particular time.  I have no clue why his friends even stick around, and I don’t want to waste my time on the show to try to figure it out.

Why would we celebrate such behavior, let alone, make excuses for it?  It happened a lot with Mozart, if the movie Amadeus is to be believed.  And many other “geniuses” have been known has being eccentric or rude in their search for the perfect whathaveyou.

Now, I don’t mind eccentric; I actually respect and admire a person who’s a little quirky.  But when someone’s just downright rude, mean or condescending because s/he can’t be “bothered” to learn or incorporate simple common courtesies, I can’t let that go.  We punish children for exhibiting those mannerisms . . . so why do we allow–and worse, explain away–these same attitudes in grown adults?  Do we figure that they’ve paid their “debt” to society by whatever amazing invention they bring about and therefore are “allowed” to be jerks?

I know this blog sounds like a rant–and it is–but I’m truly curious as to why we, collectively, are willing to overlook rude behavior in people who are “smarter” or “better” than the rest of us.  Is it like some sort of misplaced awe and reverence for people that we find somehow superior to ourselves?

I’ve even noticed these thoughts within myself when it comes to my favorite literary hero, Sherlock Holmes.  He was an opium addict (which hurt me to the core the first time I learned that, I must say), and had a tendency to be curt with people because he was so wrapped up in the case he was trying to solve.  Not once have I thought or said “It’s okay that he was a drug addict, or rude to people, because he was such a genius with crimes,” but they are aspects of his character that I’ve accepted, which bothers me a little.  Would I be so accepting of those attitudes if he were a real person and I was caught in his cross-hairs?

I would hope not, because that doesn’t say much for me or the kind of treatment I’m willing to accept.  But maybe that’s why we can more easily forgive these foibles in fictional people, or real people that we’ll never meet.  Maybe we’re able to put our anger over their bad behavior aside because we admire so much else about them, and, hey, it’s not directly affecting us.

I’m not sure, but it would be an interesting topic to discuss with others.  So please, feel free to put your two cents (or four, etc.) in here.  I’d love to debate about this.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dolly Chamberlin
    Nov 01, 2013 @ 07:52:25

    When I hear someone say “He/she is a genius.” I ask “In what field?” Most people are considered a ‘genius’, but usually it’s in a particular field. Rarely are we introduced to someone who is a genius with a wide variety of knowledge on several topics. I agree, this is no excuse for being rude/inconsiderate. There is one I know of that I would consider a true genius. The documentary about him is entitled “The Brain Man”. A very humble person.
    LOVES :}

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 01, 2013 @ 08:12:49

      That’s very true, Mom, that geniuses are usually so only in one field. It’s nice to know there’s someone out there who has that intelligence & drive & is still a nice person.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

  2. Craig
    Nov 01, 2013 @ 08:50:31

    I usually think something like, “If they are such a genius, how is it they can’t figure out how to say please and thank you”? Common courtesy and simple manners aren’t that hard to figure out. It’s amazing how many people are allowed not to learn them.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 01, 2013 @ 12:03:39

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, Craig. And yet, I’m sure every one of us overlooks or excuses away the lack of those common courtesies in at least one individual. But, like I said above, I wonder why we do.

      Thanks for posting today.

      Reply

  3. HSS
    Nov 01, 2013 @ 12:21:22

    Geniuses, and the many others, that are given the ‘pass’ on bad behavior are like the popular girls in school. Everyone knows they’re snarky, mean and even cruel, but if you don’t give them a ‘pass’ you won’t get the invite to their party and you know you really, really, really wanna go, you know.

    It happens in parents groups too. The snarky rich blonde b***** who gets the ‘pass’ for her bad behavior, scathing condescension, and downright rudeness to all the volunteers at the school events because she runs the school fundraising committee and we really need that money if you volunteer she invites you to her gorgeous house overlooking the bay after for a thank you with food from the caterers, so you don’t want to piss her off. Probably why I don’t volunteer at school any more….er, cough, but, I digress.

    We give them the pass because we want to bask in their genius, popularity, celebrity or whatever else we envy about them. We want to hang around them so we’re willing to be mistreated. So it’s our own fault. Really.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 01, 2013 @ 12:55:09

      Wow! Very astute observations, Helen. I’m quite sure those are some of the main reasons, but yes, that doesn’t say too much about us, does it?

      Thanks for visiting today & bringing the great insight.

      Reply

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