So, I just got a text from my sister talking about that new movie, Divergent. She went to see it over the weekend, and she said it was pretty good, for what it was. I'll warn you now, what follows will have some spoilers for the film. If you plan to see it, and don't want it ruined, then walk away now.
So, back to my sister's text. She was pretty much okay with the movie as a whole, but she had one major issue with it.Her main gripe was that the "bad guys" were the Erudite Faction, a.k.a. the thinkers and intelligentsia of that world. Apparently, the plot line centers around the Erudites planning to take over all of the other factions, because they felt they were better than everyone else. Of course, the only ones who can stop them are the naturally independent thinkers, the Divergents. One problem with that- apparently, the only Divergents worth anything are all members of the Dauntless faction, i.e. the muscle of that society. Even the protagonist's mother is later revealed to be a Divergent herself, who had been intended for the Dauntless faction before choosing another. So, in essence, the "good guys" are the ones who reject institutionalized education, who are naturally fierce, and who are capable of great physical prowess. So, in other words, they are the jocks.
And I'm just wondering, when did intelligence come to be synonymous with evil? Why is it that so many films and books today equate intelligence with negative traits? From Hannibal Lector to the most recent spate of Thor movies, almost without exception (yes, Tony Stark, I know), the villain is presented as being very intelligent, often more so than the protagonist. They value knowledge, and acquire it hungrily, while the hero will rely much more on his or her gut instincts. This troubles me.
In school, I was identified very early on as being "gifted." I won't go into all the details, but it led to me receiving a great deal of accelerated learning. This set me apart from my peers, and often seemed to earn great disdain from them. I was often encouraged to disguise my intelligence, to play dumb so as not to make others feel uncomfortable around me. But I wasn't running around screaming quantum physics theorems at them! I just wanted to talk about the same things they did, like which member of that boy band was the cutest, or what color I should pick for my painting in art class. And I always expected that to end eventually, but it never has. Even now, I've been cautioned by my supervisors to use "more common" words, so my coworkers don't feel like I'm rubbing my greater vocabulary in their faces. And it just all begs the question: When did intelligence become a negative trait?
For the record, I do try very hard to relate to each person in my life, personally and professionally, on their level. I am not socially awkward, and I do have many friends, from all walks of life. So, please know that I'm not going around speaking to people like I'm some reject from "Real Science." It's not about being socialized or not. I'm just wondering when society as a whole stopped prizing education and intelligence, and instead started to fear these attributes. I suppose that you can argue it's always been this way, and you'd be right on many levels. I'm not talking about the Middle Ages, when eclipses were acts of one deity or another. I'm not even talking about the 19th and 20th centuries, when science ceased being known as alchemy. I'm talking about modern history. Nearly every object we use in our daily lives was either envisioned or created by an intelligent person. However, if you see a scientist on film, nine times out of ten, they're an evil scientist. Even Ozymandias**, who wore a hero's disguise, was revealed to be a villain in the end.
So, what are your thoughts on this? Is this just human nature, to fear that which you do not understand? Is it something that we are encouraging, just like gender roles that are reinforced by popular media? Or is it both? Share your thoughts with me, please. I'm very curious to know what your take is on this topic. I hope you're all having a wonderful day, and that your weekends will be amazing, every last one of you!
**From the film and comics The Watchmen