Christina Aguilera flubbed up the "Star Spangled Banner" lyrics at the Super Bowl last night, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was more than just an innocent case of nerves. Was it an illustrated example of how our democracy is devolving into an Idiocracy?
For those of you who haven't seen it, I have to tell you -- Idiocracy, a 2006 movie made by Mike Judge (the same guy who did Beavis & Butthead and Office Space), is supposed to be a satirical comedy, but it really struck me as a horror film. The flick follows two average people who, as the result of a military experiment gone awry, end up in the year 2505. In the future, our country is completely run by commericalism (people drink a green sports drink instead of water), and everyone is a total moron (the Oscar-award winning Best Picture that year is just a close-up of someone's ass).
No, Judge's skin-crawling version of the future isn't inevitable, but Christina's screw-up seemed like a sign that we might be headed there ...
When my boyfriend's sister-in-law heard the goof, she turned to me immediately and said, "Wow. Makes me think of this awful stat I heard once that 92 percent of American students think there are 52 states!"
I don't know where she got that number, but I'm not all that surprised. I tried rationalizing it immediately, though. Maybe kids thought it was a trick question? But then she said that some of the respondents called Alaska and Hawaii the 51st and 52nd states. OMG, what???
To see if this one example of ignorance is a glaring anomaly, I did a bit of my own independent research. (Yeah, I'm a nerd like that.) What I found was definitely disconcerting: Pew research shows 41 percent of Americans can't name Joe Biden as vice-president. Two-thirds of Americans don't know the name of a single U.S. Supreme Court justice. Only about a third of Americans know that the government's bailout of banks and financial institutions was enacted under the Bush administration (thanks for continuing to serve as the GOP's best publicist, FOX News!)
But the most directly applicable finding I stumbled upon was a 2004 poll called "The National Anthem Project" ... It found that nearly two in three Americans (61 percent) don't know the words to "The Star Spangled Banner." And an ABC News Poll found one in three teens don’t even know that the National Anthem is called "The Star Spangled Banner."
While it looks like Christina is in good company, that doesn't make the incident any less cringe-worthy. But we can't cringe for her alone; we're clearly guilty, as well.
What's the fix? One performer last night seemed to know. Will.I.Am hit the nail on the head when, during the halftime show, he switched up the lyrics to "Where Is The Love," rapping, "Obama, let's get these kids educated!"
Did Christina's flub-up make you think about how little we as Americans know about our own country?
Image via YouTube