|The Trouble with Moogwads
I run now.
morning, or nearly every morning, to the end of the Promenade and then
home, just under five miles.
for me, and it makes me feel good for the rest of the day.
things go wrong,
like how a couple
of weeks ago when it was real hot I was running in a sleeveless black
and then as I passed the Statue of Liberty I suddenly got real freaked
because I realized I was unintentionally recreating the
training scene from Mike
and got afraid
that a fat Black guy would go by on a bike and everyone would laugh and
would try to shut them up by pointing out that Little Mac was actually
a pink track suit in the training scene instead of his signature black
they would be like No he wasn’t and I would be like Yeah why
don’t you go play
the game if you don’t believe me but they would just keep
saying he was wearing
the black tank and I would keep arguing but then eventually realize
all along he was wearing the pink track suit and were just messing with
I fell for it.
mostly running goes just
told you he was wearing a pink track suit, ASSHOLES!!
fact, the only other thing that didn’t go fine was that
time I was finally turning back onto my street, sprinting the last
right as I got up to our building someone walked by smoking a cigarette
blew the smoke right in my face just as I was taking my first deep
smoking just over a year ago, and a
big part of the way I stay quit is being fanatical about exercise,
was an especially irritating confluence of habits. But
neither running nor smoking is the point
point is my reaction. I
didn’t say anything to the person, of
course, but I was pissed, and
the way that being pissed happened to manifest itself in my head in the
words was something like “Agh! Fucking
finish the thought, because I
think of any category of people who seemed exemplified by the trait of
“frequently blow smoke into the faces of joggers.”
yet, even though I
couldn’t, my mind
still wanted me to. My
mind wanted me to
ascribe a random act that annoyed me to a category
of people, rather than an individual.
of course, is what bigotry means.
would have finished
the thought with Jew,
fundie would have
finished the though with homosexual,
and so on.
saying that I couldn’t finish the thought, I’m not
holding myself up as a model of enlightenment and claiming that I am
are plenty of groups
of people I don’t like. I
that I dislike all of them with good reason: religious
molesters, panda poachers, etc. But
still, they are groups of people that I dislike.
just that none of them worked for
particular situation. Assuming
fiftysomething woman who blew smoke in my face was a kiddie-raping
panda-murderer seemed farfetched.
for the main group I blame my problems on, Christian Fundamentalists
in fact, as a depressive iconoclastic young
urban liberal poet, I myself probably belong to the demographic most
just that I personally
happen not to (anymore).
question is, why do we react this way at all?
do our minds bother taking the extra step
of ascribing group membership to the individual who inconvenienced us,
than just say “That
did XYZ, and it was shitty,” and leave it at that?
it’s because our skulls contain tools for making
connections between things. Our
didn’t evolve to go “Hey, that specific
individual plant had water
inside it; I’ll have to
remember where that
evolved to go “Hey, that plant had water
inside it; maybe every
that looks like
has water inside it,” because the
people whose brains did that had an eviable habit of not dying of
forward a few hundred thousand years,
and we have no trouble remembering which plants have water in them
(that's good!), but
is such a thing as racism (that's bad!).
was probably a little oversimplified, but you get the
idea: our minds are relentless connection-making machines, to
they do this even when it barely makes sense (“That bunch of
stars looks like a
bear to you? Um…
there’s just too much stuff to
keep track of: the more things are “all the same,”
the easier it is. Anyway,
now that we can just
whenever we need to know what’s inside plants and junk,
obviously we should
just stop all this categorizing business, especially with people,
only does bad stuff and doesn’t do any good stuff.
for all the good stuff it does.
how I said I quit smoking? Well,
in order to do that, I didn’t just
think about how the practice of smoking is bad for my health. I
had to think about people
smoke as a category, and start
to define myself contra
them. And then
start getting heavily
into exercise, which in turn required me to define myself contra people
don’t exercise. And
obviously I had to
think of such people as bad,
otherwise why would defining myself contra them be a motivator? I’m
not going to
do a bunch of
pain-in-the-ass stuff for an hour every damn day just to be different
from people if it’s
either way. You
only stick with that
shit if it makes you better
many ways, I’m just lucky. Since
can accurately tell which individuals
are out of shape by looking
at them, there’s no need for me to pick a group of people
(based on, say, the
color of their skin) and assume
they’re all out of shape. And
happen to actually
be smart, I have
no need to claim intellectual superiority based on my race or
gender — I can
claim it just fine by actually doing smart things in my capacity as an
individual, thank you very much. Were
some dumbass in a trailer park, on the other hand, then maybe the fact
happen to be the same race and gender as Einstein
and Shakespeare would seem
like a bigger deal. This
racism or sexism, of course — it’s just stating a
fact about their origins, which
I did because I am trying to do something about them.
also made it necessary for me to slander people who
live in trailer parks as a category, because I needed a memorable
attach to the concept of stupid people, and you can’t tell
whether people are
stupid just by looking at them.
maybe by how they’re dressed.
is also, conveniently, how prudes can effortlessly
tell who is a slut.
was harder to
do back when everyone dressed the same, of course — hence the
who had one
was one fewer person with a chance of getting into heaven instead of
this made for an amusing mental game to play while walking around the
from day to day, as well as an effective constant reminder to be extra
not to become one of those people yourself.
Okay, so this is
retarded when the prized behavior is a
stupid one like not having sex. But
about when the prized behavior is a genuinely valuable one like
not smoking, or working hard in school?
we can say that any genuinely valuable trait
reinforceable with positive role models rather than negative ones:
talking about how all the kids who don’t study are going to
work at McDonald’s,
just talk about how the kids who study the most are going to be rich. But
the first problem with
that is that the
kids who study the most are actually going to be teachers and hence
poor. And the
second problem is that it doesn’t
example, anyone who’s ever coached a little league team
knows that boys are easier to control than girls.
this is because boys are just
naturally a bit more hive-minded.
there’s the fact that boy
culture is predicated on
physical violence, so the ever-present threat that the alpha boys will
anyone who steps out of line does a good portion of the
coach’s work for
ultimately, you’ve got the fact
that every boy comes with a built-in way to get him immediately to stop
amend any undesirable behavior: just tell him he’s acting
like a girl. (By
junior high or so, this gets changed to
“faggot,” but the conditioning is already 99%
finished by then.)
fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the various
achievement gaps where boys come out ahead are attributable to the fact
there is simply no comparable insult you can use to motivate a young
the same way that you can motivate a young boy by comparing him to a
girl. Calling a
girl a boy would only be an insult
regarding stuff like knowing how to dress or put on
makeup — i.e., the stuff that
people are trying to get young girls to care less
about. In terms of
the stuff we want them to care more
about, being called a boy would be taken as a compliment, especially
lifetime of overhearing adults scold every boy who sucks at something
calling him a girl.
fact, even after the entrance into sexual maturity and
commerce between the genders, the Girl Who Can Do Boy
Things — drink beer, watch
sports, laugh at Beavis
and Butt-head — remains
an eminently desirable figure, as long as she fulfills the prerequisite
physical femininity (“Even though I’m hot,
like the other girls”).
even in the advantaged (i.e., effectively insultable)
group, in the long run the reinforcement is crippling.
was born smart, and then encouraged
to get even more smart, and on the whole this has worked out well for
me. But the process
made me hate stupid
people. And not
just to a healthy,
disapproving-of-racists degree, but to the degree that if I am talking
someone and it becomes clear that they don’t know the story
about how John
Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day and Adams’s
last words were
“Jefferson still lives” but actually Jefferson had
died a few hours earlier, it
honestly makes my skin crawl as if the person had told me that
fantasized about fucking a half-decayed moray eel in the eyehole before
auditorium full of kindergarteners.
someone who doesn’t know that isn’t even
the point here is that, for all the bad press it gets,
assigning negative characteristics to an
“otherized” group can
be beneficial for the people who do it — and not just in a
self-satisfied “making you feel better” way, but
actually assisting in a
lifelong process of self-improvement.
process is so important to our development
ideas will contort themselves in every way imaginable to avoid
explosion. After a
while, in fact, the disparaging terms
take on lives of their own, with little if any actual connection to the
groups to which they supposedly refer.
the way that frat guys use words like
“gay” and “fag,” for
instance. Is using
the same cheap move
over and over in a two-person fighting video game somehow
homosexuals? No. But
“gay,” and your friend is being a
“fag” when he does it. And
this would be a totally common-sense and effective way of getting him
if not for the fact that it happens to be horribly unfair to actual gay
who didn’t even do anything.
if all that’s necessary is for the word to refer to a
group of people who represent any and all undesirable behavior,
whether said undesirable behavior actually has anything to do with the
of that group… why don’t we just make one up?
just a word, but a group itself. I
you have never actually met a Moogwad, consider yourself
lucky, because they suck. They
dumb as posts, but think they know everything.
are butt-ugly, but are found attractive by
morons for some
reason. They are
constantly trying to be
funny, but aren’t. Whenever
trying to do something and it almost works, rest assured that a Moogwad
it up at the last second, and then blame everyone else.
never pay for things, because they are
either broke from being irresponsible or secretly have a lot of money
just greedy. They
devious and gullible. They
are not only
unimaginably cheap at video games, but then bitch about
it later on if someone
exact same thing to them. They
laid. Unless you
happen to be against
sex, in which case they are sluts.
light of all this, it truly is amazing that they get such special
everything is so easy for them.
this a shockingly accurate description of groups of
people you don’t like? Of
is. This is because
is an acronym for Member Of Other Group
defining trait of these people whom we dislike and who aren’t
us is the mere
fact that they aren’t us and we dislike them, there is no way
against them to be inaccurate. Hence,
prejudice against Moogwads should immediately be adopted by
everyone… in lieu
of prejudice against everyone else.
there is no reason not to do this.
there is another category of people about
which you still firmly believe that 99% of them suck, then even if you
is still slightly inaccurate to use a name for those people as an
1% of them do not suck. Therefore,
simply import all the individuals from that group who do in fact suck
new category of “Moogwads.” The
is 1% more accurate, and can also accommodate new people who suck, as
needed. Hell, since
Moogwads suck by
technically it isn’t even
the word Moogwad
itself is an ideal insult from a formalist perspective.
many of the most successful derogatory
terms, it is two syllables with the accent on the first and a
“g” sound in the
“oo” sound makes it
humorous, and the back-vowelized, almost schwa-like
“a” of the second syllable
renders it an eminently satisfying term for expressing anger. It
ends in “-wad,”
a nostalgic throwback to
junior-high insults. The
bovine associations of the initial “moo”
imply stupidity, servility, herd
mentality, and ultimately powerlessness.
itself easily to useful phrases like:
acting like a Moogwad.”
are you, some kind of Moogwad?”
special rights for Moogwads!”
Moogwad, why don’t you go back to Poofam*?”
*(Place Of Origin For All Moogwads)
only downside is that there is no way to tell who is a
Moogwad without actually interacting with them.
pre-existing categories cannot be imported
wholesale into the
category of Moogwad, only individuals on a case-by-case basis. This
is the price we pay
for the just nature
of our opposition to Moogwads: we must sacrifice convenience for
accuracy. There is
no way to tell a Moogwad just by
if you’re at a theater and you see someone coming out
of one of those fucking movies that’s just called “[Something]
Movie” and is just a
bunch of references to other recent movies
and half the time it isn’t even an actual joke about the
other movie but just
someone repeating the exact same dialogue from the other movie and how
even a joke? Give
him the benefit of the
he’s only there because his
mom made him take his little brother or something.
isn’t necessarily a Moogwad.
he’s also wearing this: