WASHINGTON, DC—According to a Georgetown University study released Tuesday, 79 percent of Americans are missing the point entirely with regard to such wide-ranging topics as politics, consumerism, taxes, entertainment, fashion, and professional wrestling.
"From the overweight housewife who eats bag after bag of reduced-fat Ruffles, to the school board that bans Huckleberry Finn for using the word 'nigger,' to the Manhattan stockbroker who uses recycled-paper checks to pay for gas for his behemoth SUV, the tendency of Americans to really just not get it transcends all boundaries of class, color, religion, sexual orientation, and political persuasion," said Dr. Ronald Shaw of Georgetown's Center For American Studies.
Polling nearly 8,000 Americans on a variety of subjects, the study found that only 21 percent of those surveyed had even the slightest clue.
"Our research revealed that the thought processes of a large majority of Americans are profoundly and fundamentally flawed," Shaw said. "We came to define this peculiar deviation as 'having one's head up one's ass.'"
Offering an example, Shaw said that when a group of people who had undergone cosmetic surgery were asked, "Why do some individuals feel the need for cosmetic surgery while others do not?," 54 percent of them responded that people who opt for such procedures have greater self-worth than those who don't.
"In other words," Shaw said, "they believed that people who don't feel the need to spend thousands of dollars on facelifts and collagen lip injections lack pride in their looks, failing to acknowledge their own wholesale buying into the notion that in our society, a person's value is determined by his or her appearance."
Another manifestation of the missing-the-point phenomenon, Shaw said, is college students' habit of purchasing posters that advertise products. "Companies normally pay to have their wares touted," Shaw said. "But an incredibly high number of college undergraduates are willing to plunk down $15 for a poster of the Taco Bell chihuahua or Budweiser lizards, enabling companies to generate revenue from something that is supposed to be an expense."
The study also cited the public's constant call for more wholesome, family-friendly movies that do not insult their intelligence, as well as its failure to patronize such films when they are offered.
"To date, Adam Sandler's Big Daddy has grossed $161 million, with a majority of its audience consisting of children under the age of 14," Shaw said. "Contrasting this is the challenging, critically lauded flop The Iron Giant, which has barely broken the $20 million mark."
Despite the preponderance of evidence supporting its findings, the Georgetown study has drawn widespread criticism from the American public.
"If I want to miss the point, that's my own business," said Ernie Schayr, a Wheeling, WV, auto mechanic. "If I want to complain about having to pay taxes while at the same time demanding extra police protection for my neighborhood, that's my right as an American. Most people in other countries don't ever get the chance to miss the point, and that's tragic. The East Timorese are so busy fleeing for their lives, they never have the chance to go to the supermarket during the busiest time of the week and complain to the cashier about how long the lines are and ask them why they don't do something about it."