Thus spake Montgomery Burns (if not in exactly those words), and if the humor of that remark comes from the absurdity of Burns’s assumptions…well, the assumption itself may be absurd, but that he assumes it’s shared does reflect a certain reality: one of the major levers grasped by anyone seeking to manipulate the public (advertisers, politicians, etc.) is the potent resistance many people have to believing that others actually and genuinely have opinions different from their own.
You can see this in the culture wars underway on behalf of the Great American Middle Class (everyone’s middle-class in America! but only some of them are white, which remains unspoken), kindly engineered by the sort of folks who lose count of how many houses they own, in which a sinister significance is attributed to one’s preference in vegetables, heated beverages, or ostentatious display of nationalistic bric-a-brac. Not only are such odd preferences different, which is just weird, but those who profess to enjoy the latte that dare not speak its name are suspected of doing so merely to mark out their difference and their superiority from the riff-raff, and to toady to some imaginary overclass (“the elitists”) whose mission seems to be to denigrate the tastes and preferences of “real Americans” in lieu of the trivial, the ephemeral, the fashionable, and – worst of all – the French. (Don’t try to tell me “latte” is from the Italian – it sounds French, so it is French. And what’s the difference anyway? They all wear fancy-ass shoes, and they lose wars like the Phillies lose baseball games.)
This is why it’s such a seemingly short leap from trivial questions of taste to the more serious matter of insincerity, fifth-columnism, and hidden agendas: if you’re willing to pretend to like bizarre vegetables and elaborate coffees, there’s no telling what else in your life is a pretense, a sucking-up to expectations…so all the flag pins, nice suits, and patriotic speeches mean nothing, because you’ll say anything to curry favor.
And god help you if you prefer to deliberate, analyze, plan, or do anything other than kick ass and react from the gut. Real Americans – which is to say, real men – don’t waste time cogitating and hawing and hemming, they get out there and play some rapid-fire chin music. You don’t see John Wayne heading the debate club, do you? My favorite story in this regard involves a former co-worker of Rose’s who, after Rose argued such-and-such, citing various facts, statistics, etc., replied that Rose’s opinions weren’t as valuable – because Rose had relied upon what she knew, and on ideas, whereas the co-worker felt what she did from the heart. Or, in the other common phrase, she operated from a gut feeling.
You know, you can’t really figure out what your guts are up to from an upright position. I think the optimal view probably comes from bending over backwards and sticking one’s head straight up the poop chute.
Another advantage to that position: you won’t be bothered by that demon sun.