Remembering The Stupids
When my kids were little, they loved the Stupids and so did I. The Stupids Step Out, The Stupids Have a Ball, even The Stupids Die. For the uninitiated, the Stupids are a family that takes everything literally and foolishly, ignoring even the most commonsense conventions. Even today, when something turns out not exactly as planned, someone in the family will observe, “The Stupids buy a car” or “The Stupids cook dinner for twelve” or even, “The Stupids start grad school.” It’s a long-standing family joke.
I was sort of delighted to discover that the series ranked #26 on the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently challenged or banned books during the 90s. Challengers claimed the books depicted families in a derogatory manner. Of course, that’s exactly what kids love about them.
So I’m wondering if authors James Allard, Jr. and James Marshall might be considering a new book: “The Stupids Are Elected to the Legislature.” OK, just a little joke. Parody, protected under the First Amendment.
The idea popped into my mind (ha ha) with the news of the Florida Legislature considering allowing advertising on school buses. This move is nothing new, of course; other states have done it to defray the costs of busing. I’ve written about what a bad idea this is a couple of times because no matter what they say, advertising on buses carries the implied product approval of the school to an audience not old enough to be critical. But Florida legislators presented some new, unusual reasons to advertise on school buses beside additional revenue.
Senator Thad Altman, R-Viera, said that he believes that plain yellow school buses are boring. “I’d like to see them jazzed up a little bit,” the Senator said. “If it’s done right, it could be fun.”
In all my years as a superintendent making sure all our buses passed the yearly state inspection, no one ever criticized our buses for being “boring.” But what a concept! Think of all the buildings and landmarks that could be “jazzed up” with a little advertising. The Washington Monument. Mount Rushmore. The Alamo. Everything could look like Times Square!
In another original take on the problem, Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto worried not about pandering to children, but about how advertising on school buses would exacerbate feelings of economic inequality among students. In other words, kids who could buy the products advertised on the bus would make fun of kids who couldn’t. “Ha Ha, my family can buy a Lexus 350 and yours can’t,” kids might say, for example, to kids whose families can only afford a Ford Focus. That’s my example, not Sen. Benacquisto’s. She probably has a better one.
State Senator Larcenia Bullard worried about ads for alcohol on school buses, but the proposed bill prohibits ads for alcohol and tobacco as well as other products inappropriate for kids. With a third of our children overweight, you have to wonder if McDonald’s and other fast food franchises fall into that latter category or whether they will have even greater access to children than they already have in many schools.
So you can see why I think there are possibilities for a new Stupids book – maybe a series of books. If you can laugh at it, it won’t make you crazy.