Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Although my 2007 attempt to become a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was unsuccessful, I am thankful to that show for helping me to formulate a rule concerning something I continually see in real life. I call it The 5% Rule. Here's how it works:
In any large group of people, 5% will be assholes.
(If one wishes to delineate further, the assholes can be broken down into subcategories: stupid assholes, vapid assholes, and mean assholes. Only someone such as I [an anal asshole, department of redundancies department] would feel the need to do such a thing, so, of course, I'm going to do it.)
I first learned of this phenomenon while watching Millionaire. On the show, contestants are given multiple choice questions, with four possible answers - A, B, C, or D. If a contestant feels unsure about answering a particular question, he or she has options in acquiring help to do so. One of the options is for the studio audience to be polled concerning how they would answer the question. Way more often than not, the answer given by the majority of the audience turns out to be the right answer. However, without fail, the least probable of the four answers was chosen by approximately 5% of those in the audience.
Choosing the wrong answer on a quiz doesn't automatically confer assholedom upon you. But, some of the answers chosen by the 5% were patently absurd, often put there by the writers as comic relief and obviously not meant to be seriously considered. Still, 5% of the crowd decided to choose that answer.
The reasons they would have given concerning why they chose such an answer would no doubt be informative, but - so far as I know - nobody has ever done follow-up interviews with those audiences asking them that question. Too bad. Here's my best guess.
Stupid - Some folks would no doubt honestly feel that the ridiculous answer was the right answer, so they'd be the stupid assholes.
However, the main reason for giving the answer, in my as-humble-as-I-can-be-while-calling-people-assholes opinion, is generally either vapid or mean.
Vapid - The person feels that the ridiculous answer is funny, and he/she wishes to be seen as funny, too, so the feeling is that by choosing that answer, the ability to be funny has become theirs as well as the writer who came up with it.
Nope. Laughing at something funny is no problem. Self-identifying as funny because you feel that giving a funny answer written by someone else actually makes you funny is sad. Welcome to Assholeland! Population: 5%
Mean - The person truly wishes to give the contestant the worst imaginable answer. This subset of asshole is, by far, the worst. Not only is this person an asshole, he or she is quite possibly intelligent enough to recognize that he or she is one, but still remains one even after that recognition. I am in favor of legislation which would allow the removal of their reproductive organs in as painful a manner as is possible. Maybe with a hatchet.
(I know, I know. It would never become law. That's only because so many assholes are currently serving as elected officials. Oddly enough, the 5% rule is exactly opposite when it comes to politicians. Only 5% are NOT assholes.)
Now, one has to be careful when one starts throwing around pejoratives such as "asshole". It usually needs to be qualified. The possibility of being an asshole must sometimes be seen in relation to the surroundings. For instance, the United States of America is composed of 50 states. If the 5% rule holds, one would expect to find either 2 or 3 in that bunch of 50 which qualify as asshole states. And one does, too. However, if you're from the northeast, the asshole states are generally seen as Florida and Texas. If you're from the south? California, New York, and Massachusetts. Assholery is relative, as many people find out over the holidays.
Another example? Baseball teams. There are 25 men on the roster at most times. Therefore, there will usually be 1 or 2 assholes in the group. If you've been following the Red Sox for the past decade, it was either Manny Ramirez or Curt Schilling - or both. If the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez was usually the obvious choice, but the stink of Roger Clemens wasn't easy to hide, either.
More? OK. Take a look at this poll over at Universal Hub. See the bottom two choices? They added up to 5% when I first linked this, but close enough in any case. Easy to see that those who chose the bottom option probably are benignly vapid. Ho Ho! What's a crucifix? I vote for funny! The other option? Possibly intelligent, probably uncaring concerning any other human being's feelings. Assholes? When compared to the peaceful choices possible, and made by the other respondents, yes.
(I feel I should point out that I didn't post that poll to prove my theory. However, when the results were in, it reminded me of it.)
I could go on, but you get the point, and only an asshole keeps on explaining after his point has been made.
By the way, if you leave a comment and there are 19 other comments that seem reasonable and friendly... well, you know. Of course, if one of the comments is mine, you have nothing to worry about.
Soon, with more better stuff.