There’s been plenty of kvetching about Diesel’s latest ‘Be Stupid’ ad campaign. I just saw the “Smart Listens to the Head/Stupid Listens to the Heart/Be Stupid” version on the street. Initially, I gave it an eyeroll.
I take it back. I think there might actually be a message here beyond the obvious you’d-have-to-be-stupid-to-buy-$250-jeans joke.
Diesel’s using ‘Smart’ as a metaphor for what’s expected, certain, rational. Smart might be safe, but we live in a world that’s increasingly not. We’re caught in a shitstorm of uncertainty; a place where forces out of our control – economic instability, terrorist threats, environmental repercussions – mean we’re not quite sure what to expect anymore.
If going to X college no longer nets us Y job and Z lifestyle – if what’s to come is indifferent to what we’ve been conditioned to want – what’s our next move? How do we go on?
Most of us live in two tenses: We plan for the future, or we long for the past. Why do we ignore the present?
Because it’s where things change; where what’s done gets undone; where what was to be no longer is.
The present leaves us marooned on an island amoral to our individual wants and needs, one where nothing exists before or after right now. The only way to deal with it is to just be what you are, the most honest version of yourself.
This probably sounds like a pseudo-intellectual crock of shit. Stupid, if you will.
Diesel’s latest ad campaign isn’t telling us to dumb ourselves down.
It’s telling us to live in the now. It’s telling me not to go to law school and be a lawyer and save my money so I can eventually do what I really want to do, which is be a writer; it’s telling me to write now, even if it puts me on the poverty line.
We’ve all got our own versions of Diesel’s Smart/Stupid story. Maybe the silver-lining of the current climate is the freedom to pursue the alternative, the ideal, what’s not expected of us, what we really want.
I’m on board. Be Stupid.