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Worst Comparison Ever? Or, The Stereotyping of Smart

So there’s a growing trend comparing Barack Obama to Spock.


You can view and buy the above painting here.

I have to say, it’s a really bad comparison. And that’s nothing against Spock. In fact, Zachary Quinto might’ve been the best thing in the new Star Trek. And the movie does, with minor flaws, rule. Nothing more satisfying than when Hollywood actually carries a good premise all the way through an entire movie, which these days seems a rarity.


About the Barack-Spock thing, we have a smart president again, and we’ve lost our minds because it’s something we aren’t used to. Perhaps it’s just me reacting personally to the stereotype that if somebody is smart, they are hyper-rational or too logical (as an emotional, smart teenager, I remember being pegged as highly logical–as Spock-like–just because I UNDERSTOOD logic, but like Barack, I was no Spock. Not that I’m like Barack either). Just because someone understands logic does not make them cold and stoic, any more than someone who is clueless in the face of coherent thought (Dubya) is a warm-hearted, emotive person. Smart people come in all shapes and sizes and types, and intelligence isn’t one thing. It is myriad things.

There. I’m done talking about Star Trek for a while. But the point is there are many different types of smart. Also, there’s just some super-silly analysis of the character of our 44th president going on, and not all of it emanates from Sean Hannity.

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posted May 10, 2009 at 11:14 pm

I saw the Spock references less about stereotyping smart as lifeless and more about unsuccessfully weaving in higher tech allusions to talk about a traditionally lower tech industry, about getting a population interested in watching Star Trek to be interested in saving newspapers. about needlessly making unidimensional a man who frankly defies stereotype. to what end? O’Dowd spent precious time and space insisting on a metaphor instead of delving more deeply into the pressing issue. The Spock analogy is so distracting, I spent more time trying to conjure up reasons why O’Dowd might have used it vs mulling over the possible remedies for the tragic situation journalism is in.
all that said, and Obama and O’Dowd aside, I do agree with you that folks who are logical are often assumed to be emotionless. however, there is also the mad scientist stereotype that closely associates genius with boundless passion. so, smart isn’t always seen as emotionally bereft.

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posted May 11, 2009 at 9:30 am

Everything Maureen O’Dowd says is stupid.

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posted May 11, 2009 at 9:56 am

It’s Maureen Dowd. Not Maureen O’Dowd.

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posted May 11, 2009 at 10:53 am

Gzza & Rigdenpoet – you guys are funny together.

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Tim Murphy

posted December 1, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Spock rules

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posted January 6, 2011 at 5:06 am

I don’t think I’ve ever met one who fit the stereotype of a “dumb blonde.

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posted January 6, 2011 at 5:08 am

I don’t think I’ve ever met one who fit the stereotype of a “dumb blonde.
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