I have a fondness for llamas.  It started when I worked with them as a teenager, and it has continued even though I am now more of a bird person than a mammal person.  I collect them (and have almost 50) and even have llama earrings, a llama sweatshirt, and a couple of t-shirts.

I’ve noticed something about llamas in pop culture.  They are sometimes used correctly (as in the Disney movie The Emperor’s New Groove, set in Incan South America) and sometimes incorrectly (as in a very brief appearance in the movie Troy) but mostly they are used oddly.

A quick search of “llama” on YouTube turns up Llamas with Hats (which is disconcertingly amusing), the Llama Song (llama llama duck, anyone?) and Funny Llama Attack (which isn’t funny, if you know anything about llamas).  Two are incredibly random and only really have llamas because they can, and the other is popular because it seems odd to people who don’t know llama behavior.  (To those of us who are familiar, that llama is clearly imprinted and the guy must have done something the llama saw as a threat.)  A little further down there’s an old Monty Python sketch, which is also incredibly random.

A llama shows up in Napoleon Dynamite and refuses to eat ham.  (Since she’s a herbivore, one can hardly blame her.)  There are t-shirts that say “Save the Drama for your Llama” and “You Will Obey the Llama” as well as a multitude of references to the two above-mentioned YouTube videos.  (I may own a Llama Llama Duck t-shirt.)

While I think llamas are awesome, many other people think they are odd enough to be funny.  Their appearance alone can make people chuckle, which in turn adds another level of humor to highly random things.  I’m not sure if I should be amused at this or bothered by it.


What’s Wrong With Smart?

When did it become fashionable to be an idiot? 

Celebrities, especially female ones, tend to downplay their intelligence.  They’d rather be thought to be trendy, skinny, or cute than smart.  Even men – macho, strong, good looking, but not smart.  It’s gotten to the point that when someone who is famed for being an actor, or a singer, or even just famous, does or says something intelligent, one of two things happen: people don’t believe them, or they become a joke.  Intelligence is important – with it, you can better understand the world and its people, you can advance in a career, you can make a mark on the planet.  Try telling that to the trendsetters, or teenagers.

I like being intelligent.  This does get me into trouble (the liking, not the brains) because I can (and sometimes do) come across as a know-it-all.  But I like feeling smart, I like hanging out with smart people, I like reading non-fiction and occasionally enjoying a PBS special or museum exhibit.  Intelligence is good, it is something to revel in.  Most of my characters (especially females) are very clever or smart, most of my favorite book and movie characters are as well.

So why are we so eager to downplay our brains?  What is wrong with being smart?