About those Hollywood smarties

I went to NBC’s site looking for something else entirely, and got waylaid by a link to Hollywood brainiacs.  I found it somewhat interesting, at least initially.  Before I begin, though, let me say that I’m absolutely certain a lot of the actors and actresses profiled are indeed really, really smart.  Having said that, there were two things that caught my eye:

1.  NBC has a clear institutional bias:  with only two exceptions (NYU and UCLA), the only people in Hollywood that NBC thinks are “smart” are the who went to Ivy League schools or Stanford.  Apparently any other universities just don’t cut the smart mustard.  As someone who knows lots of smart people who didn’t go to the Ivy Leagues, and a fair number of not-so-brights who did, I found this a peculiar line to draw.  This is especially true because many of these stars were drop-outs.  I’m more impressed with someone who graduates from, say, the University of Florida summa cum laude, than with someone who can’t hack it at the Ivies.

2.  A disproportionate number of NBC’s “smart” stars are Columbia grads or Columbia attendees.  Columbia is an interesting place.  It used to be a very Jewish university.  It is now one of the universities must hostile to Jews and to any conservative thought.  Ahmadinejad is welcome there; Ann Coulter is not.  Now, Ann may display a certain lack of tact in what she says, but she’s no Ahmadinejad when it comes to inflammatory statements.  And unlike Ahmadinejad, she doesn’t have a nuclear arsenal to back up those same statements.  Yet she is not welcome at Columbia, and he is. I pay very little attention to the lives of individual Hollywood people and, in fact, hadn’t heard of many of the names on the list, so I have no idea what their personal politics and beliefs are.  I just find it interest that so many of them attended college distinguished for its far-Left, antisemitic politics.

After finding the above two strands, I got bored, and didn’t bother to see if there were any other patterns linking those “smart” stars.  Do you see any?

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  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Some interesting data here.

  • Sonic Charmer

    Another obvious pattern is that the vast majority on that list are female. (Some of the ones who aren’t, aren’t your typical Hollywood males, e.g. David Duchovny.)

    Anyway I’m sure it’s mostly just lazy research. It’s easy some some junior staff person to filter on or Google on a short-list of universities when compiling this sort of list. Adding to the laziness: NBC seems as impressed by merely ‘attending’ some Ivy league university for a couple years, as they are by actually graduating from one. But it takes very little to ‘attend’ a university, especially for a celebrity. Major also doesn’t seem to matter (Adam Sandler actually makes the list for his ‘fine arts’ degree from NYU…), let alone degree (undergrad is just as good as graduate degree).

    It may be that the pattern demonstrated in the ‘brainiacs’ article is really symptomatic of some other cause – like, more women than men in Hollywood feel the need to validate themselves by going to college. Perhaps the typical college acting class is more geared toward women in one way or another, than men, thus college just isn’t as often a pathway to stardom for men.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Don’t be silly, David Foster. Your link is about corporate executives. Those aren’t smart people. They just run large organizations of people, making goods and services that create jobs that employ thousands upon thousands of people while managing their financial performance to ensure that they create profits (value) for the owners of their organization.

    Book is referring to really, really smart people. You know…the people that pretend to be other people for a living.

  • Bill C

    My Dad was his High School valedictorian and later was graduated from the University of Iowa as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. My mother’s cousin, who was quite left including a friendship tour to the U.S.S.R., and my father did not get along and he would use his Princeton degree as a cudgel. My father called him “the cousin who went to Princeton and never got over it.”

  • Oldflyer

    Oh Book, now you have done it.

    The University of Florida, (which would have been my alma mater if I hadn’t dropped out to go into flight training back when the Navy didn’t think you needed a college degree to fly an airplane from an aircraft carrier) has damn good academic credentials–now.

    By the way my wife did graduate summa cum laude. I know she is smart, because she calls me the smartest guy she ever met; and yet she is able to micro-manage me.

    One daughter went to the U. of Virginia, which is recognized for its academics; the other went to the U. of Florida which doesn’t seem to be. Don’t ask me which is the smartest, because I don’t know. BTW their SAT scores were identical.

  • BrianE

    With a few exceptions such as Ben Stein, Economics, Claire Danes, Psychology, Rashida Jones, Religion and Philosophy, and Asiha Tyler, Environmental Policy, their degrees were in English, Literature (mostly English Literature) or History with a couple of Fine Arts degrees thrown in (what’s the opposite, Course Arts?).
    Now, I have no intention of knocking those who took the easy path through school since I have a minor in English, but how hard is it to make up stuff about other stuff? It’s like, there is no wrong answer.
    Years ago I was on the school board of our Christian School. We struggled to find qualified Science and Math teachers, so I proposed we pay qualified teachers in those disciplines more to compete with schools in more urban areas. Needless to say, all the English majors objected.

  • http://explorations.chasrmartin.com Charlie (Colorado)

    Well, they did manage to find the only bad picture Famke Janssen ever took.

  • Mike Devx

    Speaking of smarties, as they go after Sarah Palin, her defenders keep on attacking right back. Another pure delight, this time all against MZZZZZZZZ Maureen Dowd!

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/08/maureen_dowd_sarah_palin_scare.html

  • Mike Devx

    And one of the early comments from that American Thinker article, summing it all up nicely!

    I am sitting on my boat in beautiful Friday Harbor. All afternoon and evening I have run into fellow boaters who stare at my t-shirt. “Pro gun, Pro God, Pro Life” it says beneath “Palin2012″. I actually hope some will be liberals just so I can get the vicarious pleasure of seeing their face crinkle up, with that look of utter disgust. But alas, weekend after weekend of boating here, and not a SINGLE liberal look. In fact, people actually grin from ear-to-ear, often giving me the thumbs up, or stopping to chat, pointing out the obvious: Sarah Palin is the quintessential American woman. Elegant, but not snooty, articulate but not pretentious in her words and manner. Devoted Mom, Wife, and Alaskan. Christian, and proud of it. Oh how I could go on and on . . . She reminds me of life 50 years ago, when the accepted version of the ideal woman was exactly like Gov. Palin.

    How things have changed.

    By the way, who is Maureen Dowd?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I can’t really agree with you, Book, here. I really don’t believe the Hollywood actors are smarter than me.

    I do have some respect for Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bruce Willis, Gary Sinise, and some other minor actors and singers that I can’t recall at this moment.

    By the way, who is Maureen Dowd?

    Palin’s evil mirror image.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Btw, I tend to think actors and actresses are notoriously susceptible to propaganda because their entire lives have been trained to take directions from the Puppetmaster, aka Director, while ignoring their own feelings and thoughts.

    Excuse me, but that’s the recipe for creating a useful idiot or a puppet for propagandists.

    I know, I’ve studied the matter carefully here. Not acting, but propaganda and manipulation. You really don’t want people who are genuine. They don’t make good propaganda targets. You want people with high empathy values, who are nonetheless not very clear in their self-identity. You want people able to take instruction from a higher power, aka the Director and script writer, who won’t suddenly ad lib their own version of things.

    Once a person gets through this training session, combined with the guilt absolute wealth brings, and guess how many viable candidates you get in Hollywood for the propaganda mill.

  • Charles Martel

    Please, oh please, God, don’t let “Who is Maureen Dowd?” crowd out the ever-so-much-better “Who is John Galt?”

    Please.