For a while I’ve been pondering the meaning of the long-running Private Eye feature Dumb Britain, which exists to point and laugh at the less clever responses contestants give to questions on TV and radio quiz shows. It’s all about extent and limits of cultural literacy, essentially the assumptions we make about what people should be expected to know. I referred to Dumb Britain in my dissertation, if you can be bothered to pretend to be interested; the issue was whether anyone under 50 could be expected to know the name of the Long Ranger’s horse.
I would appear that the editors have become sensitive to accusations of elitism, because they’ve started to include the correct answers. Although, if the readers need to be told what the answers are, doesn’t that suggest the hapless contestants may not be that dumb after all?