“I cannot abide stupidity in myself or in others.” Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers is known for two things: dancing with Fred Astaire and doing everything he did, but backwards and in heels. He may have choreographed the dances, he may have been a phenomenal dancer himself, but it was Rogers who made them look good. Astaire got all his gifts in the dancing department, but Rogers was not only  a beautiful dancer she was beautiful. But not in an aloof, unattainable manner. According to TIME magazine, she was “The flesh-and-blood symbol of the US working girl”, an Oscar winning actor who portrayed smart alecky, gum chewing  no nonsense plucky gals, gals who weren’t afraid of hard work. In truth, Rogers herself was that kind of gal. Shortly before his death  Astaire spoke of the grueling rehearsels , how all his co-stars cried. “All except Ginger. No, no Ginger never cried.” While she may not have shed a tear over her sore feet and legs, it must have caused her endless despair and frustration that, not only was she paid less than Astaire, she also received less than many of the other male actors who didn’t even have the same amount of screen time, let alone have the endless dancing routines. Thankfully, and proof that she was a smart girl, as soon as was  legally possible she cut herself lose from her contract, became a free agent, and  made some dosh.

I  have watched Rogers many times when she has given interviews and what stands out is that she comes across exactly the way you imagine her from her films. She is someone who not only may have disliked stupidity, but also would have had a low tolerance for bullshit. Always in control, she never  allows herself to be drawn into a conversation or  to reveal personal details that she does not want revealed- even when it is Joan Rivers who is doing the asking. She may have been married five times, but there was never a hint of scandal or any  salacious public displays. Her behaviour could never be described as ‘stupid’ unlike many of her contemporaries today.

Voltaire said many amusing and clever things and I am having a bit of a love fest with him at the minute, and I could spend the rest of this entry listing examples of his fab work ,but that would probably be tedious and  you might wonder what an eighteenth century  French Enlightenment philosopher has in common with a twentieth century Hollywood star. But  fear not. There is a connection. Voltaire frequently spoke of how common sense is not so common, that often we assume people have more sense, more wits about them than in reality they do. I mean just how many WTF moments should there be in any given day. Why do so many people not stop and check either what they are  about to say or do, or use a filter ? Why instead do they spew forth  such complete and utter rubbish that it makes you fear for the future of the human race.

Too much of our media appeals to the lowest common denominator that you have to wonder when did stupidity become attractive or glamorous?  That a certain family is newsworthy appalls me, and I can only imagine what Rogers would have to say about the lack of talent, the lack of skill and the lack of work that too many of the famous now exhibit.

I hope that smarts, hard work and talent will once again take center stage, that popularity will rest on something other than one’s rather large posterior. In the meantime we shall always have..