Maybe It’s the Podium That Makes People Say Stupid Things

For the past nine months, we’ve seen plenty of politicians say stupid things. Trump is probably leading the pack in the jaw-dropping odd, weird, or just plain stupid department. But he’s not alone. I’ve also found myself shaking my head at Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and others (used in an all-inclusive sense.)

But it wasn’t until this week that I had an amazing revelation. The cause of all this stupidity might not trace itself back to any mis-firing of a brain synapse. I discovered that the reason for stupidity might be more of an environmental factor – one that, oddly enough, is related to furniture. A podium to be more precise.

Yes, it’s true. The podium made them say it.

How do I know this? I discovered this quite inadvertently as I introduced a new drama game into our theatre arts classroom. A game I called “press conference.”

The premise is simple. I give one person a scenario and they come to the podium and say “and now I’ll take some questions” and the rest of the students have to act as reporters asking questions about the given scenario. Some scenarios I used were:

  • You are a police chief reporting on two prisoners who escaped from a penitentiary.
  • You are a town mayor dedicating a new park.
  • You are a politician who has been accused of corruption.
  • You are a presenter at a healthcare conference, introducing a new line of skin care products.

You get the idea. The game started, and the class joined in with much gusto. It quickly became lively as the person at the podium would have to answer the sometimes antagonistic questions.

And then it started happening. Insults. Rude comments. Stupid comments. The person behind the podium began to sound like … gasp … Trump!  It was glorious! I told the class that I wanted to rename the game to “How to be the Donald!”

Now all of our stupid comments and rude posturing was all in good fun. No one got hurt. No one cried, and we had a blast playing the game. But I couldn’t help but think that something happens to one’s brain as you stand behind the podium. People become aggressive, illogical, and somewhat stupid-sounding.

It’s the podium! Podium syndrome. Why even the POTUS had a podium moment the other day when he said, “we defeat ISIS, in part, when we tell them that they are weak.”  Really? That’s all we need to do?

It happens to the best of us. Podium-itis.

So don’t be too hard on Trump. It’s that wooden piece of furniture in front of him. Perhaps we should build a wall around it.

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