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Harrison Bergeron – Movie Recommendation

by Izzy Kalman (March 2003)

Chances are you never heard of this movie. I happened across it in my local Hollywood Video, which has a much larger selection than Blockbuster.

Harrison Bergeron is a unique, refreshing movie. It is based on a story by the great author, Kurt Vonnegut. The movie shows what the world may turn into if we continue on the path of making everyone equal. In this future world, technology is used for the goal of making everyone average. Above average people wear a head device that zaps them whenever they have an above- average thought. Students are encouraged to strive for “C” grades; anyone getting higher is reprimanded by the teacher.

Harrison Bergeron, the hero, is in the unfortunate position of being a genius who is impervious to the head-zapper. In this brave new world, he is a hopeless misfit.

My favorite scene is when he is dating a sweet girl who has the misfortune of being below Average in intelligence. Detecting a clever thought in his date’s conversation, he pays her a compliment, “I don’t think you’re that stupid.” She replies with a compliment of her own, “And I don’t think you’re that smart.”

While this movie may seem far-fetched, I unfortunately see too much truth in it. When I began working as a school psychologist in New York City, schools had programs for gifted students. Though the cost of running these classes was only minimally higher than running a regular classroom, they have been phased out, with no replacement. Yet tons of money are showered on Special Education students, and the lower the potential of the child, the more money spent on him. There are students who have the terrible misfortune of being little more than vegetables, but they receive intensive, expensive therapies that have little or no chance of actually providing any benefit to them. And while the nation’s – and the world’s – future depends upon the brightest of our students, we give them no extra public support.

If we end up with a mediocre society, maybe it’s because we’ve been asking for it.Related articles

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