Any child of the 1950s and ’60s knows about Bozo. Jason Alexander’s George Costanza was offended that the clown hired for a children’s birthday party had never heard of Bozo (Seinfeld, Season 5, Episode 20 – The Fire). Just as we call a guy a guy because of Guy Fawkes, we may refer to some guy (rarely a girl) as Bozo, or even, a bozo. The word has entered the lexicon, albeit perhaps only for pre-Millennials, to mean, silly, stupid person. A clown.
Jerry Seinfeld makes the observation that the worst part of being a clown is that people are constantly referring to you as a clown. However, a clown, as a clown, is a person who devotes their life to humiliating themselves for the enjoyment and pleasure of others. It is the ultimate self-sacrifice of ego. As a person, off the clock, they are just like you and me. It is, after all, just a job.
So why should I care about that bozo? Before Rudy Giuliani cleaned up New York City, the catchphrase was “don’t get involved.” Some guy is getting mugged. Don’t get involved. Someone fell and is seriously injured. Don’t get involved. A guy is running right past you, trying to get away from the cops. Don’t get involved.
It’s got nothing to do with you. Don’t get involved.
Well, actually, it does. It does involve you because it involves something that you are a part of: your society. According to a poll conducted by 60 Minutes in conjunction with Vanity Fair, Seinfeld was voted the best sitcom ever created. I would suggest the reason is that it highlights and satirizes the worst failings of our sectarian attitudes. In fact, the show concluded with a two-part episode where the four main cast members were incarcerated for their callous indifference. It’s got nothing to do with you, don’t get involved. Even worse, they joked as they watched the crime.
How often have you done that? Not joked, exactly, but watched something horrible take place but fail to act because of fear; fear of getting hurt or fear of repercussions. I’ll be honest. I have. And I have regretted it, particularly when I consider one or two incidents where I was the victim and selfless people came to my aid.
Why should I help that bozo? For the same reason that you should pay taxes; to contribute to and support the very society that provided you with the safety and prosperity that you see being violated. It is your responsibility to look out for all of the bozos out there. Just as you peer at the world through your centralized viewpoint, so too does everyone else and out there is someone – perhaps a multitude of someones – who think you are the bozo and why should they come to your aid? If you think it’s because you are you and you are somehow special, then you’re wrong. You are just another bozo. Just like the rest of us.
But, more than just helping out a fellow Citizen of the Planet Earth, there is another reason why you should care about that bozo. Whatever is happening to that bozo is happening to society and this was evident in New York City in the ’70s. The attitude of “don’t get involved” resulted in the a tacit approval of the crime that was taking place. By saying “don’t get involved” you may consider yourself taking a neutral stance. You are not guilty. You are not committing the crime. You are, however, aiding it by depriving the situation of your intervention.
“You’re livin’ in the past, man! You’re hung up on some clown from the sixties, man!” said the party clown (Jon Favreau) to Costanza. And maybe I’m just hung up on some show about nothing from the nineties, but no matter the time period, there’s always a reason to care about that bozo.