"If George Clooney called a globally televised press conference, then plucked out two of his eyelashes and announced he would donate them free of charge to the first viewer to turn round and murder their entire family, thousands would perish. Read that again. It is a fact."
I don't actually think people are getting more stupid. The past contains the Children's Crusade, massed apocalypse cults and eunuchs all of which I think are probably almost as idiotic as Heat.
The change that has come with rising incomes is a rapid decline in the extent to which working class imaginations spend most of their time and energy focussed upon bread and butter issues which require a certain common sense. Rising leisure time and jobs which are not as physically exhausting free the common man to indulge his inner idiot. Instead of moments of idiocy being a vocation for minorities like eunuchs or parents indulging their children's crusading fervour they can be undertaken by all in their spare time.
Also, I think feminism, socialism and the other liberation movements have induced something of an internal relativism which means that only at the extremes of reality TV can we call someone as stupid as a spade as stupid as a spade. Jordan isn't a smart enterpriser; she's ironically somewhat similar to a eunuch in that she has mutilated herself for pecuniary gain. Little Britain isn't clever and witty; it's an unimaginative caricature of Python. The Harry Potter series are children's books and adults reading them are lazy. Elitism is the instinct that allows us to make these simple but important judgements and the gratuitously anti-elitist movements of the twentieth century are responsible for making us guilty about expressing them.