Run for the Hills, Here Come the Wowsers


"Wowsers" are those wonderful people who know, with unshakeable moral certitude, what's good for you. They are the righteously outraged, who cannot conceive that there is any other position than their own. They may be left wing or right, liberal or conservative, prudent or daring, but they share a common characteristic: the unfettered belief that they know what's good for you better than you do.

Many wowsers claim that talking on cell phones should be banned in automobiles because it "obviously" distracts drivers and causes accidents. While there is no empirical evidence to suggest that cell phone use is any more distracting than attempting to tune the radio, eat a sandwich, drink coffee, or even talk to a passenger, the cell phone must be banned--drive-through fast food outlets, cup holders, tiny CD changer buttons, and yakking family members notwithstanding.

Other wowsers are busy trying to ban a beer commercial which features women tearing each other's clothing off during a fight sequence. The facts that the women happily participated in the production, the ad is clearly satirical, and that the country sells everything from cars and ovens to long distance phone service and retirement funds by draping scantily-clad women over the proceedings, does not seem to compute with the wowsers. Our society uses sex to sell, and we ought to have more of a sense of humor about it (or, wowserism being humorless, simply turn off the television). But no, we need to stop everyone from watching because wowserism doesn't allow for dissenting opinion.

Wowsers will evoke any kind of justification, stoke any kind of emotion, to try to make their point (since they usually don't have a point other than narcissistic self-righteousness). An assistant professor somewhere (it's always an assistant professor, someone sufficiently removed from pragmatic reality and equally distant from the talent that would grant full tenure) protested that the "Joe Boxer" commercial, in which a black man dances in his briefs, is actually a racist comment. The facts that the dance was the actor's own idea, is not planned, and is well-performed, do not daunt the assistant professor. Some wowsers insist that every single act and behavior must first pass through their own personal litmus test of racism (or gender, or whatever).

The legitimacy of the cause is never a defense of wowserism. The fanatic efforts on the part of some wowsers to lower the blood alcohol levels which legally constitute drunk driving fly in the face of the facts that those most responsible for DWI deaths are those who are habitual offenders, undeterred by the laws, and usually drive even with prior convictions, suspended licenses, canceled insurance, and so on. Stopping everyone who has two glasses of wine with dinner will not lower highway deaths one iota, but it will please the wowsers who insist that only zero tolerance can satisfy their worthy cause.

The celebrities and well-known are amongst the worst of all wowsers. Barbra Streisand continues to insist that she is more than an uneducated, merely fortunately-talented woman by writing error-laden and ungrammatical letters about any number of governmental policies and initiatives. Her banal ramblings of course attract the media. The current wowser hot button among the vacuously famous is the SUV and its guzzling ways, yet no mention is made of trendy pick-up trucks, nor the ubiquitous huge limos which transport the glitterati, nor the fuel-guzzling exotic sports cars which amuse them. (Nor does anyone seem to acknowledge the fact that known oil reserves are larger today than decades ago.) Wowsers lead the league in hypocrisy. (I remember when über-environmentalist John Denver faced scandal when it was discovered he had built and filled huge, hidden gasoline storage facilities on his property. It's easy for a man who's warm to scream that others should get comfortable with the cold.) I've had it with the wowsers, from the people who don't want anyone to wear a scent within nine miles of them, to those who believe that handicapped access must extend to brain surgery and stripper bars, to those who insist males should be employed at Hooters.

Enough. Join the ranks of the anti-wowsers. The movement is growing.

It's called common sense.

Alan is the author of 21 books and over 500 articles. He is a regular contributor.   You can contact him at