Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Don't drink the Kool-Aid"

I got a question from somebody in Houston about what is meant by "don't drink the Kool-Aid." This expression has become part of our regular speak now, so I thought I'd help such wayward folks along.

It origins are from a horrible, whacked-out religious mission that committed suicide in 1978 by drinking poisoned grape Kool-Aid, something that was premeditated by an odd fellow and wacko kook named Jim Jones when in a country called Guyana. But after a few decades, it took on a very different meaning.

This is not exactly correct from what I can tell, since The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was published in 1968 by a guy named Thomas Wolfe. If you drank that stuff ou were high for about half a day or more, would listen to the Grateful Dead all the time, and would contemplate your navel a real lot. It meant stoned-to-the-bone.

In modern times, people who were around President Bush #43 were said to have "drank the Kool-Aid" when doing the crazy things they did. At some point, Enron executives were known to have taken long drinks of the stuff. More recently, when handing out bennies to General Motors and Chrysler, or fixing the banking system, some pundits accused President Obama of "drinking the Kool-Aid." What on Earth did they mean?

Basically the term means to agree to some powerful status quo instead of thinking for yourself, and blindly following the leaders and making horrendous mistakes. I'm talking big mistakes, like the financial "experts" who got us in the worst recession since the Great Depression: they drank the Kool-Aid. The term doesn't mean that you're impaired, stoned, or dead anymore (funny sentence!). It merely means that you have no judgment and you messed up by trusting the authorities.


Anonymous said...

I think you were closer to being right with the Electric Kool-Aid Acid test. Bill O'Reilly uses the term often. He is not talking about someone who agrees to a powerful status quo. It does usually mean (at least on his show) someone who is not a deep thinker. Probably someone who is easily swayed by someone they look up to. For example if someone quoted either the President or a member of Congress as being right on a subject yet clearly that individual had no idea what the topic was even about, then that person is a kool-aid drinker. That's more or less how it is used on the show and that is how I would use it. You are indeed implying that anybody who would make a foolish or lightly regarded statement, that person can't be that stupid naturally, they must be high on Electric Kool-Aid. That is how I have taken it and how I would use it.( Though I tend to not say it in normal conversation.) Of course, you could also take it to mean that someone is such a light weight mentally, they probably set around and drink Kool-Aid, a fine beverage, but one that is mostly consumed by school age children. In this case, much as the previous, the implied result is the same. You are a light weight, somewhere around grade school level, with no power to persuade peoples opinions, if you are Kool-Aid drinker.

Some drank a lot of Kool-Aid in the 70s, seemed great at the time. ( I heard, you know I wouldn't know personally of course.)Some still seem high to me. Looking back I think mom made Kool-Aid with extra sugar. I thought at the time she was just being cool but , for the cost of a 10 cent pack of kool-aid and about 15 cents of sugar you could have a big pitcher. Cheaper than pop, no caffeine, great flavors!!

Walt ( Benny's By the Bay Cafe)

Sam said...

LOL, our family was poor when we grew up, and a can of tuna fish and a pack of Kool-Aid went a long, long way! I don't know how we made it through the 60s with 6 kids. So I can't say I really like the negative connotation of the term ... we all turned out pretty smart, moderate, literate, and OK.

And either buzzed and clueless (your Bill O'Reilly meaning) or over-trusting in the gurus (I guess my point), neither is a nice thing to say about a person or a group of 'em.

Now a peanut butter sandwich, that can give me nightmares!!!!! Yikes I must have eaten a ton of those boogers and always associated it with being poor.

Good comment. -sam

Anonymous said...

In the Jonestown suicide, they actually drank Flavor Aid...a cheap knock off of Kool Aid

Sildenafil Citrate said...

that is a cool cartoon, did you draw it? I would like to know the technique you implemented on that cartoon if you did it, thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

All it means is think for yourself and make informed decisions...don't be a dumb ass and believe everything you hear or read...