Introducing “The Higgy”

William Higginbotham

As someone who was recognized in 2006 as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, I know a lot about the importance of awards highlighting people of significant accomplishment.  Here on JPGB we have the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award, but I’ve noticed that “The Al” only recognizes people of positive accomplishment.  As Time Magazine has understood in naming Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Ayatullah Khomeini as Persons of the Year, accomplishments can be negative as well as positive.

(Then again, Time has also recognized some amazing individuals as Person of the Year, including Endangered Earth, The Computer, Twenty-Five and Under, and The Peacemakers, so I’m not sure we should be paying so much attention to what a soon-to-be-defunct magazine does.  But that’s a topic for another day when we want to talk about how schools are more likely to be named after manatees than George Washington.)

Where were we?  Oh yes.  It is important to recognize negative as well as positive accomplishment.  So I introduce “The Higgy,” an award named after William Higinbotham, as the mirror award to our well-established “Al.”

Just as Al Copeland was not without serious flaws as a person, William Higinbotham was not without his virtues.  Higinbotham did, after all  develop the first video game.  But Higinbotham dismissed the importance of that accomplishment and instead chose to be an arrogant prick by claiming that his true accomplishment was in helping found the Federation of American Scientists and working for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.  I highly doubt that the Federation or Higinbotham did a single thing that actually advanced nonproliferation, but they sure were smug about it.  Here, I think, is a video of one of their meetings:

I suspect that Al Copeland, by contrast, understood that he was a royal jerk.  And he also understood that developing a chain of spicy chicken restaurants really does improve the human condition.  Higinbotham’s failing was in mistaking self-righteous proclamations for actually making people’s lives better in a way that video games really do improve the human condition.

So, “The Higgy” will not identify the worst person in the world, just as “The Al” does not recognize the best.  Instead, “The Higgy” will highlight individuals whose arrogant delusions of shaping the world to meet their own will outweigh the positive qualities they possess.

We will invite nominations for “The Higgy” in late March and will announce the winner, appropriately enough, on April 15.  Thanks to Greg for his suggestions in developing “The Higgy.”

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10 Responses to Introducing “The Higgy”

  1. Briana LeClaire says:

    Jay! Gross! Your wonderful video brought the ten-year-old boy running in from the other room. Now I have to hide better to read your blog- that ain’t right.

  2. Sorry about that Briana. It is gross but it just seemed to fit too well not to use it.

  3. Greg Forster says:

    On what basis do you assert that Al Copeland was a “royal jerk”?

  4. Well, there was the Christmas light display litigation with his neighbors, the divorces, the outlandish racing boats, etc…

    • Greg Forster says:

      The Christmas lights and the boats don’t strike me as relevant. Isn’t that caving in to the other side if we say he was a jerk for enjoying his wealth in harmless ways? (Jay Greene for The Higgy!) The divorces would be relevant if we knew 1) they were his fault, and 2) the reason is that he was a royal jerk. Do we know this?

      • Let me revise my answer — We are all royal jerks (for reasons that I think you understand and agree with). Some of us understand our flawed nature and still manage to accomplish something transcendent. Others delude themselves about their flaws, imagine themselves perfect, perfectible, or flawed only because of the flaws in others. Those people can never be worthy of “The Al.”

  5. Daniel Earley says:

    Brilliant! Even capped off by a nostalgic proxy symbol of the self-important tweed jacket — the avant-garde ACE bandage necktie of yesteryear.

  6. You will have to compete with the “Darwin Award”. It prizes this threat-to-myself sort of people.

  7. Jason says:

    “’The Higgy’ will highlight individuals whose arrogant delusions of shaping the world to meet their own will outweigh the positive qualities they possess.”

    Shouldn’t this be called “The Ravitch”?

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