H/T for the header image to this article which supplied the last piece to this puzzle in my head, and H/T to the American Sun for suggesting that article. Compare this image to https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/many-armed-trope-is-a-denisovan-identifier-in-fiction/
Tbh what follows is pretty elementary stuff for this audience. The prerequisite idea is that melonheads are smart theater kids.
Creating cohesive societies larger than the Dunbar number is not something the average Joe can do. They are characterized by crowd behavior, which is why political theorists often become interested in books like Crowds and Power that analyze crowd psychology. Crowds are not cohesive by nature, and if you disagree you can prove it by convincing a Superbowl crowd to charge toward a machine gun emplacement rather than away from it. (Surely fewer people would be killed if they worked together, right?) However, there have been cohesive mass societies throughout the history of civilization where men have told complete strangers to charge toward a machine gun emplacement and the strangers did it gladly. Large, cohesive societies will always outcompete and replace smaller societies and incoherent societies. How does this happen?
The purpose of melonheads is to train mass superorganism psychology the way Cesar Millan trains an individual dog. Masses respond primarily to spectacles, which can be chained together as narrative arcs (comparable to chemical reaction formulas) to communicate very simple ideas to the superorganism. This has the direct effect of training the individuals in what to expect whether they agree with it or not (Floyd-style news stories in early summer -> black riots) and the indirect effect of producing a common ground understanding where everyone knows what everyone else in the crowd is expecting. This “common sense” is what produces coherent crowd behavior, because when everybody knows what the crowd is about to do it changes what the individual is about to do. In the example of the machine gun, imagine a society where all the schools, movies, and corporate trainings were about how we beat terrorists by swarming them as a group, where the people who die are heroes whose wife and kids get a million dollars each and the people who run in the other direction have their hearts cut out on top of pyramids. Even a completely introverted wallflower or completely individualistic sociopath in that society is going to at least feign a hamstring injury as he limps slowly toward the machine gun. But as a rule both will be selected out along with anyone else who won’t engage with the crowd sentiment-as-superorganism.
The purpose of theater is to produce spectacles, therefore theater kids need to have a taste for the dramatic. Rational mastermind types can’t into theater because they lack fluency in feeling and expressing the strong emotions which comprise the theatrical language and syntax. It takes a lot of practice channeling Jungian archetypes and familiarity with a surprising amount of technical trivia: if you’re arranging stage lights you need to be able to feel which exact mix of blue and red spotlights conveys the intended mood and also be aware that the blue lights need to be at a higher wattage to have the same brightness. To compete in the attention economy you have to be the most engaging, which means the emotionality tends to extremism.
But why would melonheads want to be smart? Mostly it’s because you need to train the dog in the appropriate dogma, and to do that you need to know what the correct dogma is. Japanese filmmakers can’t make up their minds about whether Godzilla is a good guy, a bad guy, or chaotic neutral because Japanese policymakers can’t decide whether nuclear power is a good idea or not. If you think that’s an easy question, then I have a uranium mine to sell you just outside of Kiev. Because group coherence is so important, the groups with the smartest melonheads will tend to win in the battle of group selection. But the other reason melonheads want to be smart is because they all eventually want to direct, and all the big film studios (big population groups) are taken. That means anyone who wants to direct has to start an indie operation (small population group), and if you’re going to compete with the big studios as a startup you’re going to need to be very smart about it.
Related links that I was thinking about as I put this together: