Sympathy for the Dumb

I’m trying to go to bed but I can’t help rewatching this video of a “Miss Teen USA” contestant trying to answer a question. The fact that it’s a softball question is practically beside the point, though it enriches the humor. The first half of the answer is funny enough just because of the look on her face of either (a) thinking extra hard, or (b) total vacuity (I’m not sure which), but despite how dumb her answer is, at least it’s a grammatically decipherable sentence.

After about second 23 though, she seems to forget what the question is but think she’s on a roll and must add a few de rigeur platitudes before her time runs out. The subsequent series of free association is so funny, yet so pure as an immediate verbalisation of every phrase that pops into her head like a Mad Libs of Miss America phrases, repeatedly aborted mid-statement by uncertainty.

Although she’s admittedly an empty head (an observation so obvious it’s almost gratuitous to state explicity, like saying a mentally handicapped person is, admittedly, retarded) she must have been distracted by something to so completely lose her train of thought. The panic on her face, as if in realisation that she’s out of her depth in a bird bath, makes me unexpectedly sympathise with her.

But ultimately her answer is the purest expression of Beauty Pageant discourse, and revelatory of the thought process behind any such answer. It is a rare moment of truth that deconstructs the soundbite to its basic nature: a series of sub-bite particles that, when strung together, usually come out sounding like a sentence. Ideally a sentence that sounds compassionate and optimistic rather than patronising and naive.

But unfortunately for Miss South Carolina, a few synapses misfired in her freak brainstorm so this time the sub-bite particles didn’t come out sounding like a sentence. It was just bad luck for her because, honestly, it could have happened to any one of her rivals.

2 thoughts on “Sympathy for the Dumb

  1. PRT says:

    Not only could it have happened to any one of her rivals, it’s the sort of thing that could have happened to just about anyone, though usually not on national television. I dread that it will happen to me–during my dissertation defense.

    But from here on out, we’ll just have to call it a South Carolina moment.

  2. coffee says:

    Miss Teen South Carolina answered that question badly, but she’s still got her looks to fall back on…

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