I didn't have the highest hopes when I heard about this video clip in which "Miss Teen USA contestant gives bizarre answer to geography question." I thought, oh, teen beauty queens are dumb and shallow, yawn, what else is new. But I am so glad I watched, because this exceeded all my expectations. It's difficult for any description to do it justice, but the closest I can come is that, in this moment, Miss South Carolina resembles a robot, programmed to respond to beauty-pageant questions, suffering a major system meltdown. Instead of stringing its stored stock phrases ("I personally believe... South Africa... Iraq... education") into a vacuous but generally coherent response, it's just spitting them out at random, and no one can make it stop. Here are a few things I love best about these 47 seconds of footage:
- She seems to be off to a terrible start with "Some people out there in our nation don't have maps..." but by the end you realize that was actually the best part of her response. After that: total incoherence. And it gets so much worse than you think it will.
- "U.S. Americans."
- "...everywhere like such as and." It's the way she adds "such as" to that string that really does it for me. I didn't think it was possible for a native speaker of English not to understand how "such as" functions in speech, but I was mistaken.
- "Our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. -- er, should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries." I love that she corrects herself when she "misspeaks" -- because, whew, for a minute there she wasn't making much sense! (In fact, she was actually much closer to answering the question before she corrected herself.)
- When the bell rings to signal that her time is up and she starts talking fast, as if to wrap up her answer -- even though there's nothing for her to wrap up. She knows she's not supposed to stop talking until she mentions Our Future, and by heaven, she gets it done.
- Mario Lopez's steady, supportive microphone throughout, and stunned yet gentlemanly "...Thank you very much" at the very end. I once saw an episode of Pet Star where a woman claimed her cat could do this elaborate trick, and of course, as soon as she brought it onstage, the cat balked and ran back into the wings, leaving humiliation in its wake... and Mario reacted in much the same way, as if everything had gone exactly according to plan and nobody had any cause to be ashamed. If I ever embarrass myself on national TV, I want Mario Lopez there to pretend everything went fine. He couldn't save me from YouTube, but he would make me feel better in the moment.
And with that, I am off to Boston for a couple of days! I hope you enjoy your holiday weekend. If you choose to spend it watching the above video over and over, I won't judge. You might want to take a break to spend some time with Strong Bad, though. He could use the company.