Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pretty but ... ohmygod

"The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory." - Paul Fix

That's a good quote to start this one off with.

This video is just burning up over at I heard about this story this morning as I was getting ready for work. Honestly, I know I'm a few days behind the curve, but it's depressingly hilarious. All I have to say is thank goodness for George Hotz. We need stories like that to, at least, try to balance stories like this out.

Here is Miss South Carolina, 18 year old Lauren Upton, a contestant in this year's Miss Teen USA pageant, trying in vain to answer this: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?

Before people rush on here saying that I'm calling her stupid, I'm not. I don't know the girl. Also, yes, people make mistakes and crack under pressure. However, whether it be merely nerves, bad public speaking skills or that she's a complete dimwit, she's the current poster child for the Dumb American.

I have to give a high-five to the US education system and that No Child Left Behind program for holding things down while I've been overseas.

I haven't laughed so loud in a long time. Too bad the laughter was at someone else's expense and tinged with some heartache.

Seriously, the educated elite (yes, the US has one even if it's not completely evident these days) is the exception, but most Americans really need to simply know more. I say this anecdotally. Sometimes just conversations I have with folks back home hurt because it's so painful what they don't know. The thing is I'm not talking about obscure, specialist topics and information. I'm talking about just everyday info, like the dismal state of education in the US. However, if this were actually common knowledge in the US then the system probably wouldn't be so dismal.

I'm not claiming by any stretch to be a walking encyclopedia, but I could have answered that question. In a contest that is supposed to judge not only beauty and charm but also poise, she should have been able to put together a coherent answer. In fact, this is one that really doesn't require facts. It's her opinion and she couldn't even articulate that. I know they teach this in just about all public speaking or interview classes: take a moment, collect your thoughts and THEN speak. Also, if the question isn't clear ask that it's repeated. Hint: this also buys you more time even if you did understand the question.

However, honestly, this flub will probably earn her more in endorsements than the winner. Not bad for coming in fourth place.

More links: Miss Teen S. C. makes her mark with flub
Guardian Unlimited: Now, where is America anyway?
New York Daily News: Beauty queen: 'Americans ... don't have maps' and Beauty maps out better day
National Post: Yoni Goldstein translates for Miss Teen South Carolina
Toronto Star ( Miss Teen USA hopeful a superstar after flub
and in her defense, one from home - The IslandPacket: Give her a break! A few kind words for Miss Teen South Carolina

Sphere: Related Content


  1. I don't think she's really stupid either, but I guess she has been overly trained to represent the so-called pure, chaste, svuelte and (roll those eyes) articulate nubile females that are desired by us men. Expressions of independent thoughts and actions are verboten so she was trained to give one of those generic feel-good answers that could encompass almost any question delivered.

    The problem was that the question was a little to specific and, although she tried her best, she couldn't quite apply the plight of those poor kids of South Africa and Eye-Rack to the fact that our own little idiots can't find America on the map.

  2. You're right. She's probably been coached to oblivion and couldn't disconnect from the canned answer script to think on her feet. That says at to me about the pageant system where canned fakery is more valuable than girls who can really think on the fly and hold their own.

    Good I don't follow these things.

    I won't even touch the "can't find America on a map" problem. That's heartbreaking too.

  3. Slater looks like he's about to bust a gut in that video.

    I'll tell you this. I've said morer stupider things in public forums.

    What gets me is that the Miss Teen USA pageant as a SWIMSUIT COMPETITION!!

    What is this? Japan?

  4. Slater?!!! That's Mario Lopez. Actually, me and a friend tripped over him and Miss Whoever-The-Hell at a club in Las Vegas a few years ago. I was home for vacation and drove to Vegas from L.A. to party with a friend. Of course, as luck would have it I reverted to my well hidden reclusiveness and she had to drag me out that night, but I had fun.

    Yes, a swimsuit competition in a contest run by the Trump organization. Isn't that a surprise?

    Nothing but the finest in objectification and explotation for these teens. Then everyone involved will have a royal crap when some scandal breaks out.

  5. There was something more worrisome there.

    Not only could she not articulate herself, she truly wasn't able to comprehend the question.

    Furthermore, she jumped at the chance to rush into an answer without thinking.

    She might not be stupid, but I'm not so sure she's been challenged to think.

    Now, you want a real teen answer it might be like this:

    "Yo, dude. It's because we're stupid okay?"

    "Duh. It's because we don't study GEOMETRY."

    "Yeah, right. Okay. So, let me see. Oh, I don't know!"

    Any of these would have been far more excusable than her answer which veered off the planet.

  6. It's sad. I am a US public school teacher, and my school is academically ranked above every single private school in our state. We rock. I had a 16,000/year private, international school education; but I can seriously say that the students at the school where I currently work are receiving a better education than I did. Of course, we are also located in an affluent and highly educated community. Clearly there are huge gaps, but considering the caliber of the kids I teach everyday, it's hard to imagine that there are schools not far away that are allowing their students to graduate with such limited skills.

  7. "I won't even touch the "can't find America on a map" problem. That's heartbreaking too."

    That problem is pretty bad. It irritates people the wrong way too when American go oversees. My professor once told me that the American habit of isolationism is partly to blame. Maybe, but it is really embarrassing sometimes that a Vietnamese immigrant knows more about America than an native does.

  8. "Not only could she not articulate herself, she truly wasn't able to comprehend the question.

    Furthermore, she jumped at the chance to rush into an answer without thinking.

    She might not be stupid, but I'm not so sure she's been challenged to think."

    I totally agree with you Kanani. I think it's like ItAintEazy said: she'd been coached and it makes sense that the question completely surprised her and she was simply unable to think on her feet because no one thought to actually teach her how to.

    It's really said that she came in forth. So those fifth or below were worse? Probably not.

    Preya - good to read you (since I've literally never seen you.) If you're teaching children of the elite in a high income area, there is just no comparison.

    That's why my mom jumped at the chance to have me sent across town. She knew I'd get a better education and she was right.

    Keep up the good work. Too bad it doesn't "trickle down" to the other areas of town. :(


    You're completely right. The requirements to become a US citizen probably exceeds the information that most US citizens know. That's a shame.

    I understand our history of isolationalism. It was for good reasons. However, in an age of globalization even if we still have isolationist tendencies we have to get a better grasp of the world or the world will leave us behind.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.