Friday, September 5, 2008

Such as...

Making fun of dumb Americans is like shooting fish in a barrel these days, thanks to YouTube. God help you if you have an off moment and say or do the wrong thing. Interesting to speculate what this is going to do for people in the public sector. It could tighten things up, force people to look before they leap. It could also extend cynicism as one by one we get so used to everybody being a jerk that we simply lower our expectations even more.

Smart and dumb is just one way to divide us up into two opposing camps these days. There’s red and blue, Nietzschean (Republican) and Christian (the real, “Least of these my brethren” kind, not the TV kind, I mean).

You could go on and on. There are Americans who can pay over $1000 out of pocket for a crown as I just did (I’ve got full health care coverage, just not dental insurance) and those who have to let their teeth fall out, those who hope gays will zip it up on gay civil rights till after the election, and those who think silence is murder, those who believe libraries should make their own selections, and those, like Sarah Palin, who want to deselect other people's reading here and there. All sorts of ways of dividing us into the black-and-white opposites.

Here’s one for you. How about those who think it’s great to get teenagers to parade their tits and asses in beauty pageants and those who think that's no way to raise a kid.

A friend sent me this YouTube link of the 2007 Miss Teen Pageant. If you’ve been around on YouTube this may be old news.

At moments like these I wish I were still teaching my ethics seminar. I’d be asking them whether it is unethical of me to participate in the ridicule of this young girl, or whether she is fair game for participating in a contest in which being tested on articulateness is part of the judgment (My guess is my students, more at home with the internet than I am by far, would vote for “fair game.”)

Obviously, there are lots of folk yucking it up out there. It didn't take long to track down a whole bunch of spin-off YouTube pieces. A number of folk got there before me.

Pretty soon I began to feel bad for this poor girl’s parents. After that, it didn’t take long before I was feeling bad for this poor girl’s countrymen, many of whom would not have done any better at explaining why so many Americans can’t spot the U.S.A. on a world map.

Don’t know how much time you want to spend on this, but I’d be interested in hearing where your reflections take you.

Here’s a partial list of YouTube references (really, only a part!):

Miss Teen South Carolina’s ability to answer a thought-provoking question

The animated version

The South Park version

The Jimmy Kimmel analysis
(you might want to skip to minute 1 and 48 seconds.)

A serious look at what we are doing to our teenagers

A Miss South Carolina in training

What went on in her head

Miss Teen USA parody

Miss SC ites iples and bininas

Such as...

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