One Disturbing Thing

During one of the presentations yesterday, we got to see this Youtube video of Kellie Pickler on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?

I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t know. I find it so upsetting. I mean, first of all, there’s a moment, shortly after Pickler looks like she would like to run off stage and go die in her dressing room, when you can see that she gets that Foxworthy is not her ally in this moment, and, whew, is she sharp and fast at him. The thing about that moment is that it’s clear Pickler isn’t dumb, right? She pretty much instantaneously gets that Foxworthy is a misogynistic fuck, right? That he’s not even using her situation to make fun of her at her own expense, but that he’s turning her into an example of how women are. That’s a lot to get in a short time. She is as quick-witted as they come.

And so, it’s not like I can comfortably watch that and feel like “Oh, Kellie Pickler, what a dumbass.” She’s clearly sharp. So, I sat there watching, thinking “How the hell does a bright woman end up not knowing that France is a country?” The presenter alluded to her very troubled home life growing up, so I was thinking, “Well, maybe she was just in and out of school a lot.” But she graduated from high school, according to Wikipedia.

Someone just fucking failed her, and failed her big, along the way.

But that’s not the part that sticks with me. The part I can’t let go of is that there were a lot of people who thought this, this moment, was a good idea. Nobody at her label said “Hey, you know, you had a shitty education. Maybe you don’t want to get up there and embarrass yourself.” or “You know, Foxworthy can be an asshole; maybe you don’t need to subject yourself to that.” Nobody said “If you can’t get to $25,000, you won’t have any money for your charity. Are you sure you can get that far?”

Instead, all along the way, folks thought this seemed like a good idea, would make for good entertainment–that watching Pickler be publicly embarrassed, that letting everyone have a good laugh about what a dumbass she is and how funny it is when she panics–and then letting Foxworthy tell her that it’s because she’s a woman–would be great television.

Oh, look at the stupid, babbling woman, who babbles and is stupid because she’s a woman.

I wanted for Pickler a “Help Me, Mary” moment, where she gets famous enough that she can burn all those fuckers down. I hope Dolly Parton teaches her that.

I don’t know. It’s one thing–and I’m sure it’s true throughout the music industry, throughout history–but I’m thinking a lot about it because I’ve been listening to people discuss country music for two days straight. It’s one thing that seems a constant: find these desperate folks, who are smart enough to realize they need something more from life than what it’s about to hand them, who have the intellectual gifts that let them connect with an audience, either through their song writing and/or their performance, and keep them compliant by constantly reminding them of how stupid they are, and exploit them because they don’t know to even be suspicious of you.

And you’d hope that it wouldn’t… I don’t know… be so blatant now.

And then there’s this.


10 thoughts on “One Disturbing Thing

  1. Wow, that’s a pretty sharp analysis, B. I would never have bothered to watch Foxworthy’s mug for any length of time had you not posted this. I agree. Pickler doesn’t apparently know much about European geography, but she knows when an asshole is trying to condescend to her. I think she handled herself extremely well under the stacked-deck circumstances, especially with her graceful behavior toward the kid.

    To anyone who’s not a reactionary, pig-dog misogynist, I’d say the real butt of the segment turns out to be Foxworthy, who doesn’t even try to be subtle or tongue-in-cheek with the anti-woman assault.

    Also, B., I think you bring up a fascinating point about Pickler and others who come from less-than-privileged backgrounds. The same could apply to rap stars and many pro athletes. They grab the brass ring with all the talent they have, they entertain us with that talent, and then they’re denigrated for not having the refinement that old money is supposed to buy (never mind that many people close to Pickler’s age who graduated from ‘good schools’ and came from ‘good homes’ probably aren’t much more well-versed in geography than she is).

  2. That was painful to watch. Even more so that she used probably the only tools at her disposal — to play along with Jeff Foxworthy’s douchebaggery and laugh at herself.

  3. Sam, I don’t even just think it’s a matter of refinement, though that’s definitely there. It’s also how poor Young Buck is in deep trouble for tax evasion when it seems obvious he genuinely believed that was being taken care of (same as Willie Nelson).

    It hardly seems like not knowing to check behind your handlers is anywhere near the same crime as deliberately hiding money from the Feds.

    And the more I think about Pickler, I do think her mistake is simple enough. If you didn’t know a lot about Europe and you’d heard a lot of talk about the European Union, would it be that hard to think that France was a state and not a country?

    Yeah, Kathy, that’s what really makes me uncomfortable about this. You can tell there’s a moment she wants to run for it, but she sucks it up and laughs along and is so graceful to that kid, all while being the butt of Foxworthy’s “joke.”

    It just grosses me out.

    But Pickler! Jesus, for someone I had basically been ignoring, this made me feel like I should give her a second listen.

  4. Embarrassing people is tacky. Most of us do a good enough job embarrassing ourselves. We don’t need help. We all should have some empathy. Most of us have been in a bad situation and humiliating someone makes you look small.

  5. Please. He asked her a simple question and she took a solid 1:10 digging herself a Miss Teen South Carolina sized hole. After a full minute of displaying her ignorance for a syndicated television show audience to see, then, and only then did Foxworthy take a couple of easy shots.

    She isn’t brave or quick. She’s an idiot and a typical one at that. The only people who fail her are the ones who soft pedal her ignorance as a failing on someone else’s part. Own that shit, Kelli. And for that matter, you too, B.

  6. I’ve discovered that when calling someone an ‘idiot’ in the U.S.A., you really are grading on a steep curve. Also, there’s a difference between ignorance and stupidity. Not knowing that France is an independent, sovereign nation, and that Europe is not a country, puts Pickler in at least the 60th percentile for global geographical knowledge in the U.S. (Among typical Fox News viewers, she’s a fucking Rhodes Scholar.) Clearly understanding that she’s in past her depth and is being made the butt of a clumsy sexist joke means that at the very least she isn’t totally at sea. Her rather dignified handling of the situation elevated her a couple notches above the bottom-feeding, manipulative fray. Whether or not any of that makes her ‘brave’ or ‘quick’ depends on the quantifiable criteria by which you prefer to measure such subjective concepts.

  7. Oh, I’m sorry I took your other comment in good faith, Sarcastro. I didn’t realize it was just my turn for grouching at.

  8. What’s never been clear to me about this much-seen clip (since I don’t watch the show) is whether she really did more or less have to, well, keep talking and taking rougher and rougher guesses–or if she had the option Sop Talking–which might have been that much smarter–if she could. Which I don’t know.
    Ignorant on this, I guess!

Comments are closed.