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.