Everyone is having a lot of fun at Miss Utah's expense today. The Miss USA pageant aired last night. Not to be confused with the NBA Finals, which looks more and more like a beauty pageant considering those wusses can't even be lightly nudged with a small feather without flailing their arms around and flopping to the floor as they scream and writhe in pain. But that's a subject for another day.
On the other Miss USA pageant, the question and answer portion apparently delivered, predictably, a memorable moment. The chick from Utah was asked, I think, about the "gender wage gap" (which doesn't exist, but I certainly didn't expect a beauty queen to point that out). Well, she didn't do any favors to her gender, or her species for that matter, with this answer: “I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are continuing to try to strive … to …Figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem right now. I think, especially the men are … um … seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to see how to … create education better. So that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”
"Create education better." Words that shall live in infamy. But my point here is not to lambaste this poor girl. That's too easy. Besides, she's a beautiful woman which means her life is hard enough as it is. Instead, I'd like to offer some perspective.
Most of the people who ridicule these women for their usually vacuous and indecipherable answers would, themselves, also choke if asked to answer an essay question into a microphone. It is NOT an easy thing to do, and only someone who has never done it would be stupid enough to call it easy. I speak into a microphone for a living. Three hours a day. Every day. No script. Delivering unscripted 12 to 15 minute monologues a couple of times an hour. It's one of those things everyone thinks they can do but most fail miserably when they attempt. So when I hear every Tom, Dick and Harry cackle like hyenas when someone embarrasses themselves while speaking publicly, I can't help but roll my eyes. People tell me all the time: "All you do is talk for a living, it must be so fun and easy! I love talking! I could talk for hours!" Right. Try it for five minutes. Just five. No prompter or text to read. Just talk into a mic to a live audience for five minutes. Scratch that. Try it for 90 seconds. I'll give you an ethical question or current controversy to tackle, and you pontificate about it off the cuff for less than two minutes. Chances are, you'll come off as a bigger ditz than Miss Utah on her worse day. I've seen it happen a hundred times. I used to have a little unhealthy fun when someone would email me and tell me how great they'd be on the radio. Sometimes I'd write them back. "Well why don't you come into the studio and sit in on a show. You can try out your natural public speaking skills!" They'd jump at the chance because, obviously, they're awesome at everything so clearly they'll slaughter this thing. Then they're sitting behind the mic, we go live, and I'd give them a softball toss: "Hey, why don't you tell us your perspective on this [insert current event or news story]?" They respond, "Well uh, yeah uh that's a crazy story. Uh I think I'm against it because, like, it seems wrong. Um so yeah. So... Yeah. So yeah that's my opinion I guess." Expertly executed. A moment of true wit and insight. Just I expected.
I think it stems from the rampant egomania in our society that everyone thinks they can just stroll into a room and flawlessly do something that requires years of practice and a very specific skill set. Stop it. It's annoying. Miss Utah performed horribly but, chances are, you wouldn't do any better. There are a million things I can't do and I generally try not to mock people who do them poorly, because I know they're still doing it a thousand times better than I could. Maybe we should all try on a little humility.