No doubt all of you have heard or read by now the disjointed remarks made by 18-year-old Miss Teen USA contestant, Caitlin Upton, representing South Carolina, responding to the question "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"
If you hadn't seen it, it can be watched here: Miss Teen USA excerpt...and if you can't stop laughing or crying long enough to hear without replaying it 17 times, you can read it here in all its "glory": "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, um, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future."
Now, I don't know about you, but if that alone doesn't further emphasize and substantiate the claim that the average U.S. student can't point out China on a map, I don't know what does.
I don't purport to know where the Lesser Antilles or Myanmar (yes, read my blog below to "get" this one) are...but I darned well could point out where Argentina, China, Tasmania, or Norway is on a map...or get plenty of other countries at least "in the general vacinity"...not a haphazard "Pin the Tail on the Donkey, spin me 'round and maybe I'll get it right" kind of blindfoldedness about it all. I probably wouldn't stake my whole wad of cash on a 'Final Jeopardy!" answer on Geography...but I'd wager at least $500.
Where is all this getting to? Is there a point to all this silly banter? Yes. I have, as Archimedes reportedly exclaimed, had a "Eureka" moment the other day where it all became abundantly clear to me "why" we are a nation of geographically challenged inhabitants.
"We" don't typically listen to BBC News.
That's it in a nutshell.
Lately, I've been stricken with another affliction besides insomnia: Watching BBC America's "Cash In the Attic" at 4:00 a.m. Sure, it's not first run programming, but I haven't ever seen any of the episodes, so it's all new to me. And what else is new to me is watching the BBC News which follows at 5:00 a.m.
In one short week, I've found out things I wouldn't ever know otherwise...from Moscow's serial killer, Alexander Pichushkin, to Belgian's winning lawsuit against Microsoft to who the Australian Prime Minister is - John Howard, by the way. Yes, to even the mundane fact that Australia HAS a Prime Minister. Heck, I've been walking around for the past 46 years never knowing what the head of state was called in Australia...for all I cared they could have had the title "Grand Poohbah" bestowed upon him as, in all my years of watching American news, I don't think they've ever mentioned him. They would have if Paris Hilton partied with him...I knew all about Prince Albert of Monaco and the fact he dated supermodel, German-born Claudia Schiffer, a few years ago. Oh, that is "must know" information...but where Monaco IS? "Oh, who cares...didn't that old dead guy, Humphrey Bogart do a movie about that place way back when...'Casablanca' was it?"
And this is why people here in the United States, and school-aged children especially, should be strapped to chairs and their orbits forcibly pried open à la Alex DeLarge in Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" - only being made to watch further eye-opening, globe-trotting, mind-expanding broadcasting such as BBC News.
Our news channels should worry less about which ratings place Katie Couric is in, which set looks better, or if reporters should sit or stand while reading the teleprompter...and focus on what is truly important. The citizens of America shouldn't solely get their knowledge of where foreign countries are based entirely upon what countries Madonna's, Angelina's, and Mary-Louise Parker's babies were adopted from.
We, as a nation, deserve more...and we should demand nothing less.
A Bit About Me
- Mariann Simms
- Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".