Thanks, Utah, for the fodder

Jun 22 2013 - 10:47pm


It's so much fun when Utah makes the national news.

Time was, I would cringe when a national news story popped up about our liquor laws, a Southern Utah town passing ordinances hostile to the United Nations or requiring gun ownership, the latest polygamist scandal -- a double-cringe-worthy subject for Mormons like me -- and the list goes on.

But at some point, I stopped being embarrassed and sad. Now I find myself embracing the shimmering eccentricities that help to define the Beehive State in the national mind.

I mention this because recent history has been especially entertaining in the Utah-is-news business.

* There was a samurai-sword-wielding Mormon bishop who defended a female neighbor from a villain who tried to force his way into her home.

* Pranksters hacked into electronic road signs that subsequently alerted Utah County motorists, "ZOMBIE INFESTED SCHOOL" and "ZOMBIE ATTACK PREPARE!"

* Then there was the Salt Lake City couple who bought doughnuts at a grocery store, inserted razor blades into the pastries and ate them in an attempt to coerce a settlement out of the retailer.

Which brings us to last week's ain't-Utah-hilarious moment on the national stage: The televised Miss USA pageant with Miss Utah managing to appear even sillier than the TV show happening around her.

To recap: Miss Utah Marissa Powell was asked the following question: "A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?"

This was Powell's response: "I think we can re ... 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 in ... I think, especially the men, are, um ... seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to try to figure out how to ... create education better so that we can solve this problem."

Say what you will about her answer and specifically the "create education better" phrase -- plenty of people did; everyone from Internet trolls to semi-serious pundits grabbed up their broom handles to smack Utah's latest pinata -- Powell was attempting to make sense of a question that was itself a feat of stupefying ridiculousness. Was it asking what social significance there is in women being the primary earners? Or that they are paid less than men? Or why Americans abide such inequality?

But all that post-pageant analysis/reportage/brutality was too late to diminish Miss Utah's bewildering reply. Her answer will ricochet around the InterWebs forever. And that reflected "glory" is all Utah's to own.

So, funny as this is -- and it IS hilarious, you must admit -- what appears to have been lost amid the guffaws over Powell's verbal face-plant is that the person who asked the question was a cast member of a reality-TV show called "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."

Granted, I've never seen the show, but understand it to be the intellectual equivalent of, say, "The Glenn Beck Program," which has been scientifically shown to reduce the size of viewers' brains.

Speaking of paranoid delusionists, the Miss USA pageant is owned by Donald Trump, who has long been America's Most Boorish Billionaire. At some point, you would think, the raging, unapologetic kitsch of the whole thing should inoculate the pageant from any mockery whatsoever. Mocking the show, then, is mockery squared.

All that said, I'm genuinely thankful for Utahns' bizarro tendencies. Without them, what would columnists have to write about?

Therefore, my new motto: All hail the beehive.

Email Don Porter at

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