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On The Serene Branson Grammy-Reporter Meme.

February 19, 2011

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Besides the viral-friendly creation of new, nonsense words (“heavy bertation” is now being used to describe everything on the internet) that lend themselves to staccato, Auto-tuned YouTube remixes a la “Bed Intruder,” the fascination with the Serene Branson newscast clip may also be attributed to the unique nature of her flub. Unlike most on-air gaffs, hers doesn’t appear to be caused by intoxication or a simple case of nervous anxiety, and she isn’t belligerent or overly self-conscious. Nothing flies at her from off camera and there are no wardrobe malfunctions. So, this phenomenon doesn’t really cater to Shadenfreude the way other flubs do.

Not correcting herself or laughing or crying or acknowledging the absurdity of what she is saying, she just keeps going & going as if expecting that actual words will eventually show themselves if she keeps putting in the effort – and we watch it over & over half-expecting the same thing. It’s as though she’s taken the Freudian slip several steps further and opened her primal subconscious wide. The spectacle immediately invokes the kind of exotic and uncanny tropes that particularly suit broad speculation: Demon-possession, mediums, malfunctioning robots, and the Reality-Horror of Paranormal Activity. Like a real life Stepford Wife, her prescribed intonation continues on autopilot, seeming not to recognize that it’s content is meaningless.

Some major factors in the clip’s viral endurance:

  • What kind of explanation is there? Not easily categorized: Drunk, Scared, Stupid – none fit.
  • There is some lesson about the workings of the human brain here, but no one knows what (convincingly). So, it bares multiple viewings.
  • It still has not been explained to anyone’s satisfaction. Here’s the latest: “A complex migraine”.
  • Nonsense words are funny.
  • Local newscaster gaffs almost always go viral.
  • Confusion / association with The Grammys and the term “speech”. As though she were accepting an award, it’s sometimes being referred to as “Serene Branson’s Grammy speech” – even in reputable publications: Business Insider: “Video of her incoherent Grammys speech has been removed by CBS, and is no longer available.”
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