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I’m really glad I studied and (eventually) came to understand the concept of The Masked Singer about three and a half weeks ago, or else watching Sarah Palin emerge from an ursine Bratz Doll to sing a maverick version of “Baby Got Back” would have absolutely melted what’s left of my mind.
As it is, my mind is only somewhat slumped over, like a wilting potted plant. I can still deduce that the former governor of Alaska and staunch Trump supporter is not some terrifying birthday party clown but a contestant on a singing competition in which celebrities perform in bespoke full-body carnival costumes that disguise their identities until they are eliminated from the game and ceremonially unmasked.
Upon being eliminated, Palin removed her pastel cartoon bear mask mask, put on her glasses, and sang “Baby Got Back,” with an “average American” twist. “I’m tired of magazines / saying flat butts are the thing / take your average American and ask her that / she gotta pack much back,” raps Palin, with the zealotry of a scary mom performing at her daughter’s talent show. (The original lyrics by Sir Mix-a-lot say “black man,” where Palin substituted her bleak plug for a nation in crisis.)
The effect of the performance is like bad propaganda for consuming more American television. In this deranged vision of the future we’re all stuck in quarantine while The Masked Singer remains open on our laptops, a window looking out on an American wasteland, a garish terrain of time-suck.
The second “twist” came when Palin’s performance cut to a live broadcast of our president’s remarks on the coronavirus pandemic.
Palin told host Nick Cannon that the show was overall a positive experience for her, explaining that “to not be able to see much of anything out of [the bear costume] is really nice. It takes the sharp edges off the world. Everything looks a little softer, nicer. I needed this.”
The problem is that no one else did. And now I’m never going to watch TV again.