On Monday, she denied allegations that medical problems or impairing substances were responsible for her on-air out-of-body experience. But while countless theories abound, doctors at San Narciso College’s School of Medicine believe a connection exists between Branson’s aphasia and Caitlin Upton’s similarly bizarre answer to a geography question during the 2007 Miss South Carolina Teen pageant, which generated the same Internet fervor. They cite a rare derivation of petit mal seizure specific to the entertainment industry, known as “Brady Syndrome.”
Caitlin Upton’s 2007 Incident
Toward the end of the 2007 Miss South Carolina Teen pageant, Caitlin Upton became an overnight YouTube sensation after butchering the answer to a straightforward question about U.S. geography. The question asked was: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?”
Upton responded, “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.”
The flub, according to judges, cost her any prospect of the title, landing her in fourth place overall. Adding insult to injury, Upton initially thought she had won the competition, not being able to count to four.
Serene Branson Episode
Despite freezing on camera and babbling ineffably for nearly 10 seconds, Serene Branson denies that she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or that she suffered a stroke.
Dr. Bertland Fremdfreund of San Narciso College’s School of Medicine agrees that a stroke is an unlikely diagnosis, but firmly believes that a type of seizure did occur.
“It’s very unique to this industry,” Fremdfreund said. “But it is legitimate. Unlike those drug-addled celebrities who cite ‘exhaustion’ and ‘dehydration’ as excuses for their psychotic behavior, this is a real disorder. I would say it’s akin to a frosty schooner of nervous breakdown followed with a performance anxiety chaser. We’ve been calling it ‘Brady Syndrome’ since the 1970s, when it was first discovered. Essentially, it’s a minor seizure, the onset of which is triggered directly by the red light atop television cameras.”
The affliction recalls an incident in 1973, when the young daughter of a Los Angeles-based architect succumbed to a seizure during the filming of a short-lived trivia show called “Question the Kids.”
“During the game show,” Fremdfreund explained, “a young contestant named Cindy Brady (the disorder’s namesake) became utterly paralyzed when the red light on the television camera was lit. She spent the entire show immobile, staring hopelessly at the light and muttering pathetic, lisping noises until the light was extinguished. We feel there is overwhelming evidence to support the same conclusion in the case of Serene Branson.”
When asked about the Caitlin Upton incident, Dr. Fremdfreund concluded that the same set of circumstances did not apply in the Miss South Carolina Teen case.
“No, our opinion is that Ms. Upton was merely the victim of the South Carolina public school system. That is to say, she hasn’t seen a map of the world since her state redefined the borders at the start of the Civil War. She was also surprised to learn that there was a North Carolina, and not just the area near Greenville. She also thinks Iraq is due east of Saskatchewan and that ‘Aja’ [sic] is a neighborhood in New York where Puerto Ricans make egg rolls and Steely Dan owns a recording studio. When she finds out that a black man is president...well, let me just say that I’d rather explain the birds and bees to my four-year-old nephew.”
Branson to Return to KCBS
Serene Branson is now resting at home, but says she plans on returning to KCBS soon.
When asked for a comment, Branson told The Bennington Vale Evening Transcript, “I personally believe that American U.S. journal reporters are under pressure to do so as human being type people because, um, some waffle flares out there in our U.S. nation don’t have papers with news and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, reading and, uh, the botulism and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our salve over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help Kentucky ointment and should help gerfilkleineies and the floobtrendle pandoosh, so we will be able to build a skirt basket corduroy nipple.”
KCBS spokesperson Wilma Sterlander said the station has no concerns whatsoever about Branson’s increasingly worrisome condition.
“The average age of a CBS viewer is 84,” Sterlander said. “Most of these people live in trailers in places like Alabama and Mississippi, are verging on total senility, and confuse Katie Couric with Dan Rather in Bea Arthur drag. For all we know, Serene is speaking their language.”