Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick, Who is the New Miss USA?

Buehler...Buehler...Anyone know the answer?

OK, I'll give you a hint, the state has a direction in the name, and it isn't North Dakota or South Carolina?

Still can't figure it out? Here's another hint. This state is the home of NCAA Basketball Champions North Carolina? (Psst. It's not California.)

Give up. That's OK, no one else in America knows, including Miss USA and Donald Trump. Thanks to the agenda of one blogger (how is it possible that someone becomes famous from blogging?), Perez Hilton, the Miss USA pageant has become more irrelevant than it was before.

I'll admit, I didn't watch the pageant. Not only that I didn't even know it was on until I read the news the next day. In fact, my wife (who used to be in pageants) said to me when I told her about it, "They had a Miss USA pageant recently?"

Whoever the Miss USA really is has not been in the news at all. Every day though there are a half dozen new stories about runner-up Miss California. To say that she is the most famous runner up in history is an understatement. For example, the runner up to Vanessa Williams, who became Miss America when Vanessa resigned, is a complete unknown. But 2009 will go down in history as the year that Miss USA wasn't, but Miss California took it all.

Why this controversy? Because Mr. Hilton asked her a question about gay marriage and didn't like her answer. For your reading pleasure here is the question and the answer.

Perez:"Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage, do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?"

Not a bad question I might add. It deals with a current issue and clearly forces the respondent to take a definite stand. No world peace answers possible for this. Personally, I think if pageants are trying to show that they are more than pretty girls who can strut in a bikini and heels then they need more hard hitting questions like this.

California:"Well I think it is great that Americans can choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage and you know what, in my country and in my family I think that I think that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman."

This constitutes an "anti-gay" statement? We are now to assume that Miss California is a bigot because of this? Go back and read the answer (and the question). Some in the gay community are up in arms because they don't agree with her answer. She's not enlightened enough to realize that everyone supports gay marriage. There is no way she could represent America. Guess what? She doesn't. And Miss America doesn't either. More on that in a minute.

I think her answer stinks because it is very much like a politician. She never answered the question. OK, so she didn't botch it up like the girl from South Carolina a few years ago that couldn't find the US or Iraq on a map, but she never answered the question. The question can be answered in two parts. First, yes or no (to the question of should all states make gay marriage legal). I assume she means no, but never says it. Second, the reason why. "Because that is the way I was raised" is a lousy reason to be in favor or against gay marriage. It would have been better if she had have shown she understood what the country actually was, 50 individual states with laws of their own, governed by their own people, who happen to have different ideas and want to be goverened in different ways. In other words. No, each state should decide for themselves and while 4 states have decided (or their judges decided) that gay marriage is a right, more than 30 states have decided by constitutional amendment or statute that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Now that would have answered the question.

But this isn't the objections. Miss California is painted as anti-gay. Mr. Hilton goes on a name calling rant about her, which leads me to believe that no one would have scored points with him unless they came out in full support of gay marriage anytime, anywhere. Miss California's answer (while I still say it was a non-answer), does not contain any negative statements about gays or their lifestyle. She simply says she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

Now for the real kicker. Having not watched anything else in the pageant, take the next bit with a grain of salt. In spite of Mr. Hilton admitting that he gave her 0 points for her answer. She still got first runner up. Which means, all of the other judges thought her answer was very appropriate (and some may have given her more points than the unknown winner). Plus, watching the video on Youtube, there is quite distinct cheering in the audience (positive supportive cheering) for her answer. I couldn't make out any boos. So a portion of the audience liked her answer too. (And that pesky fact about 30+ states not wanting gay marriage, so at least half of the populations of those states like her answer). Of course it is always possible that every other girl except the winner botched their question.

I read one article about how Miss California could sue for emotional trauma. I don't think she will. She showed that she was the classy one. Even her director's are being petty and saying that she shouldn't have answered that question that way. What? So, instead of promoting a girl who stands for what she believes, you want her to capitulate to whatever will "win her the crown?" So who has the higher standards? Frankly, if I was Miss USA (the one that won remember) I would consider suing Perez Hilton and the Miss California directors for making my title meaningless.

Let's go back to the point I made of why Miss USA and Miss America don't represent the US. From my wife I have learned a lot about the whole pageant genre. Miss America started out as a gimmick (yes, a gimmick) to try and get people to stay at the Atlantic City beach longer. What better way to do this then parade beautiful young girls in swimsuits (the bikini had not yet been invented).

After a few decades, the Miss USA pageant was started by a disgruntled sponsor (a swimwear company) because the Miss America winner wasn't going to wear their skimpy bathing suits. So while Miss America was trying to be the all american girl and added talent competition (to get away from the beauty pageant image and get towards a scholarship program, they didn't fool us). Miss USA on the other hand was all about being a model - which made their interview competition ridiculous, because who cares whether they have a brain if your goal is to get them on the runway). When this "representing America" idea came about I don't know, but it was so bad that at one event, an American flag wasn't present so they said the pledge of allegiance to Miss America (who was present). That seems a little creepy to me. I wonder what else the organizers forgot besides the flag. Common sense maybe?

In any event, Miss USA was about tasteful bikinis and Miss America was about one piece suits. They were still trying to project this good girl image. Then the ratings started falling off. Why? I have a theory. Before the middle of the 80's, the only time you were going to see a glimpse of beautiful girls in swimsuits was on the televised pageants. So husbands, boyfriends, and teenagers would gladly watch the first part with their wifes, girlfriends, and moms because it was all about showing a well rounded young lady. "Oh yeah, I agree, show me some more skin please." Sure every now and then Charlie's Angels or Magnum PI would have a beauty at the beach, but by and large, displays of swimwear were not shown on regular TV.

Then Baywatch came. All of the sudden our acting standards and our viewing standards plummetted. Now, we could watch girls in bikinis every week. And it only got worse. In the 90's partial nudity on TV became OK. Cable TV exploded, and the internet was beginning to come of age. Now we have Girls Gone Wild and reality TV to satiate our appetites.

During all of this, the pageant world was always a step behind. Miss America finally allowed two piece suits (although no belly button showing) and Miss USA's began using less and less material. As ratings sank further, they tried to play around with the format. Showing less bikini's ended up with even lower ratings. Eventually, Miss America lost their network contract and had to bounce around on third tier cable networks. They attempted a reality show, however lacked all of the conniving, backbiting, and general salaciousness of the other reality shows so it flopped. Both have resorted to string bikini's and within five years will be mandating Brazilian microkinis. Alas, both are so far behind the debauchery that can be seen on prime time TV that even that won't work.

In the midst of all of this is the scandals that have plagued them. While it should be expected, an organization involving hundreds or thousands of contestants is bound to have a few bad apples, it does make keeping the "good girl" image difficult. Vanessa mentioned before got kicked out for posing nude (before she was Miss America). Now, former playboy playmate Shanna Moakler is one of the California directors who criticized Miss California. So which is it? Do your organizations promote pornography or not?

You look at the recent items of pageant winners: drug use, underage drinking, pregnancy, raunchy photos, etc. and you begin to wonder, are there any "good girls" left in America? The answer of course is yes, and they don't even need to parade around in a bikini on national television to feel validated.

By the way, the winner was Miss North Carolina. Unfortunately, few people besides her friends and family know or care.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that controversy of her comment is pretty lame. She didn't really take a stance or answer a question. She was too concerned with offending the judge, that she hem-hawed her response. If the winner had any amount of conviction behind her answer, she should have won the pageant.

    The problem is her answer, and it's delivery, really had no conviction and resulted in a non-answer. It's typical of the 'training' top pageant girls receive and it is shameful. To make a woman sound diplomatic, pageant trainers teach clients to not 'offend' anyone. So, it makes sense that on a question that should have a Yes or a No answer, the contestant opted to not say Yes or No, so they didn't 'offend' anyone. I'm offended! Answer the question already.

    Pageant judges are not supposed to score you down because of what you believe, but whether you answer the question and back it up with a reason. And most judges do that.

    But here's the big thing. The controversy started because some non-entity (a blogger) was allowed to judge the 'big show.' Then to gather more publicity, the non-entity asked a controversial question dear to his heart. The contestant answered weakly, but opposite of an answer he supported, and he went off on it. So, this non-entity with an insignificant website, is now receiving huge traffic. Not because he is a valuable member of society, but because he ranted about the answer, the news media said, "He viciously attacked this person", and he can laugh all the way to the bank for the good fortune he has. Luckily his 15 minutes of fame, the 1st runner-up, and even the new Miss USA, is about to run out. That is unless Miss USA trips in her evening gown this year, making it three years in a row that Miss USA can not walk and wear expensive clothes at the same time.