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Coming This Christmas! The Two Pageants!

Wholesome Entertainment from Atlantic City, Panama, and Donald Trump!

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 25, 2002.

Two beauty pageants are in the news again. That’s too bad.

Think of it this way. The Two Pageants is the second part of the trilogy. The first one was the Fellowship of the Gender, the third The Return of the Queen. Clear fantasy.

This year, the venerable Miss America Pageant scored its lowest television ratings ever. It is partly blamed upon the fact that all network broadcasting audiences are down, given the competition of often superior programming from the cable networks and the fact that computers and the WEB have decreased the market for both television and pop music. They may soon cut into the cinema market, and future Hollywood premieres may be interactive events before the web cast.

But, back to Miss America. There is hardly an intelligent word to be said about this claptrap. It pretends to be a scholarship program etc. etc., but the reality is without the bathing suit competition it would have folded after its first year. It’s a T and A festival for those who…..well, I can’t imagine anymore, truth be told. It isn’t salacious, it isn’t sexy, it isn’t informative, it isn’t anything beyond mind numbing stupidity and toothy smiles that would blanche Mr. Ed (who won Ms. Equus in 1958 but was outed by Francis the Mule a year later. He later failed to place in the new Mr. Gelding at Trump L.A. in 1985.)

Oh, and there were, for a while, two Miss North Carolinas. The first winner had dumped a boyfriend who heroically announced and may have produced topless photographs of his beloved. I hope this got him beaten up badly, preferably by a woman. What a jerk.

This, somehow, is a no-no in Miss America land, and the winner quit, than sued to get back in, then there were two Miss North Carolinas for a while, and one dropped out, I forget who. Such is the world of beauty pageant participants and the wonderful men who want to own them.

I doubt there are many young women today anywhere who don’t have similar photos taken at keggers or sorority parties or by their younger sisters or something. And really, the difference between topless and braless in a tight T shirt at the Seven-Eleven is what, again?

But these internal problems have always been apparent. Miss America has presented itself as one thing while clearly being another. They cannot change without admitting hypocrisy, an unlikely choice, because its older and declining audience shares that hypocrisy.

The much newer Miss Universe pageant has not been encumbered by such garbage as girl next door images or hopes to better mankind or any of that. It’s pretty much a beauty pageant with secular connections, since Donald Trump and Vegas always seem to be there and part of it. It’s bad acting by a bunch of exhibitionists who tend to look more and more alike. Even the different races tend to look alike. In a way, this is good, because it blows those preposterous theories out of the water that a stout woman of strength would be chosen the more desirable by most of the world’s men rather than a willowy, busty blonde with good teeth. Hardly. Sorry, Roseanne. The standards for feminine beauty are pretty universal in our species. Unfortunately for me, so are the standards for male beauty.

Miss Universe is a business first, not an image till we have planetary competition, and they just fired the first Russian to win it and replaced her with the Panamanian who came in second. The Russian failed to show up for camera shoots and other obligatory assignments. She won, but her efforts are going into her career, as at St. Petersburg police officer. She has voiced no particular complaint as yet about being dethroned, with the exception that she says she quit. There is a rumor she secretly got married and is pregnant, but she has denied it and there is no evidence.

I like that. These pageants are stupid and demeaning and I say that as someone who cheerfully likes to look at beautiful women. I like the fact that an event winner of such preposterous non importance can say, more or less sincerely, that hey, there are more important things and I’m not going to do it. On the other hand, there was a contract. In her favor, she never charged the pageant or collected any of her perks for winning.

But both pageants – the grotesquely hypocritical one and the slightly less hypocritical – are in trouble. The Miss Universe of ten years ago charged she had been sold into slavery to the Sultan of Brunei, and there is reason to believe it. These things are always sleazy because it is a sexual cattle call at heart and everyone knows it.

It will be a good day when Miss America and Miss Universe shut down, but only for the right reasons. Not by the prudes because they’re sex oriented, but because they’re, well, stupid and I choose to think nobody likes looking at people making fools of themselves. Given the popularity of shows like Big Brother and Survivor, the cut off date seems far away indeed.